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Morning Briefing

Niekros No Puzzle for Rose

September 05, 1985

Pete Rose was talking about some of the pitchers he has faced, and someone asked him to the name the best.

He named, among others, Juan Marichal, Sandy Koufax and Warren Spahn.

"How about Phil Niekro?" someone asked.

"I've gotten 70 hits off Phil Niekro. In fact, I've gotten more than 100 hits off the Niekro family," Rose said, alluding to Phil's brother, Joe Niekro. "That may not seem like much, but it's one-fortieth of 4,000 hits. I wish she had had triplets."

Add Rose: The closer he gets to Ty Cobb, the more crowded the clubhouse gets. Finally, Wednesday, he looked at the mob and said: "Why don't all you guys leave your numbers? When I get the hit, I'll call you."

Said Henry Aaron when asked by Milton Richman of UPI if he had any advice for Rose: "I'd tell him not to be surprised if he has a big mental letdown after he breaks the record.

"He has reached the top and he should accept it. That was my problem. There was absolutely nothing else for me to achieve on a personal playing level. Eventually, I realized there was no way I was going to bring myself up emotionally to where I was two or three years before."

Trivia Time: The Cincinnati Reds club record for most home runs in a game is three. What current member of the Reds shares the record? (Answer below.)

If Larry Holmes beats Michael Spinks at Las Vegas on Sept. 21, he will tie Rocky Marciano's record of 49 straight wins.

Said Holmes, who will earn a reported $3 million: "I'm fighting for money, not the record. The way my wife is buying Rolls-Royces and whatnot, I've got to keep fighting."

Someone asked if he were afraid.

"Afraid?" he said. "Yeah, afraid I might kill him."

Remember Cal's five-lateral kickoff return through the Stanford band that beat the Cardinal, 25-20, in 1982?

Paul Wiggin is still trying to forget it. He was the Stanford coach. The play ended his season 5-6, and following year he was fired.

Says Wiggin, now the defensive line coach for the Minnesota Vikings: "If it wasn't for that play, I wouldn't be here. It's hard that it came down to one of the most ridiculous things in all of sports."

Trivia Answer: Pete Rose. He hit three homers against the New York Mets at Shea Stadium April 29, 1978. After hitting the last one in the eighth inning, he was taken out of the game. That year, he hit only seven homers for the season.

Note: He had five hits in the game, giving him a career total of 2,996. Manager Sparky Anderson said if Rose got three hits the next day, the last day of the road trip, he would take him out of the game, so he could get his 3,000th in Cincinnati. It became academic when Rose went 0 for 4. The next week, he got his 3,000th at home against Montreal.


Martina Navratilova, on what Boris Becker would have been if he had been born in the United States: "A power-hitting outfielder."

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