"Fire him up, fire him up!"
"Bring him some heat!"
The Cincinnati Reds are exhorting a blurred, three-inch-high image of the Mets' Jerry Koosman to throw a fastball past a similar likeness of Dodger Ken McMullen. The Reds are dressing for their game last Saturday with the Phillies and watching Pete Rose's tiny lockerside TV. Koosman is beating the Dodgers 4-1 with two out in the ninth and two men on. If he gets McMullen the Reds have a chance to gain a game on Los Angeles, whose torrid division-leading pace has Cincinnati seven games behind in the National League West.
"Don't mess around with that slider! Throw the heater! Throw the heater!"
Next to the TV is a box containing 17 shirts Rose has purchased. Rose buys shirts in volume, he has said, because he gets paid in volume to do such things as a picture in his locker portrays him doing. There appears in the picture only one human figure, an enemy catcher dauntedly regarding what looks like a low-lying explosion, from which issues a Reds hat. What we have is an actual photograph of Pete Rose descending in the form of a cloud of dust to score a headfirst run.
Koosman must have heard the Reds' advice. He gets McMullen on a high hard one, and L.A. loses for a change.
"The Reds are four in the loss column," announces Rose. He does not say "four down" because he doesn't believe in the concept "down" as applied to himself or the Reds.
"Rose is never down," says Cincinnati Pitcher Dick Baney. "When somebody gets him out it stimulates him. He shifts into another gear. He goes back to the dugout and yells, 'I'll get you.' "
"I've been on seven big-league teams," says Reserve Outfielder Andy Kosco, "and I've never seen such a leader. We will never stop thinking we can catch the Dodgers, because Rose won't let that happen."