OBSERVATIONS: Pete Rose’s Hall of Fame teammates

By Hal McCoy

UNSOLICITED OBSERVATIONS from The Man Cave, wondering if Colorado manager Bud Black has any hair left after watching his treacherous bullpen blow up game after game. In 48 years of covering baseball, I had never seen the tying run scored on a passed ball and the winning run score on a wild pitch on successive at bats. Then, with my own weak eyes, I saw Black’s Rockies do it for the Cincinnati Reds.

—Say what you want about Pete Rose — good, bad or indifferent — but the guy is forever fascinating.

He recently appeared on a podcast, something called Drinkin’ Bros. Sports and dropped this gem about what helped him play in 1,972 winning games during his 24 years with Cincinnati, Philadephia and Montreal.

Rose played on teams with catcher Johnny Bench, first baseman Tony Perez, second baseman Joe Morgan, shortstop Barry Larkin, third baseman Mike Schmidt, outfielders Frank Robinson, Tim Raines and Andre Dawson, left-handed pitcher Steve Carlton and right-handed pitcher Tom Seaver.

That is a complete team of Hall of Famers and Rose played with them all.

“I got to play with a Hall of Famer at every frickin’ position. That’s why I won so many games,” he said.

—QUOTE: From Pete Rose, on what he told his son, Pete Jr., about playing baseball: “I told him who to watch. I said if you want to be a catcher, watch Johnny Bench. If you want to be a right-handed power hitter, watch Mike Schmidt. If you just want to be a hitter, watch me.” (Did Pete forget to tell Re-Pete that if he wanted to be an all-around player, watch Joe Morgan?)

—It is maddening how all the Cincinnati Reds coaches and players continue to say that pitcher Luis Castillo is, “Close, very close.”

Close to what? Oblivion? A trip to Louisville?

After his most recent debacle in Coors Field against the Colorado Rockies, Castillo’s earned run average is 7.71, worst of all National League pitchers with 34 or more innings. And he is last in batting average against at .344 and he is last in WHIP at 1.795.

And the Reds have lost seven of his eight starts, the last six in a row. Castillo makes it difficult by constantly giving up runs in the first inning, putting his team behind a whole rack of pool balls.

There is at least one person who has been totally honest about the mess we’ve seen from Castillo so far this season. . .radio broadcaster Jeff Brantley. He is of the been-there, done-that school, believes Castillo’s mechanics are out of whack. And he has said just that on the air.

—When I was a kid, a century ago, one of my favorite Cleveland Indians was second baseman Joe Gordon. And my estimation of him went up 10 notches when I heard a story about him.

Jerry Izenberg, an iconic sportswriter from Newark, N.J., now 90 years old, was close friends with Indians outfielder Larry Doby, the first African American in the American League.

Izenberg said Doby told him that the first day he reported to the Tribe only two players would shake his hand. The rest turned their backs on him.

The two to welcome him? Joe Gordon and catcher Jim Hegan. And when Doby took the field before his first game, nobody would play catch with him until Gordon grabbed him to play a game of catch.

—QUOTE: From Larry Doby: “Kids are our future and we hope baseball has given them some idea of what it is to like to be together and how we can get along, whether you be black or what.” (Doby never got the recognition for going through the same things in the American League that Jackie Robinson endured in the National League. MLB should retire Doby’s No. 14, but they fear people would interpret it as retiring Pete Rose’s number 14.)

—Speaking of the Cleveland Indians, former infielder Joe Sewell was the toughest player to strike out in baseball history. In 14 seasons he struck out 114 times and never struck out three times in a game. In fact, he struck out twice in a game only two times.

And his career batting average was .312.

—The Miami Marlins will wear uniforms this weekend to honor the Havana Sugar Kings. The Sugar Kings played in the Triple-A International League and were an affiliate of the Cincinnati Reds from 1954 to 1960.

The Sugar Kings were transferred to Jersey City, N.J. when Fidel Castro staged his Cuban coup. Sugar Kings owner Bobby Maduro had plans to obtain a major league franchise for Havana but Castro’s takeover dashed those hopes.

Oh, and the shooting of a fan in the Havana stadium didn’t help matters.

—As long as Rob Manfred & The Boys continue to implement stupid and preposterous rules into the game, let me join the party.

Let’s change the ghost runner rule for extra innings. It’s unfair. One team might start the 10th at the top of its batting order while the other team starts the 10th at the bottom of its order.

That’s not fair.

My suggestion: Both teams start the 10th by placing their leadoff hitter on second base and the No. 2 hitter in the batting order is the first hitter.

Now that’s fair. . .and just as stupid as the ghost runner.

—People ask if I watch the NBA. I’ve seen Oscar Robertson.

—QUOTE: From Oscar Robertson: “They should have a rule. In order to be a sportswriter, you have to have played that sport at some level, high school, college, junior college, somewhere.” (Whew! Glad I played high school baseball, basketball and football, and some college baseball.)

—Heard Reds broadcaster Jeff Brantley giving radio partner Tommy Thrall the what-for because Thrall put ketchup on a coney.

Confession time: Call me King Ketchup. I put ketchup on coneys, hot dogs, hamburgers, scrambled eggs, omelettes and french fries. And I always order french fries in a restaurant with my steak dinner. I ask for ketchup, “For my french fries,” then discreetly drag my bites of streak through the puddle of ketchup.

And now the kicker: I hate raw and sliced tomatoes. Don’t anybody dare put tomatoes in my salad.



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