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Rose Topples Cobb's Record for Most Hits

September 12, 1985|From Times Wire Services

CINCINNATI — Pete Rose broke Ty Cobb's career hit record Wednesday night, 57 years to the day after Cobb's last swing.

The historic No. 4,192 was a single, giving the Cincinnati Reds' player-manager the record at last.

His hit, the 3,162nd single of Rose's 23-year career, was a slicing liner to left-center on a 2-1 pitch from San Diego Padres right-hander Eric Show with one out in the bottom of the first inning.

After Cincinnati's 2-0 victory, the 44-year-old Rose was almost at a rare loss for words.

"It was one of those situations where the puzzle slowly, but surely, went together," Rose said. "It was like somebody wrote the script and I was playing the part."

The game was halted for seven minutes while the crowd of 47,237 cheered wildly, popped flashbulbs and threw confetti and streamers from the stands. Rose was given the ball and the first-base bag, then wept openly on the shoulder of his first-base coach, Tommy Helms.

He told his 15-year-old son, Pete Jr.: "I love you, and I hope you pass me."

The entire Reds' bench emptied to embrace the player-manager. Reds owner Marge Schott also ran onto the field.

Show trotted over to first to congratulate Rose, then sat on the pitcher's mound as Rose accepted a red Corvette, a gift from Schott, while fireworks exploded above the stadium.

Rose went 2 for 3 with a walk, finishing the game with 4,193 career hits, two more than Cobb. He had a triple in the seventh inning and scored both runs in the game.

Rose ended the game by robbing the Padres' Steve Garvey of a hit.

Thus toppled another of baseball's supposedly invincible records.

Still standing and deemed unapproachable are Joe DiMaggio's record of hitting in 56 straight games in 1941 and Cy Young's 511 career pitching victories. And now, Rose's record.

"This record will never be broken," said plate umpire Lee Weyer, who was umpiring at third base when Henry Aaron broke Babe Ruth's career home run record in 1974.

San Diego right fielder Tony Gwynn, the 1984 National League batting champion, said: "I can't comprehend 4,000 hits. It was a typical Pete Rose hit to left field."

Rose took the first pitch from Show high and outside, and he fouled the second pitch straight back. The third pitch was inside.

Then came the hit people were waiting for.

The ball sliced gracefully into left-center field, falling in front of Carmelo Martinez.

Rose rounded the bag, clapped his hands once, then gave Helms a double hand slap.

"No other record in no other sport has the impact of this," Garvey said.

Baseball Commissioner Peter Ueberroth, who watched Rose try but fail to break the record Tuesday night, was in New York during the big moment.

"All of baseball salutes Pete Rose for breaking a record experts said would never be broken," Ueberroth said in a statement. "His 4,192 hits is a tribute to his great talent and strength, his indomitable spirit and his iron will. Not only has he reserved a prominent spot in Cooperstown, he has reserved a special place in the heart of every fan alive today and every baseball fan to come."

Besides the 3,162 singles, Rose now has 738 doubles, 133 triples and 160 home runs. Cobb had 3,052 singles, 724 doubles, 297 triples and 118 home runs in a 24-year career that ended Sept. 11, 1928, when he popped out as a pinch-hitter for the Philadelphia Athletics at Yankee Stadium.

"I don't know where the last 23 years went," Rose said. "It seems like only yesterday that I stood in Crosley Field and got that first hit off Bob Friend."

That was on April 14, 1963.

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