- TOP PLAYERSOffensePABLO S. TORRE | August 20, 2012
- TAMPA BAY buccaneersENEMY lines WHAT A RIVAL COACH SAYSJune 28, 2012
- Faces in the CrowdJune 11, 2001
At 11:45, Rose went home with his new wife, Carol, to watch the Royals-Rangers on cable.
How Rose came to be Cincinnati's manager-player—the Reds insist on that usage, rather than player-manager—is a case of serendipity. He injured his throwing elbow on May 18, so the Expos could no longer use him in leftfield. Montreal, struggling offensively, concluded it needed a first baseman with some power, and on July 26 it traded for the Reds' Dan Driessen. Rose speed-read the writing on the wall and asked his agent, Reuven Katz, to cast about for a contender that could use his bat, even if that should take him to the American League.
On Aug. 5, after a day game with the Dodgers, Katz and Bob Howsam, the president of the Reds, happened to meet at a wedding reception for Reds pitcher Jeff Russell and his bride, the former Melanie Pereira, and the trade winds began to blow. The next week John McHale, the president of the Expos, called Howsam and asked if he'd be interested in trading for Rose. Howsam said he might and called Katz to ask to have Rose call him. Rose did, and they talked for an hour and a half. "He told me he'd asked his friends if they honestly thought he could still hit, and they'd told him he could," Howsam says. "He asked me, and I said I thought he could. And he also convinced me he could do a better job of evaluating talent on the field." As Rose himself says, "Any scout with a gun can tell you a guy throws 92 miles an hour. I can tell you if his ball moves or not."
The deal was set in motion, and last Wednesday at baseball's annual summer meeting, in Philadelphia, McHale and Howsam reached an agreement: Rose to the Reds for minor league infielder Tom Lawless. Howsam set up an elaborate scheme to keep the news secret until he could inform departing manager Vera Rapp and introduce Rose at a surprise press conference on Thursday. But word had leaked out Wednesday afternoon, and the embarrassed Howsam had to call Rapp in St. Louis that night to tell him after the press had already let him know he was no longer the manager.
The Cincinnati Enquirer ran a page one headline, PETE COMES HOME, in type size normally reserved for presidential resignations. All of Cincinnati perked up in the summer heat, and PETE'S BACK! T shirts were hurried into stores. At a press conference held on the Riverfront infield, Rose gave a bravura performance, coolly answering questions while dressed in a Reds warmup jacket in the 105° heat. "This jacket says 'Cincinnati' on it, not 'Rose,' " he said. "I have to get it across to the players that they aren't playing for Rose, they're playing for this city."
What kind of manager will Rose be? "Aggressive. He'll manage the way he plays," says George Scherger, the coach who'll be Rose's right-hand man. In just three games under Pete, the Reds took on a new character, running with abandon.
"I think we're going to have some fun," says Parker, another Red who grew up in Cincinnati. One of the first things Rose did was put the television back in the players' lounge. "I plan to be in there with them, watching the Game of the Week," he says.
Rose will probably never have a doghouse. "I have a hard time staying mad at people," he says. "Baseball is no place to hold a grudge. We're with each other so often that to walk around and not talk to somebody is no good. Besides, I can't be me and be mad at the same time."
How much player is left in Rose? With the Expos, he was getting by: 65 hits in 66 starts, 7 for 24 as a pinch hitter. But of his 72 hits, only eight were for extra bases, and his average lefthanded, .280, was 75 points higher than his average righthanded. "I can do the same things I did 10 years ago," says Rose. "I just can't do them every day." But putting on a Reds uniform again could give him enough of a charge to overtake Cobb. "I think it'll be easier for Pete now," says Howsam. "He'll have no time limit."
Rose's toughest task won't be running the game—Scherger will help him do that. It will be separating the player from the manager. "I still consider myself a player," he says, much in the manner of Peter Pan singing, I Won't Grow Up.