My Young Padawans, let us discuss character. No I don’t mean Bill Clinton (“His greatest political asset is that he has absolutely no shame”) or Barack (“You can keep your plan”) Obama.
No, in this case, I am comparing one Dick Howser and the inestimable Peter Edward “Pete” Rose. The former was a man among men who managed the Kansas City Royals to the 1985 World Series Championship. OK, in the interest of fair play to our friends in St. Louis, it was a combination of Don Denkinger and the Royals which defeated the Cardinals. But we then should also recall that St. Louis beat Milwaukee in 1982 thanks to a non-third strike call on Lonnie Smith from Pete (Shoe Size 16) Ladd.
But I digress. Dick Howser was a scrappy over-achiever as a player and man who got the most out of his players as a manager. His teams never finished below 2nd place in any season. The whole of Kansas mourned when he met his early end due to cancer.
Now let us briefly discuss Charlie Hustle. I will grant you that Pete Rose was a great baseball player. Well, I grant you that he was at least above average. With today’s sabermetrics and Rose’s proclivity to hit singles, his value as a fantasy player would be top 25, not top 5.
My beef with Peter Edward is not that he bet on baseball after his playing career ended (although he was the Reds manager at the time). While what he did was 100% against the rules of baseball, he never bet against his own team. If anything he was incented to win every game.
No, my beef goes back to the 1970 All-Star game when he effectively ended Ray Fosse’s baseball career. For those who haven’t seen the play, Peter Edward chose to go directly at Mr. Fosse on a play at home plate. He slammed into Mr. Fosse with such impact that Ray’s shoulder was injured – and would never fully recover.
Two points: The All-Star is an exhibition game. It is not intended to be career-threatening. But let’s say Mr. Rose got caught up in the moment. Fine. It happens. But you do not go after the catcher when you clearly have a path to the plate. Ray Fosse was slightly to the front of the baseline providing an opportunity for Rose to score should the ball come in late. But Rose chose to leap into the air at full speed and smash into the unsuspecting player.
Perhaps it’s just as well that Peter Edward was banned for life. He certainly has no place in the Baseball Hall of Fame.