MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – It’s not often that a sports legend like former Cincinnati Reds switch hitter Pete ‘Charlie Hustle’ Rose comes to town. The all-time MLB hits leader (4,256) visited Morgantown to attend the fourth-annual West Virginia Baseball Leadoff Dinner as a special guest speaker.
Upon arrival, Rose bestowed some motivational advice to head coach Randy Mazey and his wide-eyed Mountaineers.
“You just try to relate to tell them how lucky they are to have the opportunity to play ball,” Rose said. “I asked them how many of them have dreams of being in the big leagues and most every hand went up. Now it’s just a matter of creating good habits, going about your business in the right way, working hard, being enthusiastic and helping your team win.”
Winning has always been everything in Rose’s book.
“It’s all about winning man – you know about that here at West Virginia,” he said as he continually boasted about the success of both the WVU football and basketball program. “Mountaineers got a good football team. I always enjoy ‘em. Got a good football program. Got a good basketball program. The baseball program is trying to catch fire. That’s why I’m here, to try and help kick off the 2016 season.”
According to Rose, his connection to West Virginia University came through his good friend and head WVU basketball coach Bob Huggins, who also spent a great amount of time in Ohio back in the day as head basketball coach at the University of Cincinnati.
“I’m good friends with Huggins. We had him in Cincinnati all them years then he came here (WVU) and you know his story. He’s pretty good. He got his ass beat today, but he’s pretty good,” Rose joked, referring to West Virginia’s loss on Saturday to the Florida Gators. “He (Huggins) called me up and hooked me up with the baseball coach.”
Rose played for the Cincinnati Reds from 1963-78. He also spent some time with the Philadelphia Phillies and the Montreal Expos before returning to the Reds as the team’s manager. The 17-time All-Star finished his career as one of the most dominant players in baseball history hitting 160 HR while batting in 1314 RBI’s, stealing 198 bases and averaging .303 from the plate.
Now, the ‘Hit King’ considers himself nothing more than a fan of the game he’ll always love.
“You never miss being on the field because every good thing comes to an end,” he said. “I try to get them (the Mountaineers) to understand that. You’re only gonna be able to play baseball so long. If you play it right, then long enough will be just right. I’m just a fan now, that’s all I am. Everybody I played with is retired and most of the guys that played for me are retired… Let the next guys, let the young guys takeover.”
Rose was a member of three World Series Champion teams in 1975, ’76 and ’80. Later this year (2016), his iconic No. 14 will officially be retired by the Cincinnati Reds as he enters the team’s Hall of Fame. The only other MLB player to wear that number since the year 1963 was his son, Pete Rose, Jr.
Cover image credit: foxsports.com