Cubs History

Chicago Cubs History: Pete Rose ties Ty Cobb at Wrigley Field

Duane Pesice
(Photo by Ron Vesely/MLB Photos via Getty Images)
(Photo by Ron Vesely/MLB Photos via Getty Images) /
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On September 8, 1985, at the Friendly Confines, the Cincinnati Reds’ venerable first sacker Pete Rose connected for two base hits off Chicago Cubs hurler Reggie Patterson, tying Ty Cobb’s long-standing total hits record at 4,191. The game was called on account of darkness and Rose was able to break the record at his home ballpark three days later, taking an Eric Show fastball and depositing it into the outfield.

That was September 11, a day which was later to be known for bigger things. Beware of darkness, George Harrison famously crooned, and that’s certainly operative here. On August 23, 1989, Rose received a lifetime ban from Major League Baseball, handed down by then-commissioner A. Bartlett Giamatti (who was voted in on this date in 1988), a ban which has not yet been rescinded.

I say ‘not yet’ because it seems apparent to me, that with the advent of legal gambling booths in ballparks, MLB has winked at the idea, and Rose has never been one to ignore a come-hither glance.

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That is, unless it threatens his current occupation as baseball autographer. Seriously – Rose travels the country, signing baseballs for a living. The man has no shame. A stint in prison for tax evasion and a ban from the sport he loved (and presumably still does) hasn’t dampened his enthusiasm for the Seventh Avenue treatment.

I never took any comfort there. But Pete is happy to.

Shoeless Joe Jackson and the other Black Sox have never been reinstated, but the environment wasn’t as positive for them while they were alive as the current one is for Rose. It’s pretty obvious by now that Rob Manfred and his upper-management group have no scruples and that their contempt for the paying customers knows no limits.

The only thing that they’ll consider is whether or not the action would be profitable in the monetary sense. A reinstated Pete Rose would be an instant candidate for the Hall of Fame, and that seems highly problematical. There are worse people already in the Hall, but the current sociopolitical climate might make that effort insurmountable. Might. I wouldn’t put it past MLB to engineer some incident where Rose comes off as the hero, just to make that happen, and they’re always willing to put on a coat of lacquer and spin.

Chicago Cubs: Pete Rose made a lot of history during his baseball career

The man’s career, if not his attitude, was certainly something to celebrate. He went all-out, all the time. There’s a reason why he was called “Charlie Hustle”.

And reinstatement in Major League Baseball would be his biggest hustle. Fanduel and DraftKings give the odds at maybe five percent positive, and climbing. I wouldn’t bet against it.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, Reggie Patterson, who almost didn’t survive the previous winter in Venezuela (he and his wife were robbed and he was shot in the back), has a second life in the record books. Leon Durham famously said that “Some guys will do anything to get in the record book,” after Patterson gave up the second hit. He was only part of 22 games over a five-year period, between 1981 and 1985. His stats are nothing to write home about, but hey, he was once a Major Leaguer, and that counts for something.

He’s 62 years old now, having been born November 7, 1959, in Birmingham, Alabama, which makes him a Scorpio. Birmingham has been the birthplace of quite a few notable players – Willie Mays, Lee May, Carlos May and the star-crossed Lyman Bostock prominent among them.

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Some maintain that Patterson actually gave up the record-breaking hit, due to a clerical error. So perhaps he can have an asterisk as well. Not much more is known about Reggie Patterson.

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