CINCINNATI – As Cubs fans – and baseball fans everywhere – celebrated the 100th birthday of Wrigley Field Wednesday, Tom Browning must have been smiling.
That goes for Pete Rose and Jim Maloney, too.
Those Reds greats created three memorable moments in Wrigley and Reds' history.
Browning's was more comical than record-setting, something Bill Murray, a diehard Cubs fan, must have wished he had thought of first.
Five years after pitching the only perfect game in Reds history, Browning pulled the perfect ballpark stunt on July 7, 1993.
Wearing a sweatsuit over his uniform, he snuck out of the bullpen during an afternoon game and crashed a rooftop party of Cubs fans across the street, overlooking right field.
While the partiers laughed and drank, Browning took off the sweatsuit and casually sat on a railing and watched an inning, dangling his feet over the edge of the roof and waving at his teammates and TV cameras.
Years later, Browning told the Enquirer's John Kiesewetter that he did it to boost team morale. The Reds were still in a funk over the firing of manager Tony Perez six weeks earlier.
"We got to Chicago and I said, 'I’m going to do something silly today.' A buddy of mine, (pitcher) Bob Walk with the Pirates, once went in the Wrigley Field scoreboard. He said it was kind of cool, so I tried to get in the scoreboard, but they wouldn’t let me in.
"So I ended up talking to the clubhouse guy, and he knew the guy who owned the building (across Sheffield Avenue). I called him, and I said I was wondering if it would be OK if I came over and sat on your roof for an inning and watched the game. And he said, 'I’ve never had anyone ask me that. That would be kind of cool.' ”
After the game, the new manager, Davey Johnson, read him the riot act, Browning said.
"I told him, 'Listen, this has nothing to do about you. It’s about those guys in there (clubhouse). I know this deserves a fine. Just tell me how much it is, and leave it at that.' And I threw a few other words in there, and I walked out.
"He said to me the next day: '1,000 bucks.' And I said, 'OK.' But it worked out. I got some nice laughs. It cost me $1,000, but I enjoyed doing it."
Pete Rose almost breaks Ty Cobb's record
Rose, then the player-manager, gave Reds owner Marge Schott a fit when he put himself in the lineup on Sunday, Sept. 8, 1985.
Rose was three hits away from breaking Ty Cobb's career record of 4,191, and Schott wanted him to do it in Cincinnati when the Reds started their next homestand on Tuesday.
Rose had planned to sit out the last game of the road trip against left-hander Steve Trout, and Rose's wife and his agent had gone home. The Cincinnati media corps following Rose had gone back to Cincinnati, too, to cover the Bengals game.
But fate and a bicycle intervened.
Trout fell off a bike while playing with his daughter and hurt his elbow and shoulder. The Cubs started rookie right-hander Reggie Patterson instead, and Rose, sitting on 4,189, wrote his name on the lineup card.
When the Cincinnati media, gathered at Riverfront Stadium for kickoff, heard the news, many of them sprinted to the airport to get back to Chicago, not willing to bet that Rose would save the record hit for Cincinnati.
Rose singled off Patterson in the first inning.
He singled again in the fifth.
He had tied the record.
William A. Cook described the moment in "Pete Rose: Baseball's All-Time Hit King:"
"The Wrigley message board began flashing a message: 'Ty Cobb, 4,191' on one line and 'Pete Rose, 4,191' beneath it. Cubs right fielder Keith Moreland threw the ball in and applauded. All at once, the entire Wrigley Field crowd of 28,269 were on their feet as well as the fans on the rooftops of the buildings across the street."
Schott had gone to the Bengals game and didn't know Rose was playing until a Reds employee told her. She watched his at-bats on TV in her box at Riverfront.
"If that SOB gets that base hit, I'm gonna kill him," Schott said, according to Mike Bass' book, "Marge Schott Unleashed."
"If he gets that base hit in Chicago," she said, "he doesn’t even need to come back to Cincinnati."
By now, the Reds players expected Rose to take himself out of the game.
"What are you doing, buddy?" Tony Perez asked.
"I'm trying to get a base hit," Rose answered.
"You better get your batting gloves and go upstairs and watch on TV," Dave Concepcion said.
"I can't do that," Rose replied.
It started to drizzle.
Rose came up in the seventh and grounded to short.
The drizzle turned into a downpour – and two hours of rain delays.
When Rose came up again in the ninth, it was getting dark (Wrigley didn't have lights yet) and hard-throwing reliever Lee Smith struck him out on a 2-and-2 fastball.
The umpires called the game after nine innings with the score 5-5. It wouldn't be replayed unless it swung a division race for either team, so Rose's hits counted – at least for the time being.
After the game,
Rose told Enquirer sports columnist Tim Sullivan:
"I was real confused. I didn't know what to do. I was sort of in a situation where I didn't want to disappoint everybody. I had 30,000 yelling here and one lady back in Cincinnati, every time I got a hit, kicking her dog."
Rose went hitless against the Padres on Sept. 10 in Cincinnati, but he hit 4,192 the next night - a first-inning single off Eric Show.
Jim Maloney throws first no-hitter that counts
Maloney was the Reds' answer to Aroldis Chapman in the 1960s. Maloney threw almost as hard as Chapman – and he could be just as wild.
The right-hander topped out with a 99-mph fastball, threw three no-hitters (one later stricken from the record book) and had more than 200 strikeouts for four consecutive seasons (1963–66).
Maloney threw two no-hitters in 1965, but the first one no longer counts.
He threw 10 hitless innings against the Mets on June 14 and camethisclose to a perfect game, striking out 18 and walking one. But Johnny Lewis led off the 11th with a homer, and Maloney lost 1-0.
He lost the no-hitter for good when baseball later changed the rules to omit no-nos broken up in extra innings
Two months later, on Aug. 19, Maloney's fortune went full circle - from heartache to arm ache - when he pitched 10 no-hit innings at Wrigley and beat the Cubs 1-0 on shortstop Leo Cardenas' homer.
Imagine this: Maloney threw 187 pitches. In one game.
He walked 10, hit one batter and struck out 12.
It was the first no-hitter in modern history in which the winning pitcher went more than nine innings.
But perhaps Maloney's most memorable no-hitter was the last one - on April 30, 1969 at Crosley Field. He struck out 13 Astros in a 10-0 win. The next day, Houston's Don Wilson no-hit the Reds – only the second time opposing team pitchers threw no-hitters in consecutive games.