Friday, September 10, 2010

A damaged hero, but one we will always remember.

It is difficult to like Pete Rose. It is difficult to hate Pete Rose.

He will be honored in Cincinnati tomorrow on the anniversary of his record 4192th hit 25 years ago to the day.

You admire what he did on the field. You abhor what he did off the field.

He was as good as it gets on the field; he was a really bad human being off the field.

He deserves his fate, the worst punishment of all for someone like him, forever being denied entrance to the pantheon to which his accomplishments so clearly destined him.

A terrible price. A deserved price.

Here in Philadelphia, the man is part of our history. The Phillies would never have won the first world championship in their history in 1980 without him. He taught them how to win and he showed them how to win.

In that final game against Kansas City, his catching a foul ball in the ninth inning in front of the first base dugout as it bounced out of the mitt of catcher Bob Boone is as indelibly ingrained in our memories as is Mike Schmidt rounding first base in the third inning and clapping his hands as he drove in what would turn out to be the winning runs or the  Tug McGraw leaping in the air as the final strike flew past Willie Wilson or The Tugger then turning, as agreed, for Schmidt to jump into his arms before the whole team piled on into a sprawling mass of ecstatic humanity.

Pete Rose will always have that. And it will have to be enough.

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