The Cincinnati Reds announced today that they will honor a shared Philadephia Phillies hero with a place in their team Hall of Fame.
In a special news conference called to make the event official, the Reds announced that they will enshrine Pete Rose, and will also retire his uniform number ’14’ and unveil a statue in his honor during a ceremony to take place on the weekend of June 24th-26th.
Per ESPN news services and the Associated Press, Reds CEO Bob Castellini stated: “Inducting Pete into the Reds Hall of Fame will be a defining moment in the 147-year history of this storied franchise. He is one of the greatest players to ever wear a Reds uniform and it will be an unforgettable experience watching him being honored as such.”
According to the same report, the famed “Charlie Hustle” was asked how he would like the statue to portray him, and poked fun at his gambling issues by responding: “Well, I sure as hell don’t want it to be me standing at the $2 window at Turfway.”
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Rose will become the 86th member of the Reds Hall of Fame, which includes his fellow ‘Big Red Machine’ teammates Johnny Bench, Joe Morgan, Tony Perez, Dave Concepcion, George Foster, Cesar Geronimo, and Ken Griffey Sr, as well as their manager, Sparky Anderson. The Reds’ HOF also includes newly elected Baseball Hall of Famer Ken Griffey Jr.
The announcement brings up an interesting question: should the Philadelphia Phillies also honor Rose, inducting him on to their Wall of Fame at Citizens Bank Park?
Phillies fans who were around at the time, such as myself, clearly remember when the team signed Rose as their first-ever big free agent prior to the 1979 season. The Phillies teams of that era were ulta-talented, and had won three consecutive NL East crowns. But they were missing something. They just didn’t seem to know how to win the big games.
That was one of the main reasons that Rose was given the largest contract in baseball history to that point: put that talented group of Mike Schmidt, Steve Carlton, Greg Luzinski, Larry Bowa, Garry Maddox, Tug McGraw, et al over the top.
To that point in his career, Schmidt had developed into one of baseball’s most feared sluggers. The greatest player in Phillies history credits the presence and daily influence of Rose in elevating him to become one of the best all-around players in the game, a perennial MVP candidate, and ultimately a Baseball Hall of Famer: “He completed my game,” is how Schmidt describes the Rose influence.
Two years later, with Rose as the team’s emotional leader and its statistical leader in hits and doubles, 2nd on the club to Schmidt in runs scored, the Phillies finally won the first World Series crown in the 98th season of the franchise’ existence.
To put an exclamation point on the importance of his intangible value to that team, one only needs to recall the unforgettable second out of the ninth inning of the final game of that Fall Classic against the Kansas City Royals, when Rose snatched a ball out of mid-air after catcher Bob Boone had bobbled it.
Another hustling feat that Rose accomplished while with the Phillies is one that I highlighted just the other day. In a 1981 game in Cincinnati against the Reds, Rose became just the 2nd Phillies player ever to steal 2nd, 3rd, and then home in the same inning.
Rose played five seasons in a Phillies uniform from 1979-1983, and helped lead the Phils to the postseason in three of those seasons, including winning a pair of National League pennants. He was an NL All-Star the first four of those seasons, won a 1981 Silver Slugger at 1st base, and amassed 826 hits in a Phillies uniform, hitting .291 with a .365 on-base percentage.
There are 37 players and club personnel enshrined on the Phillies Wall of Fame. They include all seven of Rose’s 1980 World Series-winning teammates mentioned earlier here, an eighth in John Vukovich, that team’s general manager Paul Owens, their manager Dallas Green, and two broadcasters who called their games in Harry Kalas and Richie Ashburn.
The organization still needs to rectify the omission of early 20th century 1st baseman Fred Luderus at some point. But for this fan who was around to see the obvious influence that Rose had in finally bringing a championship to Phillies fans, he is absolutely deserving of a plaque on that wall.