Saturday, July 24, 2010

Pete Rose

Pete Rose is a former star major league baseball player who is the all-time leader in base hits. However, Rose threw everything away by gambling on baseball (and lying about it), thereby destroying his legacy and barring him from enshrinement in the prestigious Hall of Fame.

Rose was born on April 14, 1941 in Cincinnati, OH. Sports were an important part of Rose's life during his youth. He participated in both football and baseball while he was a high school student. Unfortunately, Rose was not gifted academically and apparently failed courses his sophomore year - he was given the option of attending summer school or repeating his sophomore year. Rose' father's choose for Pete to repeat his sophomore year so that he wouldn't have to given up playing baseball during the following summer. Consequently, when Pete Rose reached his senior year in high school, he had already used up his four years of sports eligibility. Rose was able to continue playing baseball during his senior year by playing games on a Class AA baseball team in the Dayton Amateur League. Rose performed well, playing several positions and batting over .500.

The Cincinnati Reds were aware of Pete Rose and in June 1960 signed a professional contract with the Reds. Rose played well in the minor leagues between 1960 and 1962, setting a Class D league record for triples in a season in 1961 and batting .330 in 1962 in Class A. In 1963 Rose was given the opportunity to start at second base during spring training after the Red's starting second baseman, Don Blasingame, pulled a groin muscle. Rose performed well and was elevated to the Reds' starting second baseman. During Spring Training, Rose was given his signature nickname, "Charlie Hustle," by Hall of Fame Yankees pitcher Whitey Ford after Ford saw Rose apparently showboating by sprinting to first base after drawing a walk.

Rose played well as a rookie in 1963, finishing the year batting .273 and acquiring 170 hits. Rose was rewarded for his efforts by winning the Rookie of the Year Award. Two years later, in 1965, Rose had his first .300+ season, batting .312 with 209 hits and finishing sixth in the National League MVP vote. Rose continued to play well throughout the 1960s, leading the National League in batting average in 1968 and 1969, and finishing second the the MVP vote in 1969.

Although Rose was respected for his tenacious style of play, he also began the garner a reputation as one of the biggest and most egocentric jerk/asshole in the game of baseball. In the 1970 All-Star game, for example, Rose plowed into the American League's catcher, Ray Fosse, separating Fosse's shoulder and igniting a quick decline in Fosse's career. The play occurred during the 12th inning of the All-Star game as Rose was trying to score the winning run. Fosse stood in the baseline waiting to catch a throw to home plate when Rose barreled over Fosse, separating Fosse's shoulder. At the time, baseball fans gave Rose a pass for playing into Fosse because he was trying to score the winning run and Fosse was standing in the base path. However, public opinion eventually turned against Rose as he began trash-talking about the incident in an effort to make himself appear more masculine.

Rose supposedly began lying about Fosse, saying that he and Fosse
had been out partying until 2 AM the night before the All-Star game and that "he had [still] been willing to slam into a good friend the way he did." Rose apparently fabricated the entire background of the story, as Fosse has stated that he had never met Rose before that All-Star game. Rose also infuriated fans when he later said, "I could have never looked my father in the eye again, if I hadn't hit Fosse that day."

Despite his actions in the 1970s All-Star game, Rose continued to play well throughout the 1970s. He was arguably the best contact hitter throughout the 1960s and 1970s. In 1973 he had his best season, with 230 hits, a .338 batting average, and winning the National League MVP award. The Reds made the playoffs in 1973 and Rose famously started a fight with the diminutive New Work Mets shortstop Bud Harrelson while attempting to break up a double play during the National League playoffs during a game played in New York. The game was nearly forfeited after the feisty New York crowd started throwing bottles and other garbage onto the field in the direction of Pete Rose.

Rose was a major component of the "Big Red Machine," as the Cincinnati Reds were called during the 1970s. The Big Red Machine was one of the most dominant teams of the 1970s, winning the National League West division six times, playing in four World Series, and winning two World Series titles, in 1975 and 1976.

In 1978 Rose recorded the longest hitting streak in National League history, and the second longest of all time (next to Joe Dimaggio's 56-game hitting streak) when he recorded hits in 44 consecutive games. Rose's streak nearly ended during the 32 game until Rose was able to leg out a bunt single in the 9th inning of the game. Rose came across as a whiny crybaby after a game against the Braves when his streak ended - he was upset after striking out during the ninth inning because the Atlanta Braves' pitcher hadn't thrown him a fastball to hit. Rose also recorded his 3,000 hit in 1978, becoming only the 13th player at the time to get so many career hits.

After the 1978 season, Rose left the Reds and joined the Philadelphia Phillies, who made him the highest paid player in the game at the time. Rose proved to be a positive addition to the Phillies, helping them win the first championship in the old franchise's history in 1980.

After five seasons in Philadelphia, Rose returned signed a contract with the Montreal Expos for the 1984 season. Rose apparently left the Phillies because the team was going to reduce his playing time after he had the worst season of his career up to that point, hitting a pedestrian .245 with a pathetic slugging percentage of .286. Rose, however, had grand ambitions of breaking Ty Cobb's all-time record of 4189 hits and the Expos gave him the opportunity to play a starting position on their team.

In 1984 Rose recorded his 4,000th hit, becoming only the second player, along with Ty Cobb, to do so. The Expos traded Rose to the Reds for infielder Tom Lawless on August 15, 1984. After the trade, Rose was immediately elevated to the role of player-manager. Rose was baseball's last player-manager.

Despite rapidly diminished hitting skills, Rose continued to plow forward and continued to play for two more seasons. On September 11, 1985 Rose recorded the 4,192nd hit of his career against the San Diego Padres' pticher Eric Show, breaking Ty Cobb's record. Hall of Fame player Ted Williams was supposedly not impressed with Rose's record and when asked about Rose's career hits, Williams reportedly remarked that most of Rose's hits were singles.

Rose retired after the 1986 but continued to manage the Reds. Rose was a decent manager, leading the Reds to second-place finishes in the National Leagues' West division during his four full seasons at the helm. Rose was known for his intense managerial style, often clashing with umpires during arguments. During a game against the Mets on April 30, 1988, Rose was suspended for 30 games after infamously pushing an umpire while arguing a call.

Rumors began swirling that Rose had bet on baseball. Gambling on baseball is one of the most egregious sins in the game and the sin which resulted in the suspension of several White Sox player during the 1919 "Black Sox" scandal when the White Sox threw the series.

In February 1989, Rose was questioned by by outgoing commissioner Peter Ueberroth. Rose denied allegations of gambling and Ueberroth dropped the investigation. However, three days after Ueberroth's successor, Bart Giamatti, became Commissioner, lawyer John M. Dowd was retained to investigate gambling charges against Rose. Dowd interviewed many alleged bookies and bet runners who were associated with Rose. Dowd summarized his findings to the Commissioner in May, 1989. Dowd's report documented Rose's alleged gambling activities in 1985 and 1986 and listed a day-by-day account of Rose's alleged betting on baseball games in 1987. Dowd's report also documented Rose's alleged bets on 52 Reds games in 1987, where Rose wagered at least $10,000 a day. There was no evidence that Rose had bet against the Reds in any of his bets.

However, Commissioner Giamatti was livid and decided to make an example of Rose to make it clear that gambling would not be tolerated. Despite denying all of the allegations, Rose voluntarily accepted a permanent place on baseball’s ineligible list on August 24, 1989. Rose was allowed to apply for reinstatement one year later. Rose also began therapy with a psychiatrist for treatment of a gambling addiction in 1989.

In a December 2002 interview, investigator Dowd stated that he believed that Rose may have bet against the Reds while managing them.

On April 20, 1990, Rose pleaded guilty to two charges of filing false income tax returns not showing income he received from selling autographs and memorabilia, and from horse racing winnings. On July 19, Rose was sentenced to five months in the medium security Prison Camp at the United States Penitentiary in Marion, Illinois and fined $50,000. Ironically, Rose was driven past a baseball field named after Ray Fosse on his way to prison.

As a member of baseball's ineligible list, Rose has not been eligible to be voted into the Hall of Fame. If Rose hadn't gambled on baseball games, Rose would surely have been enshrined in the Hall of Fame in his first year of eligibility with a near-unanimous vote.

Rose continued to deny the gambling allegations throughout the 1990s and eventually developed a base of fans who wanted him enshrined in the Hall of Fame. In 1999, Rose was voted onto baseball's All-Century team and received a standing ovation before Game 2 of the 1999 World Series. Immediately after the ovation, Rose was asked by NBC's Jim Gray whether he was willing to finally admit to gambling on baseball. Rose vehemently denied ever gambling on baseball and NBC was subjected to public outcry for airing Gray's rude interview.

In 2004, Rose finally admitted to gambling on baseball in his autobiography, My Prison Without Bars. Rose also admitted to betting on Reds games for the Reds to win. Rose was apparently hoping that everyone would forgive him after coming clean. However, Rose was in for a rude awakening when the public turned against him for lying for the previous 15 years.

Ever since receiving his ban, Rose has maintained a living by appearing at memorabilia shows and other venues selling autographed baseballs, bats, photos, and other items. He often wears a hat that reads, "Hit King" and has recently been appearing with a 29-year-old Korean woman named Kiana Kim, who is supposedly his girlfriend. Rose grossed out listeners of the Howard Stern Show when he claimed that he has sex with Kim three times a day without Viagra. Rose also claimed that instead of using birth control he pulls out and shoots his load on his bedroom wall.

Despite having a reputation as a jerk and hot-head, Pete Rose was once one of the most respected players in the game at the time of his retirement in 1986. He cared was focused on setting records and winning. Although renowned for his play on the field, Rose was also famous for his bowl haircut and lack of fashion sense off the field, as shown below in this photo he took for Playboy in the 1970s.

Rose tarnished his baseball legacy and disgraced the game by gambling on baseball and then lying about it for 15 years before finally coming clean. Rose will probably never be taken of baseball's ineligible list as long as he is alive. Despite holding the all-time record for hits, at bats, games played and being one of the career leaders in other categories such as doubles and total bases, Rose has become a pariah of the game. Even when Rose tries to do the right thing, he often screws up, as he did in 2007 when he swore like a sailor while speaking at a "Reds' Legends Baseball Camp." Rose was also recently accused of using a corked bat during the 1980s. For this and the other reasons discussed above, Pete Rose is one washed-up sports celebrity!