Sunday evening’s Reds gala took us on a trip down Pete Rose memory lane.
One great memory: Pete told a story about his dad attending every Reds home game from his rookie year on. No. 14 always left four tickets at the “Will Call” window.
“Dad never waited for me after the game, never came into the clubhouse,” Pete recalled. “He always had to be leave for work the next morning by 7 o’clock. But, on this one night, I was coming out of the ballpark and Dad was out by my car…”
“What’s up, Dad? Mom sick?’’
“No, no, nothing like that,” said Pete’s dad. “Let me ask you a question.”
“Sure what’s that’s?” asked the future hit king.
“That third time up when you had the man on third and you hit that ground ball to second; did you run hard to first?”
The son had to think. He had missed a pitch that he should have crushed. He was ticked, and because of it, he hadn’t sprinted all-out.
“No,” Pete admitted to his dad, “I was mad. I didn’t run hard.”
To which his father, who had been a heck of an athlete himself, looked his son straight in the eyes and said:
“Don’t embarrass me in this town like that.”
With that, I finally understood why No. 14 played the way he did.
I don’t know if Pete Rose will make it to the National Baseball of Fame posthumously; I doubt it.
It’s a testament to the way he played – and to his banishment from the game because of gambling – that he doesn’t need formal recognition to be remembered.
They’ll be writing and talking about this guy 100 years from now, just like they’re still writing and talking about Ty Cobb, who is in the Hall, and Shoeless Joe, who isn’t.
Rose showed us again this past weekend why he’s one-of-a-kind. He has great baseball recall, always connects with his audience, and is expansive and inclusive of others in the game.
He can talk baseball till the Holsteins come home.
I don’t have a huge problem with him not being in Cooperstown. He made his own bed; he has to lie in it.
If he doesn't make it to Cooperstown in his lifetime, then after-the-fact means nothing.
What does mean something is that every other year, when the Reds hold their Hall of Fame induction ceremonies, Rose will get to be there with his buddies in the Reds jackets. And next year there will be a head-first statue.
All in Cincinnati, right where No 14 belongs.
John Erardi has covered baseball in Cincinnati for 30 years. He is a two-time Associated Press Ohio Sports Writer of the Year and co-author of six books on the Reds, including "Big Red Dynasty" and "Crosley Field." He will discuss "The Origins of Baseball" at noon Saturday at FanFest with Reds historian Greg Rhodes and MLB's official historian John Thorn.