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Show threw me slightly inside to Rose, who let me go by, raising the count to 2 and 1. It was scary: The whole way in, Rose stared at me like a hungry man eyeing a piece of fruit. He didn't seem his usual chatty self at the plate, either. Pete was really concentrating.
Show wanted me to curve into Rose on the next pitch, so he put me in his slider grip. But as I was about to cross the inside half of the plate, Pete jumped on me. I saw his black bat flash and bam! I was flying toward left centerfield. I bet Pete knew it was a hit even before I did. That comes with experience. I could see the confetti and the streamers and the balloons flying from the upper decks even before I hit the ground. The noise from the crowd was absolutely astounding.
I came down about 15 feet in front of leftfielder Carmelo Martinez. I bounced off the AstroTurf and shot high in the air. Pete was watching me. I wanted to show him something. Martinez reached up to grab me—I mean, he just got me—and saw Rose already making the turn to second base. Martinez fired me in to shortstop Garry Templeton. I think Martinez is a little mad at me, though. If I hadn't bounced so high he would have run me back to the infield and handed me to Pete himself. But there was enough going on as it was. Fireworks began shooting off. A big 4,192! flashed on the scoreboard. And the other Reds were pouring out of their dugout, led by 15-year-old Pete Jr. Joining them in a swarm around baseball's new alltime hit leader was Show and the entire Padre infield. Young Petey reached his father just before 43-year-old Tony Perez got there. " 'Bout time," Perez told his teammate. "I been waiting 23 years." Then came Garvey. "Thanks for the memories," he told Rose.
Templeton handed me to Pete, who in turn handed me to Petey. I didn't feel at all slighted. Rose was being hugged and slapped and buried in an avalanche of noise. After a moment, Perez and shortstop Davey Conception even tried to hoist Rose onto their shoulders. They had it planned all along. After getting him partway up, though, Perez said to the 205-pound Rose, "You're heavy."
The procession continued. Reds owner Marge Schott came out for a long embrace and a kiss. She signaled to the outfield. A door opened and out rolled a brand-new red Corvette with PR 4192 license plates.
Then everyone cleared away and Pete stood alone. The cheering went on and on and on. You could tell Pete didn't know what to do. So he raised his index finger and then looked up to the sky. He smiled as if he had recognized somebody up there. His father maybe. Or Cobb. Then he started to cry. He turned to Helms, his old friend and teammate from their minor league days together, and buried his head on Tommy's left shoulder as if to hide his tears.
Petey came out again after five minutes and hugged his dad long and hard. "Don't worry about it, son, you'll beat my record," his dad told him. It was a poignant moment. Many of the Reds were by now crying, too. Only after seven solid minutes of applause did the crowd settle down and the game resume. I was taken down to the locker room for safekeeping and then forced to listen to the remainder of the ballgame over the radio.
Suffice it to say that Rose walked and tripled in his three remaining at bats, and scored both runs in a 2-0 Cincinnati victory.
Deep down, I'm a lot like Pete—tightly wound and lively to the core. But while he goes on playing, I'm going into retirement. I thought I'd be going to Cooperstown, but Pete's talking about giving me to his son to pay for his college education. It's nice to know I'm valuable, but like Pete, I'll always want to get back in the ball game. I know I have a few more hits left in me.