And Rose was right. Koosman shook off a fastball, pulled the string and flipped up the change. Rose was ready. He saw the pitch every bit as good as once upon a time when he saw a Bob Veale fastball. He waited and slashed it on a line between short and third. Neither Schmidt or DeJesus even waved at the ball; it was as clean a hit as you'd ever see, and the stadium exploded as Rose dashed to first base, made his turn and then came back to the bag.
The scoreboard immediately lit up: TIES TY!, flashing that news alternately with 4191!
The throw came in, and Koosman made sure he got the ball himself. If he gave up the damn hit, he wasn't going to let some fool umpire hand the ball to Rose. Instead, as the crowd stood and roared, Koosman himself gave the ball to Rose and shook his hand. "A change," he said, shaking his head, grinning. "You have no shame."
"A hit's a hit," Charlie Hustle said.
"Well, you won't see that again," Koosman said. "And I'm throwin' pretty good tonight, too. You might see me the next time."
Rose just shook his head. "No, Koos, go put your jacket on and sit down." And then he pointed over to the Reds dugout and signaled. At first no one understood what he wanted, but then they realized he was beckoning for the microphone that was there for him to use to address the crowd—and America—when he finally broke the record. At that moment, too, his wife and infant son—the one he had named Ty—got up from their seats and headed down onto the field, along with Pete Jr., Rose's teenage son.
In the press box, the writers shook their heads. "If he does all this just when he ties the thing, he may talk all night when he actually breaks it," one said. But the crowd hushed.
"Ladies and gentlemen," Rose began. "Thank you. This has been the greatest moment of my life, and now I'm leaving the game. I'm not going to play no more."
There was a hush, then more and more boos. This wasn't fair, for Rose to wait another night before going for 4,192. But nobody understood.
"Yeah, I could beat old Ty tonight or tomorrow, but I decided I don't want to do that. If I'd come first, he'da played longer to beat my record, just the way I did to beat his. I'd rather stop right here, and this way I'll always be linked with Ty Cobb." That was the word he used: linked. "I like it better that way. Thanks a lot."