Last night, 9/11/2010, I had the extreme pleasure of witnessing, in person, three rows behind my beloved Reds dugout, a ceremony honoring one of baseball’s all time legends, Pete Rose. It marked the 25th anniversary of his career’s astounding accomplishment, reaching 4,192 hits. Before the game between the Reds and Pirates began, they played a video montage highlighting Pete’s career in baseball followed by an on-camera interview of sorts in which Pete spoke of his love for baseball, his feelings about beating Ty Cobb’s record when he smashed his record breaking 4,192 hits and his regrets regarding his misconduct (betting on baseball) that lead to his expulsion from the organization. After the jumbo-tron tribute, the air in the stadium was electric as every fan stood riveted, waiting breathless for Pete’s entrance. Suddenly the doors to the back of the stadium swung open to reveal the Hit King himself, sitting atop a golf cart. He was driven at a snail’s pace around the edge of the field, waving to his cheering, camera wielding fans. The lady next to me said that Pete would not be permitted to tread on the field because of his unfortunate status with the league. Hearing that sent me over the edge. I glanced at her husband whose eyes were overflowing with tears and could not help but join in the weeping. Everyone began chanting, PETE, PETE, PETE and HALL OF FAME, HALL OF FAME, HALL OF FAME!!!!!!!!
All of a sudden, as his cart reached first base, Pete sent the crowd into a wild frenzy as he leapt from his perch and jogged with a hero’s heart toward first base. He kept pointing from his hat emblazoned with the Reds logo to his iconic number 14 embroidered on his famous jersey. I later learned that Pete was banned not only from baseball, but also from uttering even one syllable in thanks to his throngs of fans that stood by him no matter what. I have a profound love for Pete and the Big Red Machine personally, as I was a child during those halcyon days of Reds baseball. My father left me at age 5 and I spent a great deal of time with my maternal grandpa. He offered me the male influence a little girl so desperately needs. And with that, my memories of him are forever tied to those championship days, as he’d take me to watch them in awe. And when we didn’t have tickets, we’d listen to the game on the radio in his car or curled up together in his old Lazy Boy recliner. Just grandpa and me and The Big Red Machine.
After Pete spent a magical amount of time atop first base, a one time only ocurance that was nearly banned too, he strode back to his golf cart, head held high, surely soaking in the unconditional love from his fans.
Natural light, small crop, no edit, now it’s time to give Pete his long overdue recognition. HALL OF FAME!
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