Almost 30 years have passed since Pete Rose recorded his last hit. He went 3-for-4 against the San Francisco Giants on Aug. 14, 1986, at Riverfront Stadium.
No one at the time knew Rose’s single in the seventh inning against Greg Minton would be the last of 4,256 career hits. Rose played in four more games that season and went hitless.
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RELATED: 7 reasons Reds fans love Pete Rose
That hit total continues to be the single biggest reason Cincinnati Reds fans love Rose, but there are many reasons he remains beloved despite his lifetime banishment from the game for gambling and his years of denial about that gambling.
Here are seven reasons the popularity of No. 14, who will be inducted into the Reds Hall of Fame on Saturday at Great American Ball Park, hasn’t diminished:
1. Hits: Rose passed Ty Cobb with his 4,192nd hit on Sept. 11, 1985, becoming Major League Baseball’s all-time hits leader. In the years since, no player has come with 700 hits of Rose.
Derek Jeter, of the New York Yankees, finished his 20-year career with 3,465 hits, ranking sixth in baseball history. Jeter would have had to average 40 more hits per season to catch Rose.
Of Rose’s 4,256 hits, 3,041 or 75.5 percent were singles.
“He is the only singles hitter ever able to control the ebb and flow of a series,” Hall of Fame third baseman Mike Schmidt told the Dayton Daily News in 2002. “Pete’s presence, his antics, his comments, his pre-game banter swung the tide. I remember the 1980 playoffs and Houston’s Nolan Ryan was sticking it to us and Rose was screaming at him, ‘You aren’t going to get me out.’ Pete was the only guy who could get away with that.”
2. Hometown hero: Rose grew up at 4404 Braddock Ave. on the west side of Cincinnati, about 7.3 miles from Great American Ball Park or the site of the Reds’ former home, Riverfront Stadium.
“One thing you have to understand about me is that when I was here as a player and when I was here as manager,” Rose said once, “I treated everybody with respect and gave everybody a chance.”
3. Championships: The Reds have won five of the 111 World Series played since 1903. That ties them for seventh for most world championships with the Pittsburgh Pirates.
Rose had a major hand in two of those titles (1975 and 1976) and also shaped the team that won the World Series in 1990. He was the Reds manager from 1985 to 1989, when he was banned from baseball for life, and watched the 1990 World Series from a federal prison camp in Marion, Ill. He served five months after pleading guilty to two felony charges of filing false tax returns.
Rose also won a World Series with the Philadelphia Phillies in 1980.
4. Longevity: Rose played in more games (3,562) than any player in baseball history in his 24-year career. Carl Yastrzemski ranks second with 3,308 games in 23 seasons. Only eight players have played in more than 3,000 games.
As a 22-year-old second baseman in 1963, Rose was a teammate of Joe Nuxhall, who made his big league debut in 1944. As a 44-year-old player/manager for the Reds in 1986, Rose was a teammate of 22-year-old rookie shortstop Barry Larkin, who would play until 2004.
5. Winning: Rose’s teams won 1,972 games. No player has been a part of more victories. In Rose’s 18 full seasons with the Reds (1963-78 and 1985-86), the Reds had one losing record (76-84 in 1966).
6. Hustle: Rose earned his nickname, “Charlie Hustle,” by running to first base on walks. He ranks 14th in baseball history with 1,566 walks. That’s one walk every 10.1 plate appearances.
Rose added to the legend with his trademark head-first slides. Of course, Rose was no Billy Hamilton. Rose stole 198 bases in his career. The current Reds center fielder Hamilton has 142 stolen bases in less than three full seasons.
“Willie Mays could throw better, and Hank Aaron could hit more home runs,” Rose said once. “But I’ve got enthusiasm. I’ve got desire. I’ve got hustle. Those are God-given talents, too.”
7. Love of the game: One of Rose’s most famous quotes was this: “I’d walk through hell in a gasoline suit to play baseball.”