In collaboration with the Sportsecyclopedia.com
After five seasons with the Philadelphia Phillies and a half-season with the Montreal Expos, Pete Rose is back home with the Cincinnati Reds. The Reds acquired the 43-year-old two days earlier and named him in the dual role of Player-Manager. Rose had an RBI single in his first at-bat as and went 2-for-4 as the Reds beat the Chicago Cubs 6-4 at Riverfront Stadium.
Pete Rose was the Reds hometown hero born and raised in Cincinnati on April 14, 1941. He was known for his hardnosed play and hustle. A key member of the Big Red Machine that won two straight World Series in 1975 and 1976, Rose collected his 3,000th hit and had a 44-game hitting streak in 1978. However, as the Big Red Machine began to be taken apart he signed with the Philadelphia Phillies for four years and $3.2 million for the 1979 season. In Philadelphia, Rose helped the Phillies win their first title in 1980 and became the National League’s record holder in base hits. After five years with the Phillies, Pete Rose began the 1984 season with the Montreal Expos. There he became just the second player in baseball history with 4,000 career hits as he began closing in on the record held by Ty Cobb.
While Pete Rose was thriving elsewhere, the Reds began to hit the skids. After winning the National League West in 1979, the Reds had the best record in baseball in 1981 but failed to finish in first place in either half of the strike season and did not make the playoffs. A year later the bottom fell out in Cincinnati, as the Reds topped 100 losses for the first time in franchise history. The Reds finished in last place again in 1983, as most of the core players that made up the Big Red Machine were long gone.
In 1984, the Reds brought back Tony Perez and signed Dave Parker, but continued to struggle under new manager Vern Rapp. The Reds had played well early in the season but went 8-19 in July leading the Reds in the midst of an ownership change to Marge Schott to look elsewhere. That elsewhere ended up being a reunion with Pete Rose, who was acquired from the Expos in a trade for Tom Lawless. Player-Managers had once been common in baseball but fell out of favor. In the 1970s there were only three that served the dual role, as Frank Robinson was the first Player-Manager since 1962 when he took over the Cleveland Indians in 1975. In 1977, Joe Torre briefly continued to play after being named manager of the New York Mets. While Don Kessinger held the role in 1979 for the Chicago White Sox before retiring and resigning, allowing Tony LaRussa his first managerial experience.
The Reds drew 35,000 at Riverfront Stadium for Pete Rose’s return. The Reds sat at 51-70 as they faced the first-place Chicago Cubs, who held a record of 70-50 under Jim Frey. Mario Soto started for Cincinnati as Dick Ruthven started for the Cubs. Chicago got a run in the first inning as Bob Dernier led the game off with a double and scored on a single by Gary Matthews. Gary Redus would lead off the bottom of the first and stole second base as Pete Rose came to the plate for the first time. Rose would get an RBI single and advanced to third with his trademarked headfirst dive on an error, later scoring on Brad Gulden single. Dave Concepcion followed with an RBI double to give Cincinnati a 3-1 lead.
Rose hit into a double play in the second, as the Cubs regained the lead on a three-run home run by Leon Durham in the third inning. Cesar Cedeno tied the game with a home run in the fourth. In the fifth inning, after Pete Rose grounded to short, Dave Parker hit a home run to give the Reds a 5-4 lead. The Reds extended the lead to 6-4 in the seventh inning, as Pete Rose had an RBI double off George Frazier, scoring Tom Foley. Soto, meanwhile went the distance improving to 13-6 as the Reds won 6-4.
Pete Rose hit .365 in 26 games with the Reds, as the team went 19-22 with him at the helm, finishing the season with a record of 70-92 finishing fifth the National League West. Rose would top, Ty Cobb’s record of 4,190 hits in 1985 and finished his playing career in 1986 with 4,256 hits. After retiring he remained manager of the Reds for three seasons until he was banned from baseball for betting on games in 1989.