I have a few ballplayers that I hold near and dear to my heart. Partly because it brings back memories of a time my father and grandfathers would share stories and the great time I enjoyed while listening. With that being said, Mr. Pete Rose is one of those people, Charlie Hustle is more how I remember it.
I visited Las Vegas in March of 2019 for business and happened to see a flyer that was promoting in store Pete Rose signings and I just knew it was meant to be!
The first words I spoke to Mr. Rose before even shaking his hand was, "1963 ROY, 1973 NL MVP, 17 time All-Star, 2 time Gold Glove recipient, WS MVP, 3 time Batting title winner, 3 time WS champ and last but not least, the hands down Hit King (4256) aka Mr. Pete Rose himself". Mr. Rose looked me up and down, smiled and said "Sit down and relax kid."
Before having the pleasure of meeting the Hit King, I bought a Pete Rose stat ball and 1st edition Charlie Hustle comic book for him to sign. However, to my surprise Mr. Rose decided he wanted to have a conversation with me. If you know me, you know I was obliged to comply with the Hit King. This was definitely shaping up to be a great day and dream come true for me!
We started off with small talk that led to my first question, which was, "What team and/or players were on your radar while playing?" and the answer was clear, "the Pirates!" I quickly continued on with the Pirates theme asking him about his thoughts on Manny Sanguillen which Mr. Rose replied, "He's the only guy I've seen throw you out on his knees, wearing a smile ear to ear. Overall Manny was a great ballplayer."
Charlie Hustle spoke these words with complete confidence. Of course I asked about the "Great One", and Mr. Pete simply said at first, "Wow!" (taking a deep breath and then proceeded to say) "this is bringing back memories, what an amazing ballplayer. Clemente could throw out the wind with no problem. He was an impressive talent and an incredible man."
Our conversation went on for 15 minutes, which we talked about everything from current issues, his favorite Greek foods (of course it was Gyros) and his take on current ballplayers and their salaries. It was personally a "bucket list" accomplishment for me.
After wrapping up our conversation Mr. Rose noticed I was wearing a 1972 Pete Rose jersey with the matching Reds ball cap. Mr. Rose took it upon himself to sign everything I had wore to the store!
I've heard stories about Mr. Rose being unapproachable and borderline rude, but I can tell you with the utmost confidence that these observations are absolutely false. If you're a fan of the beautiful game of baseball and you're in Las Vegas anytime soon, I suggest you go visit Mr. Rose and make some memories of your own! Thank you Mr. Rose for being the best!