No. 41: Pete Rose

The question is this: Can any boy with moderate athletic ability simply will himself into becoming a great baseball player? I’ve thought about this a lot. When I was a kid, I wanted to play Major League Baseball. Every kid I knew wanted that. I was small and not obviously talented (or even subtly talented). But I did make our league All-Star team as an 11-year-old because I fielded well and had something resembling bat control, and we weren’t going out of town on vacation the day of the All-Star game like many of the other families were.

I thought I wanted baseball success badly. I would bounce balls off a brick wall and field grounders until the baseballs had been chewed up to the yarn. I would beg my Dad or friends to pitch to me every day. I would spend hours practicing the exchange from glove to hand for the double play — for some reason I was convinced that this was to be a crucial skill for me. Even now, I suspect, I can make that lightning fast exchange.

And then, one day, it just occurred to me: I wasn’t going to be a Major League Baseball player. Who was I kidding? If I wasn’t the best player on my little league team, that meant I wasn’t close to the best player in the league. If I wasn’t close to the best player in the South Euclid Little League (All-Star Game notwithstanding), then I probably wasn’t one of the thousand best players in Cleveland. And the math grew starker from there. I don’t recall my baseball dreams ending in one bold moment but instead it was a gradual realization.

What is childhood but a gradual realization?

Anyway, I briefly had other dreams — of becoming a pro tennis player, of being a famous lawyer, of living in a van with three friends and a dog and solving mysteries. But looking back, I wonder: What if I had NOT given up on baseball? What if the whole math conundrum had not discouraged me in the slightest? What if I had wanted it 200% more than I did? What if I had lacked all self awareness, if I would not listen to reason, if I had a father who pushed me maniacally, if I had worked at baseball 10 hours a day instead of two or three? What if I wanted to be a Major League Baseball player so badly that nothing else filled my mind, nothing else even seemed possible?

Could I have been Pete Rose? Could you?

* * *

The five tools of baseball are hitting, hitting with power, speed, fielding and arm. Of these, Pete Rose had only one. He could flat hit a baseball. His father, Big Pete, made sure of that. Harry Rose was a legendary athlete on the West Side of Cincinnati, a tough-as-nails semi-professional football player into his 40s, and he expected his son to be a ballplayer. This was not optional. When Lil’ Pete was 8, Harry went up to his Little League coach and struck a deal: The coach would let Lil’ Pete switch hit. In exchange, Lil’ Pete would never miss a game and would play his little guts out. In a way, Harry Rose’s deal with that coach lasted a lifetime.

Lil’ Pete Rose wasn’t fast. He wasn’t athletically graceful. He threw awkwardly. He was uncommonly strong and probably could have hit with power — he hit double digit home runs every year from 1965-1971 — but he developed a swing built for batting average instead. Batting average was water to Pete Rose. He would drink eight glasses of his batting average every single day. If you offered to give Pete Rose five extra batting average points in exchange for his pinkie toes, Pete would have been an eight-toed man.

No one outside of the Rose clan saw Pete Rose as a prospect. Pete and his father and his fathers’ friends begged the hometown Cincinnati Reds to sign him. The Reds showed almost no interest at all in doing so. It’s hard to know for sure, but it seems likely that the Reds only signed Rose so that all these people would stop bugging them about it. They shipped him off to Class D Geneva where, I suspect, they expected his baseball career to die a quiet death.

But he played pretty well. The next year, they shipped him off to Class D Tampa, and the kid hit .330 with 30 freaking triples. THIRTY! He stole 30 bases too, and this guy couldn’t run. So, what the hell, they sent him to Class A Macon, and he hit .330 again. Then they brought him to spring training and that kid wouldn’t stop running and cracking line drives and diving for every moving ball — he was possessed.

“Look at Charlie Hustle over there,” Whitey Ford supposedly said to Mickey Mantle after Rose tried to catch a Mantle homer that sailed 20 feet over the right field fence.* Most of the other players on the Reds resented the hell out of the kid. Don Blasingame was the Reds second baseman, and he was a good one, and he had paid his dues. This Pete Rose kid had no business trying to take Don Blasingame’s job, and they made sure he knew that. They made the kids’ life as miserable as they could, and they did make him miserable. He kept on swinging and kept on hustling anyway.

*I’d always heard it was Mantle who gave Rose the nickname after running to first base on a walk — that’s certainly how Rose has always told it. But according to this apparently well researched version of Today I Found Out, it was actually Ford who came up with the nickname. And, to be honest, that’s a better story.

After a while, some of the black players on the team — particularly Frank Robinson — saw in Rose a kindred spirit, someone who was treated as an outsider, but kept on going relentlessly. They took him in. The others now had a new reason to attack Rose — this as the civil rights movement exploded around America. Rose wasn’t much interested in all that. He idolized Robinson. Frank Robinson was a BALLPLAYER.

Becoming a ballplayer was the only ambition that ever registered with Pete Rose. He lived a life without a second option. Pete Rose was not unaware of his various athletic shortcomings — indeed, he spent countless hours improving on those — but he seemed unaware that such shortcomings could prevent him from becoming a star baseball player. He never seemed to have a moment of self-doubt. Hey, he could make up for his lack of speed with aggressiveness and decisiveness; few have stretched more singles into doubles and doubles into triples by simply not stopping. He could make up for his lack of natural grace in the field by sacrificing his body and rarely making a mental mistake. He couldn’t throw well, but he could throw well enough. Anyway, if he hit .300 and smacked 200 hits every year, nobody would worry about the other stuff.

And he was right. From 1968 to 1976 — years when pitching dominated the National League — Pete Rose hit .319/395/.444, (a 136 OPS+), scored 110 runs a year, hit 35 or 40 doubles a year, and he regularly played right field, left field and third base while occasionally playing a little second base, first base and center field. He befriended Joe Morgan — Morgan would always say that Rose was a major factor in his Hall of Fame success — and he was exceedingly kind to young players, and he was the vocal leader of the Big Red Machine. He was basically the Derek Jeter of his time, and like Jeter he was overpraised by many and uniquely despised by many others. He made himself into baseball’s biggest thing.

Such hunger, though, is a mixed blessing. You don’t have to be a psychologist to connect Rose’s need for action on the field to his need for action off the field. You don’t have to follow too many dots to get from the man who crashed into Ray Fosse to win an All-Star Game to the man who went on a 44-game hitting streak while his personal life was falling apart to the man who bet tens of thousands of dollars on his own team when he was the manager. He was really good at baseball. He wasn’t that good at life.

This Top 100 is crowded with extraordinary athletes and golden-armed pitchers, men who understood at a very young age that they had been blessed with a gift. Rose represents another category, a group of players who simply could not imagine a life where they were NOT baseball legends.

Could you or I have become Pete Rose? Well, it’s not so simple. Rose certainly had gifts — hand-eye coordination, a quick mind, an almost indestructible body. There have been people who have worked as hard at baseball as Pete Rose, and perhaps even harder, who never even became Major Leaguers. But I wonder if there has ever been anyone who was quite as convinced as Pete Rose. That’s the word. Convinced. And that’s a sort of talent too.

95 thoughts on “No. 41: Pete Rose

  1. 18thstreet

    The start of this piece resonates with me. I recall having a similar, specific realization that if I wasn’t the best basketball player on my block, there was no way I was ever going to play in the NBA. I was 11.

    Reply
    1. NevadaMark

      I had that AH-HAH moment when I was playing high school ball. Remember Derek Whittenberg, starred on that NC State team that won the title? When I was a senior we played his high school team and I was having a decent game. Shot goes up, I get good position next to Derek, we both go up…..and he hits me in my head with his SHOE. I realized right then it was time to think about other options in life.

      Reply
  2. Jose Brando

    It’s time to move on and bring Pete Rose into the HoF where he belongs. In light of what the game has been dragged through over the past two decades, it seems more of an injustice with each passing year. Pete Rose embodied the spirit of baseball for every second he was on the field and has acknowledged and payed his dues for off-the-field shortcomings.

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        1. Gene

          I was recently in Cincinnati (first time) to see a Reds game. There were vendors outside the park selling t-shirts that said “I’m With Pete: Give me $200 on the Reds.”

          I saw a fair number of fans wearing them.

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      1. David

        This is a common misconception. Rose is not “banned for life”– he is permanently ineligible, whether alive or dead. He may get a wave of sympathy when he dies, but he will not become eligible unless the rules change.

        Reply
    1. DjangoZ

      No.

      I’m proud that the HOF does not have Pete Rose or Barry Bonds or Mark McGwire in it.

      Cheaters should be punished, and for all three the punishments are relatively light.

      Increasingly we live in a country where cheaters and liars are glamorized so long as they make lots of money or are good at their craft (sports, music, picking stocks, etc.). No matter if they cheated or hurt others to get that success.

      This glamorization and adulation of that kind of behavior is bad for us as a country. It makes it normal and acceptable.

      “Do whatever you have to in order to get ahead, you’ll be famous and loved in the end” is about the worst possible message to send to people.

      Reply
      1. Hardy

        There is a regional baseball museum in upstate New York. But if it doesn’t have Rose, Bonds or Clemens, it’s not a HOF. I think baseball should establish one.

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      2. Robert

        Django, such a curious post.

        First, I don’t think anyone called Pete Rose a cheater; that is to say, he bet on baseball, but there was never any proof he bet against his own teams – that would potentially make him a cheater, but even then you’d have to prove he manipulated events to help him win his bets. Never heard he did anything of the sort.

        Second, I don’t see how roid users “hurt others to get that success”. Hurt themselves, maybe, but that is not a proven fact either (there is evidence going both ways on that one).

        Finally, this type of glorification, as you call it, has been around forever. It’s not like this is something new to the US or anywhere. And some bad news: It’s likely not going away anytime soon.

        Reply
        1. Robert

          And just thinking further about it, if you didn’t allow any cheaters into the hall of fame, you’d have to kick out a whole lot of the guys in there already. Don’t forget, most players took amphetamines from the fifties up through the nineties.

          You can’t be a little bit pregnant: either all cheaters are eligible or they are not, and you can not parse between the sins of one versus the sins of another.

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          1. Pat

            Surely Adderall can’t taste that much like goblin urine, Karyn? Let’s give him or her the benefit of the doubt.

        2. roundeye11roundeye11

          Robert, on your second point, I heartily disagree. PED users did and do hurt others. Certainly there are many cases where a relatively marginal player using PEDs bumps a clean player out of the majors. It is clearly absurd to think only the greatest players use PEDs.

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      3. Beffenette

        The HOF isn’t about sending a message, it’s about celebrating the best in baseball history. And that definitely includes Bonds, Rose… They are a part of that history.

        Reply
  3. deviator77

    I don’t know if it matters, but I figured you’d want to know that, I’m pretty sure, the way Mickey Mantle tells it, he gave Rose the nickname Charlie Hustle when he wouldn’t stop chasing a fly ball until he hit the wall, but it went 40 feet over the wall. I want to say that I heard it in an interview on Talking Baseball with Ed Randall.

    Reply
  4. Jake Bucsko

    It’s always been funny to me that Pete Rose has said steroid users are worse than his betting on baseball, because you just know that if you held out a pill and said “This will make you hit better” , he’d swallow your hand before you finished the sentence.

    Also, don’t believe what tell you: Pete Rose is in the Hall of Fame. When I went to Cooperstown for the first time a couple years ago, I was surprised to see memorabilia from him, as well as Bonds, Clemens, ARod, etc. The plaque room is the very end of your tour, and you won’t find him there.

    But for those who argue that the Hall is a museum and he should be there so people can learn about the history of baseball, well, that argument is over. He’s in. He just doesn’t have the honor of being enshrined, and maybe that’s as it should be.

    Reply
  5. Roberto

    Sometimes when I read this amazing blog, I think Joe might be my doppelgänger. As the Great Valley Little League All-Star 2nd baseman, I also spent hours “practicing the exchange from glove to hand for the double play.” Little did I know at the time that I had reached the pinnacle of my burgeoning athletic career. Oh, the sad realizations of youth!

    It’s probably a good thing that Pete Rose never grew up.

    Reply
  6. bellweather22

    I dislike Rose intensely. But you do have to give credit to a guy who didn’t have a lot of talent and didn’t just contribute but starred in the league. Still, unless your are talking specifically about singles or walks, the guy was a disaster and a horrible human being. He still doesn’t really get it that gambling on his own team was all that bad. The problem is, nobody who matters agrees with him.

    Reply
    1. roundeye11roundeye11

      Bellweather….”a horrible human being”? Perhaps you can say he seems unlikable, disreputable, narcissistic, or some other terms but “a horrible human being”? Where does that put Hitler? Pol Pot? Stalin? Need to leave a little wiggle room there on the extremities of language.

      Reply
  7. Tom K

    I agree, a key to Rose is his conviction. What that means, of course, depends on which meaning you’re using.

    Reply
  8. Alan Spatrick

    Growing up, a kid a few years older was named John Tudor. He was a good 1B/pitcher in little league. Nowhere near the best at either position. Was the # 3 pitcher on a good high school team in Peabody, MA. Went to a Massachusetts community college (not a baseball school). Walked on at Georgia Southern. Got drafted late by the Red Sox. Made the majors at age 25, became a good major league pitcher, then at age 31, had an awesome year for the Cardinals, and would have won a Cy if not for Gooden’s spectacular year. Go figure.

    Reply
    1. Mark Daniel

      I remember having a book about the Red Sox back in the ’80s. It was sort of an encyclopedia type thing. It had little bios about every player on the team, as well as some prospects. I recall the bios for pitchers often included something like “Went 8-0 with a 0.49 ERA with 132 strikeouts in 72 innings pitching for So-and-so High School.”
      But I noticed lefties were not nearly as impressive as righties. John Tudor may have been one of them, in fact, but I don’t remember. The one I recall most was Matt Young. He was like 5-4 with a 3.78 ERA as a senior in HS.

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      1. bellweather22

        I forget who it was, but a younger player was being interviewed after a game and the interviewer mentioned that he hit .500 his Sr year in HS. He responded that at the time he thought that was pretty good, but had found out that a lot of major leaguers had done that, or better. So, bottom line, he said it turns out to be not that big of a deal. So, a few more teenagers can do the math.

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      2. Phil

        There’s a really funny bit in Ball Four along these lines…It’d take me forever to find the exact page, but the players are sitting around comparing their bios in the team yearbook, or maybe what was on the back of their baseball cards, and for one of the really marginal players it notes that he was used for late-inning defense in college. This cracks everybody up because, as Bouton points out, most major leaguers did everything in college—they’d pitch, go 21-0, and bat clean-up.

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        1. Mike Schilling

          Mike Krukow often makes the point that all pitchers thin they can hit, because in high school they were always batted cleanup. This is probably less true as the (yeccch) DH keeps migrating to leagues for younger and younger kids.

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    2. Dave42

      One of my favorite things as a little league father is to try to figure out which kids have a chance. You have the Billy Beans of the world who were unstoppable until they got to the pros. You have guys whose bodies couldn’t hold up due to injury or other (Josh Hamilton may be the biggest “what if” ever). You have Mike Piazza (62nd round), Albert Pujols (13th round), Keith Hernandez (42nd round) and undrafted guys like John Axford, Heath Bell, Matt Stairs, Keith Foulke. What did they look like as kids? How about the 12-year old on my son’s team with 10 home runs in 8 games this year and the unhittable fastball? What will he look like in 6-7 years?

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      1. bellweather22

        Having been through it, most LL parents don’t ever even see a player that will make the bigs. So just assume “none of the above” when wondering about such things.

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  9. Blue

    Plenty of preternaturally talented 8-11 year olds don’t develop adult bodies that let them become professional level athletes. Plenty of scrawny 8-11 year olds grow into bodies that let them do so. If Pete Rose doesn’t grow into a 5’11″, 200 lb guy with an athletic frame all the hustle in the world wouldn’t have helped him. Regardless, to hit as well as he did his eyesight has to be well above the normal range.

    Reply
  10. Pete

    My grandmother is a huge baseball fan and she despised Pete Rose for running over Fosse. But, when I was 9 she gave me a 1965 Pete Rose card for Christmas, she respected him as a ball player. This was before the whole gambling thing, I think a lot of people feel that way about him, like him and dislike him. Good story Joe.

    Reply
  11. Dave42

    I’ve always thought one of the more remarkable stats ever is that Rose had 991 hits starting with his 39-year old season. He was one of my favorites growing up. Now he’s dead to me. I believe from the Down Report that he bet against his Reds not just on them.

    Reply
  12. Jono Schneider

    Beautiful post, Joe. Finally a conversation about how the guy played baseball. The whole story, ending with gambling, is unbearably sad. What do we do with it? With him? I don’t think any of us really know.

    Reply
  13. Craig From Az

    Pete Rose’s father was a semi-professional football player into his 40s? I think that most likely excludes Pete Rose from the “not a natural athlete” group. Maybe he wasn’t Bo Jackson, but he had some good genes.

    Reply
  14. Anon

    My favorite Pete Rose factoid involves not him, but his son. Jr. got a cup of coffee in 1997 but then went back to the minors and toiled there for another 12 years before retiring after 2009 with almost 2000 games and 8000 PA in the minors, the last 7 of them in non-affiliated independent leagues.

    Reply
  15. David

    Btw, Joe, don’t forget to tag your posts with the “100 Greatest” tag. I was going to go look back at some of the old ones, and apparently the last one so tagged was Reggie Jackson (#59). Just a friendly reminder!

    Reply
  16. DM

    Greetings…..

    Thought I’d continue my “round the diamond” positional update on Joe’s picks, who the WOC predicts is still to come, and other thoughts. For the sake of brevity, I won’t repeat the format explanation here, but if you didn’t catch the initial entry under Pedro Martinez’ entry, you can see it there, or you can go to this address (thanks to Bepd50 for setting up the alternate posting site):

    http://poz100analytics.wordpress.com/2014/05/14/pedro/

    The question is, since this is Pete Rose’s entry, which position is appropriate to review? Maybe more than any other great player in history, Rose lacks a true defining position. Killebrew was fairly spread out between 1B, 3B, and LF, but Rose has between 500 and 1,000 games at 1B, 2B, 3B, RF, and OF. He had more games at 1B than any other single position, but he really didn’t play that as his primary position until the tail end of his career, and I consider him less a 1B than any of the others. He basically played the equivalent of 4 seasons at each of the other 4 positions, so you could consider him at any of those. For this purpose, I’ll consider him as a LF.

    At this point, Joe has only named 4 left fielders, with 5 more predicted to come. I’ve seen Joe Jackson listed as a RF, and Musial as 1B in other places, but I’m including both of them with the left fielders:

    1. “Poz-to-Date” (Joe’s picks so far at this position)
    Name – Overall Rank – Poz Rank at Position
    Tim Raines – 88 – 9
    Joe Jackson – 81 – 8
    Monte Irvin – 71 – 7
    Pete Rose – 41 – 6

    2. “WOC Crystal Ball” (Predicted picks remaining at position)
    Name – Overall Rank – Poz Rank at Position
    Carl Yastrzemski – 39 – 5
    Rickey Henderson – 19 – 4
    Stan Musial – 9 – 3
    Ted Williams – 5 – 2
    Barry Bonds – 3 – 1

    Left field is definitely a “leaders” position, containing the all-time leaders in games (Rose), at-bats (Rose), plate appearances (Rose) hits (Rose), OBP (Williams), HR (Bonds), runs (Henderson), walks (Bonds), stolen bases (Henderson), and singles (Rose). And that leaders list doesn’t even include Musial and Yaz, both of whom could play a little…..

    3. “Close but no Cigar” (Next 5 players that I think could have been considered at the position)
    Al Simmons
    Manny Ramirez
    Ed Delahanty
    Goose Goslin
    Billy Williams

    LF is a really deep position. 3 of those above (Simmons, Delahanty, and Williams) were listed among Bill James’ top 100. I think any of those would have been a reasonable top 100 pick. If I had to pick one of the 5 as “next in line”, I guess I’d go with Simmons, but really, they’re in a pretty tight cluster for me.

    4. “Maybe Down the Road” – Among current players, I’m not seeing a lot of real strong candidates. Matt Holliday and Carl Crawford have the highest career WARs, but I don’t see either one as top 100 material. Probably the one with the best chance is Ryan Braun. He’s got 1 MVP, one second place finish, and one third place finish, along with a rookie of the year, and he’s only 8 seasons into his career. He’s building a decent resume. Obviously, his suspension isn’t going to help his case, but maybe if he behaves himself from this point on, he’ll do enough to make people overlook that. He’s having a pretty decent bounceback season this year. I’d still say he’s a real longshot, but he’s got the best chance.
    .
    5. “Guilty Pleasure” – As a reminder, the criteria here is someone not in the HOF, not mentioned on Joe’s list or the WOC, probably well short of top 100 status, but someone that I think is generally overlooked in the sweep of history.

    I considered players like Lance Berkman, Jose Cruz, and Bob Johnson, but I’ll go with Minnie Minoso as my guilty pleasure. Basically, Minoso could do anything. He had power, he had speed, and he had good plate discipline. I’m always drawn to players that have good across-the-board skills. When you look at Minoso’s page, you see that he led the league, in various years, in games, hits, doubles, triples, steals, and total bases. To be fair, he also “led” in caught stealing several times, plus once in GIDP. In addition, he had 10 (yes, 10) years in which he led the league in HBP, and he accumulated 192 in his career. The value of his HBP was equivalent to 25 points of OBP.

    I’d say the defensive metrics don’t provide a real consensus, but I always got the sense that he was a good defensive outfielder, and he certainly threw out a lot of runners (not that that proves anything, as we all know). I have an image of him as a very adventurous player, making a large number of both assists and errors, both steals and caught stealing.

    Above all, my favorite fact about Minoso is that, after retiring at age 38 in 1964, he came back 12 years later in 1976, at age 50, and played in 3 games, coming to bat 8 times, actually getting a single in one of his appearances. Then, 4 years later in 1980, he came back again for a couple of more games at age 54. In addition, in 1993 (age 67), he made an appearance with the independent St. Paul Saints. Apparently, he’s still kicking at age 88. I halfway expect him to show up one more time. Here’s to you, Minnie!

    Interested to hear other’s thoughts.

    Later,
    DM

    Reply
      1. DM

        Hi NevadaMark,

        Maybe to a certain degree. Clemente also made a lot of errors to go with a high assist total. Although, while I think Minoso had a reputation as having a good arm, Clemente might have had the best (or at least one of the best) ever.

        Fun fact – the players atop the “most errors for a right fielder” listing are the 3 best Pirates right fielders ever – Dave Parker (134), Roberto Clemente (132), and Paul Waner (131). Must have been something in the water……

        Aside from that, there are lot of key differences between Minoso and Clemente. Minoso despite a batting average about 20 points lower, had an OBP that was 30 points higher since he walked (and was hit by a pitch) much more often. Minoso was much more prolific as far as stealing bases (and getting caught). I always got the sense that Clemente had good speed, but he just wasn’t much for attempting to steal.

        So, I guess I see some sameness of type, but some key differences as well. For example, they never experimented with Clemente at third base (OK….for the nitpickers out there….he did play 1 game there) :)

        Reply
    1. Crowd of Full Pockets/Shattenjager

      In the 1950s, among those with 1000 games played, two of the top three in OBP were named Mickey (Mantle) and Minnie (MInoso).

      I once read a writer claim that Minoso was second only to Mantle in OBP in the ’50s, which I thought was hilarious and awesome and then discovered was not actually true. However, I’m pretty sure the way I said it above actually is true. While it’s less hilarious and awesome, it’s still pretty funny and pretty awesome.

      I love what you wrote about Minoso–he’s definitely someone who gets overlooked and was a great player. Plus the line about him being “an adventurous player” is perfect.

      Reply
  17. Rick Rodstrom

    In Moneyball, Billy Beane talked about how in baseball, where failure is so much a part of the sport, personality is a talent which doesn’t show up on scouting lists. For instance, Beane contrasted himself, who was physically gifted but plagued by self-doubt, with his minor league teammate in the Mets farm system, Lenny Dykstra. Dykstra was a sociopath, never given to doubt or self-reflection, who would gladly do anything and destroy anyone in pursuit of his goals (which was borne out in his later life, when he cheated not only investors, clients and vendors out of their money, but his own brother, son and mother). As much any physical attribute, one’s attitude determines one’s success in baseball. Pete Rose was perhaps the personification of this ideal, someone who got the most out of his ability through sheer drive and determination.

    I should add that it is not only those borderline psychotics like Rose, Dykstra and Cobb whose temperaments were among their greatest gifts. There are those relentlessly positive personalities like Stan Musial, or supremely self-confident types like Derek Jeter who don’t see failure the way the rest of us do. In fact, there are many different personality types that lend themselves to success in sports. One can be obsessed with routine like Wade Boggs, possessed of inner faith like Mariano Rivera, or driven to prove oneself like Jackie Robinson, but in each case, these were character traits that allowed the players to overcome the failure and frustration inherent in baseball and rise to greatness. When assessing athletes in any sport, one’s mental attitude is a talent just as important as any physical gift.

    Reply
    1. James

      Or maybe you’re picking the great players, and then thinking about what personality traits you see in them after the fact, when those same traits don’t seem determinative when you see them in your server…there’s a name for it, some sort of bias…

      Reply
  18. Herb Smith

    That may be true, James, but the larger point (that “personality” is a legit tool, and a hugely important determining factor in a player’s success or failure) stands.

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  19. Rick Rodstrom

    Forgive me if I used only great players as examples of how character can help determine success. Personality is not only a factor in the success of the superstars, it can be what gets you to the big leagues, or keeps you there, even in lesser roles. Guys like David Eckstein and Juan Pierre became the best players they could be despite modest gifts because of their relentless focus and the ability to ignore all the doubters. R.A. Dickey is still pitching in the majors through sheer strength of character. Jose Lima had the most boundless self-confidence I ever saw for a guy with so little stuff. And I’m sure there were a lot of guys with the utmost faith in themselves who never made it to the show. You still need some measure of athletic ability to succeed in the pros.

    Similarly, just as there are marginal talents who owed their careers to positive attitudes, there were great players with character flaws who didn’t achieve their full potential, but still had good careers nevertheless. Think of all the players who battled personal demons that led to emotional breakdowns and substance abuse—some of them are in the Hall of Fame, while others flamed out altogether.

    Success is achieved through a combination of factors, both physical and mental. It’s easy to see a guy who can hit the ball 450 feet or throw it 100 miles an hour. It’s harder to see a guy who will drive himself to being the best he can possibly be. That was Pete Rose’s talent.

    Reply
  20. Michael Garrett

    Joe,

    I had a strong visceral reaction to your line “He wasn’t that good at life.” In the context of your piece the comment makes perfect sense. And if your work rarely ventured into philosophical arenas I would probably dismiss it as as a colloquialism. But your work is routinely introspective and that’s why the disparage feels out of place.

    Pete Rose is no angel. Anaheim wouldn’t have him. He is dislikable for sure. But he has a family. He has friends. He inspired people and teammates and he pissed off people and teammates. He won as much as he lost. Pete Rose has not sucked at life. He has just lived his life.

    Pete Rose was a damn good baseball player. Pete Rose is a bit of an asshole. As a society we inconsistently judge each other on certain merits and actions. Celebrities are celebrated just for being celebrities. And we especially enjoy those who fall from high places. We even shake the ladders sometimes.

    I don’t believe life is divine or sacred. It is unique though. And according to the best data available it is rare in the universe. So colloquialisms aside, Pete Rose is just living a life. A very lucky life. He makes mistakes but yada yada yada. I’m not arguing for him to be in the Hall of Fame. I just saying that his life may be as good as yours or mine. We don’t know. Life is much more complicated than baseball.

    PS: You are one of my favorite baseball writers. Thank you for what you do.

    Mike

    Reply
    1. Karyn

      The guy is a convicted felon, tax cheat, and philanderer. He’s a liar, a blowhard, and an egomaniac.

      He sucks at life.

      Reply
  21. Alejo

    A man that has within him the makings of a self-made hero and a pariah, and realises both in one life, is surely bigger than most of us.

    Reply
  22. James

    Sorry, Rick, didn’t mean to sound that negative. Personality (character? drive?) play a huge role, I’m just resisting easy categories. There are probably some proper studies on the make-up of the top tier, 99.999 most successful performers, in areas beyond sports too, I would think…

    Reply
  23. Mark

    I loved the post. I just don’t get Rose at 41. No one has suggested that he provided any real value defensively. So his ranking must be based on his offensive contributions. But in my view, Griffey, Chipper, Boggs, and Lajoie, for example, all had more offensive value. How do you justify Rose so high? I know Bill James had him even higher…but I don’t get it.

    Reply
    1. Doug

      I would argue that he did provide value defensively. I don’t see any indication that he was a great defender at any one position, but versatility is also a skill, and being able to perform competently or acceptable at several different positions is really useful, especially if you’re also a good offensive player. And you can see that in Rose’s career – his ability to move around the diamond allowed teams he was on to add other offensive threats in the lineup.

      In terms of offensive contributions, he was a very good player, and was consistently good for an extremely long time. That’s not nothing. I would say he’s in the same echelon as a Chipper or a Boggs in terms of offensive value provided – Chipper’s definitely ahead of him but the gap is not as large as you’re making it out to be.

      More to the point, though, this list has always seemed like it’s more about the players Joe likes best or wants to talk about than about strict value. And not to go out on a limb here but it just might be the case that Joe has some kind of feelings or thoughts about Pete Rose over and above the value he provided on the baseball diamond. I mean, call me crazy, but…

      Reply
    2. DM

      Mark,

      One of Woody Allen’s quotes (at least I think it was attributed to him) probably applies here. “80% of success is showing up”.

      Pete Rose was one the best ever at showing up. There might have been a few who could match him on that point. Hank Aaron comes to mind as someone who was consistently excellent, never really had a bad season, never really missed any serious time. Gehrig was another. They were obviously greater players, as were many others. But how many great players were as consistent, year after year, as Rose? Nearly every great player had a year where he struggled or missed significant time to injury.

      From the time he established himself at age 24 (his 3rd year) through age 40, Rose really never had a bad year or missed any real time. In those 17 years, he failed to hit .300 only twice, and even then he managed to hit .282 and .284. You could basically count on him for about 160 games, 200 hits, 40 doubles, .310 average, near .400 OBP. Year-in, year-out. He was as reliable as they came. The value of that is hard to overstate. Every player you Griffey, Chipper, Boggs, and Lajoie), as great as they were, had years where they missed significant time, or they weren’t up to par. You can consider them as better than Rose, and you may be right, but Rose was someone you could absolutely count on every year. And, as great as he was, if you take Boggs out of Fenway, he’s a .306 hitter with a .387 OBP. In essence, those are Pete Rose numbers…..except that Pete did it over a much longer time.

      Rose is the all time leader in games, plate appearances, at bats, hits, singles, and times on base, and he’s second in doubles, sixth in runs. You could certainly argue that many others reached higher peaks, and I’d probably agree with you. He was never the best player in baseball at any point in time during his career, but there is tremendous value in having someone you can count on who you know is going to be there and performing at a high level. Bill James once commented that career length (and games played) is one of the more significant things you can look at to determine greatness. Not the sole determinant, of course, but a very telling measure. Yep, Pete Rose “showed up” more consistently than just about any player ever. I think he merits being this high.

      Reply
      1. DM

        I should mention on my post above, of course, that my comment about Gehrig’s consistent excellence and “never missing any serious time” applies to his career prior to the tragic end of his career. I was hoping that was obvious….but I thought I’d clarify before anyone points that out. :)

        Reply
      2. Mark

        DM, thanks for your reply. I think you make good arguments regarding his offensive value and remarkable longevity. We all have different approaches to ranking. A friend of mine regularly debates me about what is more important, peak or longevity. Admittedly, I tend to favor peak (although not exclusively). Griffey, 10 slots behind Rose, was a top 3 player in the league for 10 years. He accumulated over 80 WAR despite the second half of his career being decimated by injury. Chipper Jones, 15 slots behind Rose, had a remarkably consistent career, combining power and strong on-base skills. I think he had a better overall career than Rose. But a lot of these judgments go to what qualities we value most. Thanks again.

        Reply
        1. DM

          Hi Mark,

          Thanks for the post. I definitely agree with your last comment. We all know great players when we see them, but when it comes to ranking them, a lot of it does come down to personal preference of what we place value on, and some degree of subjectivity. Like you, I do tend to put a lot of weight on peak rather than just looking at career value, so maybe I’m inconsistent in how I consider and rank Rose. I’m sure I’m influenced by the fact that I am a big Reds fan, and I basically grew up with the Big Red Machine. Amazing to me that Rose was really only the 3rd best player on that team, as I do believe that Morgan and Bench were greater players. All 3, in their own ways, were very important leaders on that team.

          Rose definitely set the tone and the personality of the club. I still have vivid images of him playing in an extra 25 feet in the ’76 World Series against Mickey Rivers. Rivers was coming off perhaps his best season, finishing 3rd in the MVP voting (behind Munson and Brett), and coming off a very strong performance in the ALCS against the Royals. On the advice of their scout Ray Shore, who thought that keeping Rivers off base was a big key to winning the series, Rose played in tight on Rivers, effectively taking away the bunt and “getting in his face”, at least figuratively, forcing him to try and slap it past him. You’d have to conclude it worked, as Rivers went 3 for 18 and only scored once. According to Shore, Rose played in even closer than he expected him to. Shore said: ”I had told Pete to play in, but when I looked up, I didn’t expect Pete to be shaking hands with him.” :)

          That was vintage Rose. So was the whole migration to third base about a month into the 1975 season, which is the stuff of legends in Reds Country. You’ve got a 34-year old star, 2 years removed from an MVP, and Sparky Anderson asked him to try his hand at 3B despite virtually never having played it before (he had 16 games at 3B in 1966), so that he could get George Foster into the lineup at LF rather than having to go with the likes of John Vuckovich at 3B. The team was struggling along with a 500 record. Pete was quoted as saying: “Well, if you don’t think it’ll hurt the team, I’ll try it,” We know the outcome.Foster was a big hit in LF, Rose wasn’t a great third baseman but he played it well enough, and the Reds won 2 straight championships. I suspect a lot of superstars would have resisted that kind of position move that far into their career, but he made the decision easy for Sparky.

          He was a very aggressive, in your face kind of competitor. The Harrelson/Rose brawl in the ’73 playoffs, the crashing into Fosse in in the ’70 All Star game, his reaction (to Gene Garber) when his 44 game hitting streak ended, the consistent head-first sliding, the whole “Charlie Hustle” image….I can certainly understand why a lot of people didn’t like him or the way he played. But to lots of people, he played the game the way you’re supposed to. And his teams consistently won. Even when he was 39 years old, he was still a big part of the Phillies winning it all in ’80. Sure, Schmidt, Carlton, McGraw, and players like that were bigger reasons, and Rose certainly had great teammates in Cincinnati too, but he ended up on a lot of winners. As to what portion of the success is attributable to him vs. his teammates…..well, I guess that’s up to us to decide.

          Reply
          1. Mark

            I remember the Yankee series, with Rose baiting Rivers. He kept creeping further in and further in. Completely got in Rivers’ head. And as a Sox fan, I remember his ’75 Series. Heck of a competitor.

  24. Richard

    Aside from his gambling problems, I think another reason that Rose gets overlooked / is underrated when talking about The Greatest Players of All Time is that he isn’t solely identified with a single position.

    Henry Aaron? Stan Musial? Mantle? DiMaggio? Outfiled. Gehrig? First Base. Ruth? Pitcher, then Right Field. Schmidt? Third base….

    Rose? He was a starting All-Star at FIVE positions. Among the All-Time Greats, you can easily find a better player than Rose at every individual position on the field. But one who played at several very different positions? Good luck.

    Reply
    1. bellweather22

      -14 dWAR suggests that teams kept unsuccessfully trying to find a position where they could hide him… And keep his bat in the lineup. These days he’d be signed by an AL team and DH’d.

      Reply
      1. Ian R.

        dWAR includes a positional adjustment. Rose accumulated virtually all of that negative dWAR in his late 30s and 40s, when he was playing first base primarily or exclusively. It’s almost impossible for a first baseman to not have a negative dWAR; even Keith Hernandez is only barely in positive territory.

        Rose looks like a bad defender largely because he played for so long. In his younger days, he was fine at several different positions. Not great, but playable.

        Reply
  25. Michael Green

    I was thinking about Rose when I heard the news that Bob Welch had died. In one of his first big league games, Rose was engaging in bench jockeying. Rick Monday yelled at him from the Dodgers dugout and Rose had to be physically restrained from going after Monday, who apparently made some reference to Rose resembling what comes out of the back end of a chicken, and I don’t mean an egg. That brought to mind Lasorda, when he was the 3B coach, telling Rose that the Dodgers voted him the second-best-looking player on the Reds. Rose asked who was first, and Lasorda replied, “The other 24 tied.”

    Now, more seriously. Jon Miller once talked about how silly the Hall of Fame looks without Rose–he compared it with China having Mao in some photos and airbrushed out of others. But then he said that he believes the Hall of Famers have told the people who run the place that if Rose is there to be inducted, they will not come back for the ceremony. It occurred to me that Joe Morgan has been very active at the Hall of Fame, and of course he and Miller worked together for almost 20 years, so I would bet Morgan told him that. I also recalled that when Marty Brennaman got the Frick Award, Johnny Bench warned him not to mention Rose, which Marty did anyway. So I think there’s more to this than just whether Rose gambled–it’s also the reaction of others.

    Was Rose a great player? How many were as good as he was at five different positions?

    Reply
  26. Tom Pareti

    Pete had a WAR of 13.3 in four seasons as a 2B, not exactly great. As a 3B he had a 17.2 over four seasons which is VG but also not great. His 1.2 WAR in five seasons as a 1B speaks for itself.

    I guess my point is he wasn’t GREAT at five positions. Yes he was an all-star at five but those were the results of fan voting and his popularity. Rose not being good defensively at any position made him a prime candidate for being moved for other players. Players like Aaron, Dimaggio, and Gehrig were excellent at their positions so it would have been silly to move them. As far as Musial – he did play four positiions and was an All-Star at each (LF, CF, RF, 1B).

    More accurately Rose should probably be considered a great offensive player that was versatile defensively.

    Reply
    1. bellweather22

      His dWAR was negative at every position he ever played. He was terrible in the field. The fact that he accumulated WAR with his bat says nothing about his ability in the field.

      Reply
      1. Ian R.

        Rose has a career Rfield of -54. He played for 24 years. That means he was, on average, between 2 and 3 runs below average each season. That’s far from terrible.

        Reply
      2. DM

        I think there’s some room for disagreement here. His 3 best dWAR years were +1.4 (1974), +1.4 (1973), and +0.7 (1972). All 3 of those years, he was exclusively a left fielder. The other year that he was primarily a left fielder was 1967, and he was slightly negative (-0.3) that year, although he also spent a portion of his year at second base, so I’m not quite sure how that splits out.

        He had other years where he played a few games here and there as a left fielder, but those 4 seasons make up the bulk of his games played there, and his net was a +3.2, give or take whatever partial adjustments you’d have to make for those other years where he played a few games there. My interpretation of this is, if we’re going to lean on dWAR, is that it’s true that he registered negative figures at first base, second base, third base, and right field, but that he achieved decent results specifically in LEFT field.

        I watched him play a lot over his career, and I think that makes sense. I think left field was his best position. He didn’t really have the arm to play right field, he was kind of short for a first baseman, and he was kind of a “battler” at third and second rather than someone truly skilled at those positions. I think he was more than adequate in left.

        Reply
  27. otistaylor89

    Pete Rose played 162 games in 1982 at age 41. I haven’t looked it up,but he has to be the oldest player ever to play 162 games.
    I go back and forth on Rose – he really did stur the pot on those great teams, even though he wasn’t the best(or 2nd best) on the team. He really was a 1st baseman, because of his arm, but didn’t play it until the end because of his height. They may list him at 5’11″, but he wasn’t. He had a pretty good postseason career too and it seemed like he Alway performed on national TV. Having said that, it seems there are a lot of players behind him on the list solely because their careers were much shorter than Pete’s, which is not right.

    Reply
  28. larry morris

    I looked back at his stats seeing how he is rated so high here,to see if i was really forgetting something, but i would say his 64th lifetime WAR rank is closer to where he should be than #41

    Reply
    1. DM

      The quick answer to this is, why would you expect or even want any list of the greatest players to align that tightly with the WAR listing. WAR’s fine as a starting point, but what’s the point of saying that anyone’s WAR ranking should indicate where they finish in a personal listing? Are you saying that players you would rank Tom Glavine, Mike Mussina, John Clarkson, Roger Connor, George Davis, Fergie Jenkins, TIm Keefe, Eddie Plank, Cap Anson, Bert Blyleven, and Phil Niekro, (just to name a few), ahead of Rose on a greatest player list? Those are all very good players with WARs greater than Rose, and some of those could have easily been listed somewhere on this list, but there’s no way I would put any of them ahead of Rose.

      Harmon Killebrew is tied for #173. Are you disappointed he was named as a top 100 player?

      I’m sure Johnny Bench is somewhere still to come as a top 40 player. He was #76 in WAR. Will that be a disappointment too?

      Ernie Banks is #118 in WAR, and he was #55 on Joe’s list. Should he have been outside Joe’s top 100?

      The point is, we can all look up a listing of players by WAR. We don’t need for Joe to simply parrot that back to us or to ensure that no one is too far astray from where WAR implies they should be. WAR is one way to look at things. It’s not the ultimate arbiter.

      Reply
      1. DM

        Quick note on my post. Blyleven, of course, is on Joe’s list at #68. I didn’t mean to imply that he wasn’t. But, like the others, he has a WAR greater than Rose, but I would not put him ahead of Rose.

        Reply
        1. larry morris

          thanks for reading lots of things into one runon sentence that isn’t there and then ranting about it. I find your reply funny since you getting worked up over nothing to do with my post. but out of courtesy i will reply to it.but all i said he is closer to 68 than 41 ie rose is at best 55

          to answer your question yes i would rate some of those guys ahead of rose, but then again when i say “greatest of all time”, i don’t immediately remove 99.9% of the players from before i was born from the discusiion. to use one of your names,Cap Anson. Cap is in many ways like Rose as a player , but he could also be the single most important person in the history of the game, and he has more WAR than Rose,so can he be above Rose if you count the other stuff? yes.

          ernie banks could be removed from the top 100 and not many people would have complained, but ernie is a nice guy so he gets in

          niekro gets dinged because he was a knuckleballer, and if there is a discriminated class in baseball it is knuckleballers, never mind the fact he has a similar career length to rose,and that he helped his team more than rose.

          but it probably comes down to the peak vs longevity thing. lets compare the 2 outfielders with war of about 75….one has a waa of 28.2 and one has a waa of 50.2. everything being equal(they are not in reality) i am taking the guy with the higher waa.

          Reply
          1. DM

            Larry,

            I few things….

            Not sure why you would characterize my post as a “rant”. I guess I can’t control how you react to it. I was merely trying to make some points over your observation that Rose should have been closer to his WAR ranking. Maybe you weren’t exactly saying that players in general should be close to their WAR ranking. If so, then I apologize. Maybe you were just saying that you felt it applied in Rose’s case.

            Also glad you found it “funny”. Glad I could provide some kind of joy. Yours was kind of funny in parts, too. For example, that part about Niekro helping his teams win more than Rose. I suppose you’re basing that on WAR as well? I think the notion that Niekro “helped his team more than Rose” is quite funny. Look, I’m with anyone that thinks Niekro deserved to be on a top 100 list. I agree that knuckleballers tend to suffer from a lack of respect. I agree with all of that. But to imply that Niekro was a greater player than Rose? Sorry, I’m not buying that one.

            Speaking of funny….I find it kind of funny that you have concluded that Rose is “at best 55″. I’m impressed that your personal rating system is so sharp that, out of the 18,000 or so players that played Major League ball, you would have been OK with Rose at #55, but #41 really puzzles you. Really? Those 14 spots are bugging you enough to comment on it?

            You want to consider Cap Anson among the greatest ever? Have at it. By all means, consider him. But don’t take his literal WAR or WAA or anything else as concrete evidence of how he should compare to other players that came along much, much later. Statistics only have meaning in context, and anyone working with those figures know that they are relative measures, and Cap Anson was a star in a sport that was in its infancy. You can certainly conclude that he was among the best of his era. However, If you’re going to compare him across the entire span of Major League baseball, you need to make some pretty significant adjustments to account for the development of the sport and the quality of the play. It’s a lot easier to generate a high WAR in a time where there was a greater disparity of talent from top to bottom. Even by the time you roll around to players like Wagner, Cobb, and Lajoie, there was still a great disparity of talent from the best to the worst. That’s a big reason why their stats are so impressive by today’s standards. They weren’t supermen….they were just a lot better relative to their competition, more so than any modern player could ever hope to be. Stats are relative. I don’t “exclude” anyone from consideration, regardless of era…..but you have to make some reasonable adjustments for the evolution of the game.

            Also, you lost me on the comparison when you said “the 2 outfielders with war of about 75….one has a waa of 28.2 and one has a waa of 50.2. everything being equal(they are not in reality) i am taking the guy with the higher waa.”. Sorry…I get that one is Rose….but who’s the other outfielder you’re referring to? It helps your argument more when you actually identify who you’re talking about.

            Also, and I know Joe can speak for himself, but I seriously doubt that he included Banks in the top 100 because “Ernie is a nice guy”. I think hitting over 500 HR’s, including 5 times hitting 40 or more while playing SS, may have had a little to do with it.

  29. kb

    Some folks have commented about what a jerk or an a-hole Pete Rose is. I’ll admit the man is greatly flawed, has shown some very poor judgement in his life and probably has his priorities mixed up compared to most of us. But I met Pete Rose and a-hole is not the word I would use. In fact I found him to be very kind, enthusiastic and at least gave me the perception he had consideration for my thoughts and feelings. Now I never married the man or was his teammate. Those kinds of relationships are different and people tend to take advantage of those they are closest to. No, I was a complete stranger to Pete Rose, but he more than met my criteria for keeping on the positive side of the Golden Rule.

    Reply
  30. tombando

    *Rose being at 41 works for me. Sure why not?

    *Arguing about WAR is like arguing about how many hitpoints your D and D characters had in HS. It’s all BS. Use WAR as a guidline not the bible. Sheesh. Burt Blyleven’s Armor Class of 4 means he gets to use a +3 bastard sword against the Astros and he has 111 hitpoints. Good $%4ing Christ. How many homers Giant Robots hit inside the Astrodome against steroided up Roger Clemons pitching? Fuck me sideways.

    *Any top 100 that leaves out Al Simmons or Goose Goslin or Fergie Jenkins or Wahoo Sam Crawford but includes Monte Irvin or Blyleven or Lou Whitaker, really, isn’t worth your time. But thanks for playing folks.

    Reply
  31. javajim

    Here’s a trivia question for you… For six straight years– from 1963 to 1968– Curt Flood, Willie Mays, and Roberto Clemente won the three NL outfielder Gold Glove awards. Who ended this streak and who did he replace?

    A: Pete Rose, by displacing Willie Mays.

    Rose had a darn good glove. Believe it or not, he’s the only outfielder in the history of the game to be in the top 10 in fielding percentage in two different outfield positions. He’s ahead of Ichiro Suzuki in career RF fielding percentage. He’s one of only 45 players to have ever led the league in fielding percentage five or more times, and the only person to do it from four different positions (RF, LF (twice), 3B and 1B, his best finish at 2B was 2nd). He won two gold gloves while playing right field, and was arguably the best statistical LF in baseball from 72-74. He was one of only three outfielders to post back-to-back 20 or better zone runs saved seasons in the 70s. Rose’s LF performance was so good that he’s #12 in career zone runs despite only playing the position for four seasons.

    Rose didn’t have the foot quickness to be an elite defensive infielder at a premium position. He didn’t have a great arm (but he did have a quick one, which allowed him to be above average in holding runners). Once he got the hang of playing outfield, his range was actually well above average for a corner outfielder (from 1969 to 1974 he never finished lower than second in range per game at his primary position), and his fielding was stellar.

    He was a much better defensive outfielder than he was an infielder, but the Reds had a surplus of outfielders and a terrible defensive hole at 3B. Rose would never be confused with Brooks Robinson, but he was a considerable improvement over Dan Driessen. For what it is worth, Rose’s career 3B fielding percentage is better than Adrian Beltre’s and his range/9Inn is better than A-Rod’s.

    Reply
  32. JD_Bogerdy

    I had a Pos moment my Junior year of High School? Through little league, I was always the best on my team and top 3 in the league. Moving on it stayed the same, always having been one of the best players on a very good team. Into high school, I made varsity as a sophomore. SS was my position and during the offseason into my Junior year I felt I made great strides.. However, another player, a senior named Darin also played SS for Varsity…..since freshmen year.

    I played Darin all through little league, even upsetting his team in the playoffs one year. I always believed I was the better SS, from little league up to Varsity. But Darin was a better hitter for average, power and was the fastest kid in my school. Scouts showed up at a number of games to watch him play. I could not compete on those levels. we went to the NY State Finals that year where we ended up losing.

    Darin graduated and moved on to playing for 2 different colleges, neither of which could be considered top program schools, before getting drafted in ’06 or ’07 I believe.

    Him and his path had a profound effect on my future in baseball. The following year, my senior year, I was the go to SS and I was ecstatic! I practiced harder than ever before, I took the game more seriously than I ever had. I saw what path could lay in front of me and i wanted it! However, as the season went on, doubt crept in. My fielding was still solid, but I didn’t come around at the plate like I had hoped for. Halfway through the season I was no longer the best player on the team. Scouts would appear at some of our games, but I slowly realized, that the majority of them were here to see our new star catcher, not me. I recieved no official offers that year and so I had 2 choices. Play college ball at a minor program with the hopes of honing my skills, or call it quits, I had a blast!

    Sadly and unfortunately, I chose the latter. And not a day goes by that. Don’t regret it. I KNOW I could have walked onto my local community college’s team. And who knows, with the right coaching, the desire to get better, and the work ethic which I believe was and is a strength of mine; maybe, just maybe I could have “Charlie Hustled” my way further along into the industry.

    Alas, I shall never know. But I think about it more than I wish I did. I DO believe that being very good at one thing, CAN be good enough. It doesn’t mean it will, but it is a starting point and is symbolic of one’s character. I truly regret not continuing to try as hard as I had at one point. As they say; You Never Know Unless You Try! I didn’t try hard enough. But to answer Pos’z question; Yes, you absolutely CAN will yourself to be a great baseball player!

    FYI – the Darin in the story is Darin Mastroianni, who is fighting for a place on the Blue Jays roster. I hope he makes it. He has the will!

    Reply

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