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August 16, 2010
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August 16, 2010

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EXCERPT | August 19, 1985

The Big Knock

Pete Rose closed in on Ty Cobb's career hit record

In the summer of 1985 Pete Rose, the Reds' 44-year-old player-manager, was 21 hits from breaking Ty Cobb's career record and fully enjoying the media attention surrounding the chase. Rick Reilly reported for SI.

Time was when Rose would sleep till noon, have breakfast and get to the ballpark by one, but these are the days of The Big Knock (a "knock," in Rose lingo, being a hit, and The Big Knock, No. 4,192), and there's much too much to be done. So here is Rose, resplendent in his maroon bathrobe, Prince Valiant haircut and legs that Reds rightfielder Dave Parker describes as "vanilla milk shakes."

Last night Rose went to bed at 2:30, was up at 5, retired again at 6 and is up again. This is what's known as sleeping like a baby. Rose should know. He has one—10-month-old Tyler Edward Rose, who is named in honor of The Big Knock. Rose says everything he has comes from baseball, so it's fitting he offer up his offspring.

These are remarkable days. Knock talk has gone beyond sports into real life. In the last two months Rose has glibbed it up for LIFE, TIME, PEOPLE, Newsweek, U.S. News & World Report, Boys' Life, just about every network morning and evening news show, newspapers of all shapes and sizes and even Face the Nation. Face the Nation? Cobb just did a 360 in his grave. In Anaheim, Rod Carew, in search of 3,000, wasn't doing interviews. In Chicago, Tom Seaver, stalking 300, pulled a little Garbo. But the Reds' player-manager makes like Pia Zadora for every mike. It has hurt his hitting, but Rose says it's part of the job. Besides, who is better on Rose than Rose?

Rose broke Cobb's record on Sept. 11, 1985, against the Padres. He retired a year later with 4,256 hits—still the record.

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