This past weekend the Cincinnati Reds retired Pete Rose’s #14 and inducted him into the team’s Hall of Fame. You can take various positions on Pete’s betting on baseball, but there is only one position to take on Major League Baseball’s All Time Hit King and an All Star at five positions; the hometown kid from Sayler Park could play. How do I know? I saw it happen before my very eyes.
I was born and raised in Cincinnati and the first season I can really remember following was 1970. Cincinnati got a new ball park, hosted the All Star Game and a World Series. It was also the first year I played Knothole Baseball. Knothole is not just a different name for Little League, but an entirely different structure for youth baseball…real baseball, but with shorter dimensions for the pitcher and the bases.
Anyway, in that first year of Knothole, our team was sponsored by the Thomas Funeral Home. We wore flannel back in those days. The week prior to our first game, Messer’s Philippe and Martin handed out uniforms to nine kids, but alas, the jerseys were not ready. Our instructions were simple. Come back on Saturday wearing a white t-shirt with a number in magic marker on the front and back. We did and seven of the nine kids (me included) showed up wearing #14. The good natured umpire had a hearty laugh, but after that we went really old school with assigned numbers; 1-9. This made sure there were no arguments about who got to be Pete.
I my talks with the Curator of the Reds Museum, not only will the club be dedicating a statute to Rose outside of Great American Ball Park next year, but they will also sponsor a large main exhibit devoted to Rose. As with most things honoring Rose, the Reds are little late as the MEARS Museum already has a nice display in place honoring The Hit King. Among the Rose items in the exhibit are Pete’s:
-1966 Cincinnati Reds road jersey
-1968 Cincinnati Reds road jersey
-1972/1973 Cincinnati Reds jacket
-1976 Cincinnati Reds home jersey
-1980s Philadelphia Phillies warm up jacket
-1984 Montreal Expos home jersey
-1985 Cincinnati Reds home jersey
-1985 Cincinnati Reds batting practice jersey
-1968 All Star Game Bat (First National League Batting title season)
-1970 All Star Game Bat
-A collection of game used bats, featuring every model used by Rose during his career.
-Other assorted pieces of memorabilia
If you’re in the Milwaukee area, please consider stopping by to see this and the other displays. With the exception of the monthly open houses, the museum is open by appointment only so please call or e-mail in advance. If you have particular questions about an artifact in your collection, please feel free to bring it by and we try to help out as best we can.
As always, collect what you enjoy and enjoy what you collect.