Peter Edward Rose – 1B, 2B, 3B, LF, RF
Cincinnati Reds (1963-1978, 1984-1986), Philadelphia Phillies (1979-1983), Montreal Expos (1984)
Before we begin, I need you to do something.
I need you to forget about the current image of Pete Rose.
I need you to forget about gambling. Forget about book tours and confessions. Forget about his managerial career and pariah status. Forget about the Hall of Fame and about “contributions” to pro wrestling.
I need you to look at Charlie Hustle through the lens of the baseball player.
Rose, for 24 years, was the epitome of the player that baseball needed. A hustling, bustling player that went where ever he needed to go, did whatever was needed and did it without hesitation. His accolades stretch from his first season (NL Rookie of the Year) to his last (All-time hits leader) and pile-up everywhere in between. A winner of three World Series rings, he paced one of the greatest offensive units ever assembled in the Big Red Machine of the 1970’s, hit .300 or better in 16 seasons, collected 200 hits in a season 10 times and added a myriad of accomplishments too lengthy to comment on.
Effectively, Rose became the model of young players everywhere. His start came about with a legendary punch-line-turned moniker. In 1963, Rose replaced hustling second baseman Don Blasingame in spring training against the White Sox and would be playing when the Reds met with the Yankees later in the preseason. Whitey Ford, depending on which version of the story you believe in, dubbed young Rose “Charlie Hustle,” a nickname that wasn’t probably meant to be savory but instead stuck to the hard working Rose.
A seventeen time All-Star, Rose was the top of the order guy that set up the rest of the powerful Reds roster. His leadership and continual on-base presence would eventually pay off as the team won four NL pennants in the 1970’s, winning back to back World Series titles in 1975 and 1976, claiming an World Series MVP in the 1975 title season. He also assisted the Phillies to two NL pennants and garnered his third ring in the 1980 season, getting the Phillies over the hump after three previous NL East titles had resulted in no World Series appearances, including one that Rose had helped beat back in the ’76 season.
Rose’s on-field talent was recognized by everyone. His determination and hustle won him the Hutch Award in 1968. He was named the recipient of the Lou Gehrig Memorial Award the following year and would add the Roberto Clemente award in 1976. The year prior, he was named as Sports Illustrated Sportsman of the Year, won the penultimate Hickok Belt award for professional athlete of the year and was a winner of the fledgling Silver Slugger Award in 1981, as a first baseman, in his 19th season in the league. He was a two time Gold Glove winner in 1969 and 1970, three time NL Batting Champion in 1968, 1969 and 1973, seven time NL hits leader and led the NL in runs four times. His feats landed him on MLB’s All-Century Team in 1999, listed amongst the top nine voted-in outfielders.
His legacy as a player is not one that should be overlooked. He garnered the NL MVP in 1973, having to beat out most of his own team to win the award, a team featuring the likes of Johnny Bench, George Foster, Davey Concepción and Joe Morgan, to name a few. He is the only player in MLB history to have played 500+ games at five different positions. He durability is also one of his greatest achievements, as he holds records for the most games played, at-bats, hits and outs, amongst a bevy of other records.
He may not be allowed into baseball’s hall of fame and he may not even be welcome in many people’s living rooms. But as a player, he is more than welcome into the IP Sports Hall of Fame.
Tags: Baseball, Cincinnati Reds, Philadelphia Phillies