Sunday, September 12, 2010

A Rerun: Baby, Bears, and Base Hits

There was some hoopla yesterday with it being the 25th anniversary of Pete Rose breaking Ty Cobb's career hit record.

The Reds are celebrating the event today, a day late, because Pete Rose had a commitment yesterday at........... a casino. Yes, you read that right. You can't make up stuff this good!

A little more than 25 years ago, on the opening Sunday of the NFL season (just like today....Go Bears!!), Pete Rose and the Reds were at Wrigley Field.

I was at Wrigley Field, too. I wrote a post about that game back in January, 2009. I thought it would be appropriate to rerun it today.

Baby, Bears, and Base Hits
Others who bought these Pete Rose cards from Chris of Project 62 have showed off their cards. Now it is my turn.

From the 120 card Topps Pete Rose Baseball Card set, a Pete Rose autographed card - very cool.

The picture on this card below was taken at Wrigley Field on September 8, 1985. It shows Pete Rose rapping out career hit #4190 to tie Ty Cobb as the all-time hit leader.
I was there. This is my story:

Sunday, September 8, 1985
. My wife and I were given tickets to this game, Cubs vs. Reds. They were front row, upper deck seats along the first base line. This would also be my baby son's first trip to Wrigley Field-- well sort of. My wife was 8 1/2 months pregnant, so my son didn't get as good a view of the game as we did, but I'm sure he heard what was going on. He was born two weeks later, on September 22.

September 8 was also opening day for the NFL and the Bears were hosting Tampa Bay. The message board at Wrigley posted regular updates of the score. Early on, it was not good news as the Bears were behind 28 - 17 at halftime. But they ran off 21 unanswered points in the second half (and the Wrigley crowd cheered each time the score was updated) and they won 38-28. This got the '85 Bears off on the right track as they steamrolled their way to a 15-1 regular season and an eventual Super Bowl victory.

But the big news of the day was Pete Rose. He came into Sunday two hits behind Ty Cobb on the all time hit list. Player-manager Rose decided he wouldn't play Sunday because the Cubs were starting lefty Steve Trout. He also wanted to tie and set the record in front of his hometown fans in Cincinnati.

On the El on the way to the ballpark, we overheard someone saying that Trout was hurt and wouldn't pitch and that Rose would play. When we got to Wrigley, we found out that this was true! Flaky Steve Trout injured himself riding a bike and was out. Pete Rose was in!

He didn't waste any time, either. In his first at bat, he hit the first pitch he saw for a clean base hit. He trailed Cobb by one! Four innings later, he lined a base hit over Ryne Sandberg's head to tie Ty. Wrigley Field erupted. We were all on our feet, giving Rose a long standing ovation.

Now that he had tied the record, Rose faced a dilemma. His whole persona was Charlie Hustle, play and win at all costs. Charlie Hustle does not come out of a game. But staying in the game means he could set the record in Chicago instead of at home, which would make Reds management very angry. What would he do?

Charlie Hustle stayed in the game! He batted two more times, with the crowd roaring each time he came to the plate, hoping to see hit #4191. But there were no more heroics as he grounded out to short and struck out.

The game actually ended in a 5-5 tie. Rain came and in pre-lights Wrigley, the game was called because of darkness.

It was an exciting day that I will never forget. Official attendance was 28,269 (plus one soon to be born baby) and my wife and I are proud to say were part of that crowd.

Here are a few more of the cards from the set with Cubs connections:

Pete at the 1970 All Star Game plowing over Ray Fosse and scoring the winning run. Cubs manager Leo Durocher, who was the third base coach, is in the background. It was Cub Jim Hickman who had the hit that brought Rose in.

Pete at Wrigley Field, 1970 or 1971

Pete at Wrigley Field, mid '80's. It looks like the ball girl in the background is Marla Collins, who was fired by the Cubs after she posed in Playboy. And yes, I do have that issue (it was given to me by my brother-in-law -- I didn't buy it), because it is Cubs related. Maybe that is material for another post!


  1. The records were changed later...and Cobb had two hits taken away that had erroneously been credited to him. By that logic, Cobb now shows as having 4,189 hits and you saw Rose break the record.

    Just sayin'.