21. But What Really Happened?
Fans always assumed that the 1973 NLCS brawl between Rose and Harrelson was merely in response to Rose’s aggressive slide. However, it turns out that there actually may have been a bit more to the story than meets the eye. Harrelson himself has since admitted as much. So what exactly do I mean, you wonder?
Well, it turns out Harrelson ridiculed the Reds players’ skills shortly before that game. As a result, he heard that they were plotting to take revenge on him somehow during the game. Then, when Rose came crashing into him at second base, he naturally assumed that this was his fear coming true. He immediately reacted before he could even think twice about it.
22. Duck and Cover
Rose became a pariah among New York fans after the aggressive slide that started the famous playoff brawl. In fact, a fan in the Shea Stadium stands once even threw a Jack Daniels whiskey bottle at his head. Rose later joked that he was disappointed because the bottle was empty. I guess being able to laugh at yourself is one way of dealing with having enemies!
23. No Hard Feelings
So how exactly does Rose feel about Harrelson—the man who fought him and made him into public enemy number one among Mets fans? Surprisingly, he has no hard feelings whatsoever. In fact, Rose even blames the whole incident not on Harrelson, but on the Mets’ third baseman. He claims that player incited the whole thing by angrily running towards him as soon as he saw the slide.
24. Bad Blood
While there may be no hard feelings between Rose and Bud Harrelson, his relationship with Ray Fosse—the catcher whom he injured in the 1970 All-Star Game—is a different story. Rose has claimed that Fosse refuses to speak to him today or to even appear in public at events where the two of them would have to share the spotlight.
Rose has even gone so far as to claim that Fosse now believes he injured him on purpose!
25. Day In, Day Out
In the summer of 1941, Yankees legend Joe Dimaggio took the public on a wild ride when he recorded hits in a whopping 56 straight games, a record that many believe no one will ever break. The only person to have come anywhere near this feat was, you guessed it, Pete Rose. During an impressive 44-game hit streak, Rose sent the baseball world into a frenzy of daily speculation as to whether he might finally break the legendary record.
26. You Are the Father
In 1978, at the height of his baseball stardom, Rose was the subject of a surprise paternity suit claiming he was the father of a baby named Morgan Erin Rubio. This was particularly surprising because Rose was still married to his first wife, Karolyn, at the time. It would take a long time, but Rose eventually confessed to being the father and agreed to a settlement in 1996.
27. Jack of All Trades
Believe it or not, unlike the vast majority of star ballplayers, Rose never permanently settled into any one consistent position on the baseball diamond at any point in his career. In fact, he is the only player in big-league history to have made the All-Star team at five different positions over the years—First Base, Second Base, Third Base, Left Field, and Right Field.
28. Moving On
Not everyone agrees on exactly when the “Big Red Machine” era ended in Cincinnati, but one thing is certain—when Rose shocked the baseball world by announcing he was leaving his lifelong team and had signed a contract with their rivals, the Philadelphia Phillies, every Reds fan knew that the good old days were over.
The Phillies contract made Rose the highest-paid athlete in sports at the time—and he certainly repaid the favor in 1980 when he helped lead them to their first-ever World Series title in their nearly 100-year history.
29. His Majesty
After his time with the Phillies, Rose joined the Montreal Expos. During his first year with them, he became only the second player in Major League Baseball’s long history to have ever recorded more than 4,000 hits. As impressive as that was, it was what happened next that truly secured his place in the game’s history.
Late in the 1984 season, the Expos traded Rose back to his original team, the Reds, after a five-year exodus—and the homecoming went well. On September 11, 1985, Rose recorded the 4,192nd hit of his professional career. With it, Rose surpassed the legendary Ty Cobb’s longstanding all-time record for most hits. The baseball record books had crowned their new all-time Hit King.
30. Letting the Cork Out
As exciting as becoming the new Hit King was, it has not come without its controversies. One such example was the 2010 claim that Rose had cheated by “corking” his bats when he was chasing Cobb’s record—a big no-no in the baseball world. Despite Rose’s denial of these allegations, the collectors who owned the bats he had used in those historic games allowed them to be x-rayed.
Sure enough, the tests concluded that the bats did in fact show signs of corking. Awkward…
31. Take Two
Yet another controversy over Rose’s record ensued when researchers discovered that, contrary to the traditional historical account, Ty Cobb had never actually recorded 4,191 hits. In reality, a 1910 game in which Cobb had two hits had accidentally been counted twice. This means that technically speaking, despite all the fanfare on Rose’s big day, he had actually already broken Cobb’s record three days earlier without anyone realizing.
32. Keeping His Head in the Game
In addition to his famous record as Major League Baseball’s all-time Hit King, Rose also holds another highly impressive record that fewer people are aware of. With a whopping total of 3,562, Rose holds the all-time record for most games played at the big league level. This is yet another testament to the unwavering devotion he always had to the game of baseball.
33. Above Average
All true baseball fans know that .300 is considered the gold standard for batting average. Well, in what the hardcore fans may consider his most impressive achievement of all, Rose strung together no fewer than 16 seasons with a batting average of .300 or higher over the course of his career.
Upon his return to Cincinnati in 1984, Rose earned an unexpected promotion. While remaining a core player in the team’s lineup, the Reds decided that he was also qualified enough to simultaneously serve as the team’s manager. He remained the manager for the rest of his playing career, and continued in the role for another three years after that as well. Rose was the last full-time “player-manager” in the history of Major League Baseball.
35. Getting Physical
Just because Rose retired from playing in 1986 doesn’t mean his intensity slowed down even a little bit. In 1988, an umpire’s delayed call allowed a run to score against his team. Furious, manager Rose came barging out of the dugout to argue about it—and things went downhill fast. When Rose physically shoved the umpire during the altercation, he was immediately tossed from the game. The league handed a 30-day suspension for it, the longest for a manager over an on-field incident in baseball history.
36. The Beginning of the End
The public may have always viewed Rose as a controversial guy, but little did they realize, the true controversy had not even yet begun. In early 1989, a shocking report revealed that the league was investigating allegations that Rose had repeatedly bet on his own teams’ games—at wagers of over $10,000 a day.
37. Showing Him the Door
After a long and complicated investigation process, the MLB decided in 1989 that Rose would be permanently banned from baseball. He was the first individual since 1943 to receive this drastic punishment. This also meant that, despite his legendary playing career, the legendary Rose would now be ineligible for the Baseball Hall of Fame. Rose denied the allegations, but ultimately agreed to the terms of the ban.
38. Here Today, Gone Next Week?
Many fans have long objected to Rose’s Hall of Fame ban and continue to fight to this day for the legend to be forgiven. Eerily, supporters of this movement may have some allies among the baseball gods. Bart Giamatti, the MLB Commissioner who instituted Rose’s lifetime ban, died suddenly of a heart attack on September 1, 1989—a mere eight days after announcing his decision.
One surprising person who strongly supports the ban against Rose is his former teammate, fellow “Big Red Machine” superstar Johnny Bench. There have long been rumors of drama between these two, but none of it has ever been as public as a recent spat about the Hall of Fame. Bench has long argued that the league must uphold the rules, including the ban, for the sake of the game’s integrity. Finally, in the summer of 2019, Rose finally fired back.
Good old Charlie Hustle claimed in an interview that he was the true source of Bench’s success, and even went so far as to say that Bench “should thank God I was born.” Rose then stated that Bench would never have made it to the Hall of Fame if not for him, despite also admitting that his former teammate was “the greatest catcher of all times.”
40. The Big House
The years following Rose’s ban were not exactly good ones for his public image—and the headlines only got worse from there. In 1990, Rose served five months in federal prison for tax evasion. He had failed to declare income he had earned from selling autographs and betting on horse racing. He also had to pay a $50,000 fine and perform 1,000 hours of community service.
41. Tommy Tells All
In 2001, a blockbuster interview with Tommy Gioiosa, an amateur athlete whom Rose had mentored, brought even more allegations to light. Gioiosa claimed that he had taken the fall for Rose a decade earlier, after his mentor got involved in a drug deal to pay off his gambling debts. Rose has denied the allegations, and even accused Gioiosa of having been paid to invent the story.
42. The Truth Comes Out
In 2004, Rose finally came clean about the gambling allegations. He admitted that he did, in fact, bet on the Reds while he was playing for them and managing them. He added that he had actually bet on his team every single night, but always on them winning. I guess in a sense it gave him some extra motivation to succeed, as if he of all people needed any…
43. Daddy’s Little Girl
Many of you may be surprised to learn that Pete isn’t the only member of the Rose family to become a public figure. The baseball star’s daughter, Cara, is a TV actress who has appeared on shows like Passions and Melrose Place under the stage name “Chea Courtney.” She was born just two days before the MLB decided to ban her dad from baseball.
44. It’s All About Trust
Rose has applied to Major League Baseball for reinstatement several times over the last 30 years, but with no success so far. For example, he submitted a new request to Commissioner Rob Manfred in 2015, only to have it denied. Manfred argued that Rose’s continued habit of gambling on sports would preclude him from being considered trustworthy if allowed back into involvement with the league.
45. Breaking Up Is Hard to Do
Rose and his second wife, Carol, were involved in a messy divorce saga for more than a decade. Although the couple had been separated since 2009 over “irreconcilable differences,” it was only in late 2018, when Rose wanted to remarry once again, that he began pressing the court to finalize the process as quickly as possible.
46. Back to Reality
In the midst of his ugly divorce process with Carol, Rose began dating Playboy model Kiana Kim. He even proposed to her in 2011 (unfinished legal processes aside). Kim, who is 39 years younger than the Hit King, briefly co-starred with him on a short-lived 2013 reality show about the couple’s lives together.
47. Out of Left Field
In the aftermath of the Houston Astros cheating scandal, Rose once again asked Commissioner Manfred to reconsider his lifetime ban in February 2020. This time, he received some vocal support from an unexpected source—the White House. President Donald Trump shocked baseball fans and political analysts alike when, without any context whatsoever, he tweeted in support of Rose’s efforts to get into the Hall of Fame. Now that’s what I call a curveball!
48. Welcome Back
Although Major League Baseball has firmly enforced Rose’s ban for more than three decades, there was one time when they made an exception. In 1999, when fans voted him onto the sport’s “All-Century” dream team roster, the league permitted him to attend and participate in the once in a lifetime ceremony. Rose received an enormous ovation from the audience, reminding us that there are always people out there willing to forgive and forget even the messiest of mistakes.
49. The Past Comes Back to Haunt Him
No matter how much time goes by, Rose just never seems to be too far away from scandal. In 2017, it came out that Rose had slept with a minor back in the 1970s. He even had an ongoing affair with her while still married to his first wife. The scandal resulted in the cancellation of a rare appearance at a Phillies game, where the team was going to honor him on their “Wall of Fame.”
50. From Laughter to Tears
In 2010, Rose held a roast in honor of the 25th anniversary of his record-setting hit. However, it wasn’t the comedic knocks on him that made headlines the next day—it was the fact that Rose broke down and started weeping in the middle of the show. He candidly admitted for the first time that his antics had “disrespected” the game he loves. It was a side of him the public had never seen before, but I guess everyone has their breaking point!