Pete Rose Biography

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Birth Name: Pete Rose
Born: 04/14/1941
Birth Place: Cincinnati, Ohio, USA

He was born Peter Edward Rose on April 14, 1941, one of four children of LaVerne and Harry Rose, the latter a onetime standout athlete who had played both semi-pro football and baseball. By his early years at Western Hills High School, Pete had become a fiercely competitive athlete in both baseball and football, but his focus on schoolwork suffered proportionately his sophomore year. He was given the choice of attending summer school or repeating the grade, and in lieu of missing baseball season, he opted to be held back. He matured into a baseball standout but had used up his eligibility by his senior season in 1960. An uncle then working as a scout for the Cincinnati Reds, Buddy Bloebaum, secured him a try-out with the team. By spring 1963, the scrappy wunderkind had worked his way up through the Reds' farm system and garnered a chance to shine in the pre-season when the team's starting second basemen sustained an injury. Rose even picked up a nickname, "Charlie Hustle," when Yankees great Whitey Ford chided the newcomer for sprinting to first base after drawing a walk during a spring-training game. Rose made his Major League debut against the Pittsburgh Pirates on April 8, 1963, drew a walk for his first-at-bat but did not record a hit until his 12th five days later.

Rose wound up batting .273 for the year, good enough to land the National League Rookie of the Year laurel. In January 1964, he married Karolyn Englehardt. By the end of the 1965 season, he had become an offensive force, leading the NL in hits with 209 hits on a .312 batting average. He hit a career-high 16 home runs in 1966. In 1967, he switched positions to right field and began what would be a career-long collection of hitting streaks by going the first 22 games of the 1968 seasons with a hit and finishing the season with a .335 batting average. He upped that to a stunning .348 the next year, racking up 218 hits and an on-base percentage (OBP) of .432. Meanwhile, the Reds organization began building a powerhouse roster that included catcher Johnny Bench and first/third baseman Tony Pérez, Managed by Sparky Anderson, the team had become an NL force by 1970, when fans began referring to it as The Big Red Machine. The team that year won the NL pennant and barreled into the World Series, but lost to the Baltimore Orioles. The Reds won went back to the Series in 1971 but lost to the Oakland As.

In 1973, on the strength of his 230 hits and .338 batting average and the Reds' 93-66 record, Rose snared the league MVP award and took the team into the National League Championship Series (NLCS) against the New York Mets. They lost the five-game series, which went marred in Game 3 by riotous bench-clearing brawl, which began when Rose slid violently into Bud Harrelson at second trying to break up a double play. In 1975, fielding a veritable All-Star team with the additions of second baseman Joe Morgan, shortstop Dave Concepción and outfielders Ken Griffey, Sr., César Gerónimo and George Foster (with Rose moving to third), the Reds won 108 games and took the pennant again. It set up a World Series match-up with the Boston Red Sox, which the Reds won in dramatic fashion in Game 7. Rose took the title MVP honor after hitting at a stunning .370 clip for the Series, and Sports Illustrated at the end of the year tapped Rose as its "Sportsman of the Year."

The team returned even more dominant the next year, sweeping the Phillies in the NLCS and going on to sweep the New York Yankees in the World Series. Personnel moves weakened the team the next year, and it was not until the 1978 season that Rose would supply some excitement to the franchise by putting together a 44-game hitting streak, which was the longest since Joe DiMaggio's 57-game streak in 1941. The contending Phillies lured Rose to Philadelphia for the 1979 season with a $3.2 million, four-year contract - at the time the most lucrative sports contract in history. Rose moved to first base in deference to Phillies slugger Mike Schmidt, who manned third. In 1980, batting .282 and knocking in 64 RBIs, Rose helped lead the team to its first NL pennant in three decades. The Phillies then scored their first World Series victory, defeating the Kansas City Royals in six games. Also in 1980, Rose divorced Karolyn, the union having produced two children. The Phillies made it back to the Series in 1983, in spite of Rose putting up career lows of 121 hits on a .245 average and losing his starting job by season's end. He showed some spark in post-season play, batting .344 but in limited opportunities. Baltimore dominated the Phillies to take the Series 4-1. Rose exacerbated the team's difficulties by publicly feuding with manager Paul Owens during the series over his more limited role. It led to his bolting the team the next year for the Montreal Expos. It proved an inauspicious stint highlighted by Rose, when on April 13, 1984, he recorded his 4,000th career hit in a game against the Phillies. It made him the second player in baseball history, after Ty Cobb, to achieve such a milestone.

Late in the season, Montreal traded Rose back to Cincinnati, where he joined his old team as both a player and manager. Also in 1984, Rose married Carol Woliung. He would take the field two more seasons with media buzz building as he neared Cobb's record. He broke it officially on Sept. 11, 1985, swatting a single off San Diego Padres pitcher Eric Show to record hit No. 4,192. Nearly 50,000 fans in attendance at Cincinnati's Riverfront Stadium gave Rose a seven-minute standing ovation. He retired after the 1986 season with a total of 4,256 hits and a career batting average of .303. Rose continued as the Reds' manager but with limited success, as the team posted a 416-373 record under his helm and, at best, second-place divisional finishes. With Rose ensconced as one of the sport's greats - assured a place in the Baseball Hall of Fame as soon as the requisite five years had passed since his retirement - the media naturally circled when, in spring 1989, reports began to emerge of an internal MLB investigation into his gambling habits. SI broke the story in a March issue and included the damning detail that one aspect of the investigation involved whether Rose had bet on - in addition to basketball, hockey and horse-racing - baseball games and, worse, Reds games, posing an egregious potential conflict of interest. Investigator John Dowd submitted his report to Commissioner Bart Giamatti in May 1989. Its findings included allegations that Rose had bet on baseball games while both a player and manager, including 52 Reds games in the 1987 season alone, and had doled out as much as $10,000 a day on the habit.

Rose denied all the allegations throughout and filed legal delays, but, per the sport's long-established Rule 21 prohibiting gambling, the league declared him "permanently ineligible." He resigned his position with the Reds and announced he would seek counseling. The IRS then charged Rose with filing false tax returns, particularly for failing to declare gambling winnings and sums he had charged for autographed merchandise. Nearly a year after the imbroglio began, he pled guilty and was sentenced to five months' imprisonment at a federal penitentiary in Illinois, a $50,000 fine, payment of $366,041 in back-taxes, and a thousand hours of community service. In 1991, in the wake of his release, the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, NY, amended its induction criteria to exclude anyone on MLB's "permanently ineligible" list.

On the family front, Rose's son by Karolyn, Pete Rose, Jr., followed him into baseball. The younger Rose spent 16 years as a minor league player with a brief call-up with the Reds in 1997. Despite his son's success, Rose's ban continued to haunt him. It remained controversial in ensuing years, particularly around the winter inductions of new classes to the Hall. In 1999, fans defiantly voted for Rose as a member of the MLB All-Century Team. The League office that October allowed him to participate in an event including living members of the team at Game 2 of the World Series. Rose's periodic petitions to the commissioner's office for reinstatement went rebuffed. In 2004, Rose published My Prison without Bars to much fanfare, particularly around his admission that he did, indeed, bet on Reds games while playing for and managing the team, but qualified that he never bet against the team. In fall 2004, the IRS came calling again, tagging Rose for nearly $1 million in back taxes unpaid from 1997 through 2002. Also that year, ESPN put out a telefilm, "Hustle" (2004), which starred Tom Sizemore as Rose and chronicled his off-field battles. Rose's marriage dissipated, meanwhile, and he and Carol separated. Though they would not divorce officially until 2011, Rose as early as 2009 had begun a relationship with Kiana Kim, the Korean-born owner of a hair salon, 40 years his junior and, soon thereafter, a model for Playboy magazine. After the couple's engagement, cable channel TLC greenlit a reality show intended to follow the build-up to their nuptials and exploiting, in particular, conflicts with their children over the May-November coupling. The show premiered in January 2013.

By Matthew Grimm




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