The Baseball Hustle Of Pete Rose

Welcome back to the Rotten Ink Ballpark, a place we will be showcasing a comic book that is based on the legend of Cincinnati’s Mr. Charlie Hustle himself, Pete Rose of Reds’ fame! Baseball is considered America’s favorite past time, and while it’s still a popular sport, it has slipped quite a bit and has never bounced back after the strike that happened in 1994-1995 when players demanded higher pay and the player pay cap, making many fans upset over the greed and the lack of games because of this strike. My dad has been a baseball fan for a long time and enjoyed listening to the games on the radio, watching them on TV, playing the sport at school and with friends as well as collecting the trading cards (that his parents would later throw in the trash – including cards that became worth lots of money).  As he got older got married to my Mom and they had my brother and me, he ended up even taking us to Red games as well as minor league teams like The Columbus Clippers and watched games on TV and even collected Topps cards alongside us. But sadly while it was a fun time bonding with my Dad, I just could not get into baseball and found the game kind of boring and things like comics, horror films and video games more interesting. One thing I will say is that while my Dad is a jock, he never has judged me for not liking sports like he does and even bought me Captain America comics and VHS as well, even horror films like Hellraiser III, when I was a youth. As I’ve gotten older, my Dad and I watch MMA, boxing and NFL Super Bowl together and have a great time. But back to baseball – when I was a kid, my favorite players were Eric Davis and Barry Larkin, and I can remember trading baseball cards with my neighbor Kelly who was a very cool and sweet person, and going to Bills Baseball Den in Waynesville and Bookie Parlor in Kettering to get cards and packs. It’s odd to think that while I barely watched the game, I still spent time and effort collecting cards for sport stars that I knew very little about, but I think that was part of the MLB magic, that it was able to make a strange monster kid like myself want to buy trading cards.  Plus I think it came down to trying to fit in with friends and having a good time opening packs with my dad, mom and brother at the kitchen table. This update is for my Dad and friends like Josh Weinberg, Nick Wiget and all the others who love this classic sport and respect all that Pete Rose has done for it. This update will be about Pete Rose, baseball and my ties to this game.  So get your ball glove ready and your cap on because we are here till the bottom of the 9th and we are ready to hit a Rotten Ink home-run!

Pete Rose Card 1Pete Rose Card 2Pete Rose Card 3

To talk about Pete Rose we must first talk about The Cincinnati Reds, and I am going to do my best to get the facts right and give that ball team the respect it deserves in a quick yet fun manner, so here’s a crash course on the history of the Reds! In 1869 a baseball team called the Cincinnati Red Stockings was the team that would morph into the Reds and did so in 1881 and became a American Association team in 1882.  In 1890, they joined the National League and became a true pro baseball team. The team has won five World Series in the years 1919, 1940, 1975, 1976 and 1990 and have played in many home town ballparks like Crosley Field, Riverfront Stadium and Great America Ball Park they currently call home. In 1970-1976 under the manager George “Sparky” Anderson, the team went under the nickname The Big Red Machine and had lots of big name ballplayers on the team the included Pete Rose, Johnny Bench, Tony Perez, Joe Morgan, Tom Seaver and Lee May to name a few.  The team won two World Series and it became one of the biggest most popular times for the team in it’s rich history. Another big time for the Reds was in 1990 when they went wire to wire and won the World Series with players like Barry Larkin, Eric Davis, Chris Sabo, Paul O’Neill and the pitching team nicknamed “The Nasty Boys” who were Rob Dibble, Norman Charlton and Randy Myers.  This team was managed by Lou Piniella. The Reds are still going strong in 2015, and while they have made it to the play-offs many times over the past few years, they have not been able to make it to the World Series, but if you ask guys like Josh Weinberg they will tell you that this year is the year they will take it all and if not, the next year or maybe the next year…yeah, you get the point.  Fans of the Reds are very loyal and have tons of respect for their team even if they do lose. So while this team has such a rich and amazing history, this tiny write up is just some of the highlights.  If you want to learn more about The Reds, check out the team’s Wikipedia or read a book based on the ball club. I should also note that the team’s mascot is Mr. Redlegs who is a baseball headed ball player.  For most of his time on the team Mr. Redlegs rocked a mustache, but when I was younger he had none and was a pretty popular mascot at school in Waynesville. Over all while I might not be a big watcher of sports, I can still respect and cheer for our home state teams and hope that sometime very soon The Reds once more become champs!

Mr Redlegs 1Reds LogoMr Redlegs 2

I am by no means an athlete.  When I was younger, I was okay at playing football and basketball, but I could have been the worst of the worst when it came to neighborhood baseball and could have had the worst batting average among my friends! One summer my dad bought us a wiffleball bat and ball.  We would play in the backyard, and it would almost always be me and my brother against our parents in a battle of home-runs hit over the roof of the house; we lost almost all the games. In the neighborhood, we would play baseball at Brad Burns’ or Mike Cessna’s house, and I can remember that being a lot of fun as all the kids from around would come and play, and even Mike’s dog Barney would join in on the fun! At my grandparents’ house I would play ball with my brother Bryan and cousins Nathan, Stephen and Tony.  While some times this was pitching, most of the time it was T-Ball. In school, we played baseball in gym, and I can remember one time we where playing outside and I so wanted to impress the girl I had a crush on my whole tenure in Waynesville and was hit in the head with softball from a pitch thrown by Ryan “The Bull” Jones.  The impact made me blackout for a second and I fell to one knee, but I was lucky and was able to shake it off! I should have probably gone to the nurse after it, and for months after I had massive headaches that would come and go, but that didn’t bother me as much as the fact I looked foolish in front of her! So as you can see my baseball “career” was very lame and filled with defeat and heartbreak!

Wiffle Bat and Ball

So at this time I think I am going to ask one of my best friends and one of the biggest Reds fans I know, Josh Weinberg, 5 questions about his love and respect for the Reds. I have known Josh for so many years now and from the first day I met him, he has always worn Cincinnati Reds and Bengals shirts, hats and jerseys as well as Ohio State gear so when writing about Pete Rose I knew I had to have my pal involved. I mean he is the guy who bought VHS tapes from a Goodwill Outlet that had the Reds winning the 1990 World Series.  So here we go, 5 Questions with Josh Weinberg!

Josh Weinberg Reds Fan

Me:  Welcome back, Josh, to Rotten Ink.  You are a legend among my friends I write about here on my slice of the web.  So how long have you been a Cincinnati Reds fan?

Josh: I have been a Reds fan since 1990, the year that they swept the Oakland A’s in the World Series. Ever since then I was hooked. I remember being at my dad’s shop listening to the games.

Me: Always cool to hear how sports brought families together.  Who are your 4 top favorite players for the Reds of all time?

Josh: My top 4 Reds players of all time are simple number 1.) Barry Larkin 2.) Chris Sabo 3.) Jose Rio and (4 Sean Casey.

Me: Barry Larkin and Eric Davis would be two of my favorites too.  Did you every play baseball for school or Little League? If not, have you ever thought about it?

Josh: I played little league growing up as well as umpiring for kids’ leagues. I had to stop because I could not keep up my grades.  Such is life.

Me: Those pesky grades and school standing in your way of being a baseball legend! So how many Reds games have you been to in your lifetime thus far?

Josh: I have probably been to between 20 and 30 games in my lifetime. With many more to come.  My ultimate is going to opening day.

Me: That’s way more games then I have been to.  If I am lucky, I think I have been to 4 or 5.  Last question for you Josh, should Pete Rose be in the Baseball Hall Of Fame, and why or why not?

Josh: Pete Rose should be in the Hall of Fame for one single reason: the hall is about what you did on the field not what you did off the field. He is the hit king, Charley Hustle, and deserves to be in the hall. There are plenty of things other players have done back in the day and are in now. If he had not lied about it, he would be in.

Me: I agree Pete should be in for all he has done for the sport! Thanks Josh! Do you have any closing words for the Rotten Ink readers and fans of the Reds?

Josh: Last thing I have to say is Go Reds! One of these days they will win it all again…hopefully before I die!

While I don’t think they will do much this 2015 season, sometime soon I am sure the Reds will rise to be champs again!

Reds Bumper Sticker

Pete Rose has also been involved in another sport, Pro Wrestling, where he had a feud with the Big Red Machine Kane that spanned a few WWE WrestleMania’s as well as earned Rose a spot in the WWE Hall of Fame! Pete Rose at WrestleMania XIV was the guest ring announcer for a match between The Undertaker and Kane and for some reason became the target of Kane who gave the ball player a tombstone pile driver before the match even started. The following year at WrestleMania XV, Pete Rose wanted revenge on Kane and dressed as the San Diego Chicken to attack the wrestler from behind.  This did not work as once more Rose was knocked out with a tombstone pile driver, and Kane went on to wrestle his match against Triple H. At WrestleMania 2000, Pete Rose once more tried to get the upper hand on Kane and after his tag match against DX, Rose tried to hit Kane with a baseball bat but was choked slammed! After this, Rose did a commercial for WWE No Mercy PPV and was inducted into the WWE Hall Of Fame by Kane in 2004. Pete Rose in 2010 was a guest host of Monday Night Raw and set a match between Kane and Shawn Michaels, after Kane lost he once more attacked the aging ball player. After this appearance, Rose has been mentioned on air as well as did an interview for WWE.COM on Kane’s attacks on him. While Pete Rose never wrestled a match for WWE, during his appearance he made some great moments in wrestling and it was nice to see a baseball player of his caliber not take himself too seriously.

WWE Kane and Pete Rose

So from the ball field to the wrestling ring, Pete Rose has proven time and time again that the man is a legend and is a very interesting person who has worked for his fame the hard way by given 110% every time. He has also proven that he is a marketing machine as his image has graced the likes of RC Cola cans, collector drinking glasses even one from Gold Star Chili, action figures from the Starting Line-Up a series made by Kenner & Hasbro, comic books, trading cards, collector coins, video game for Atari 2600/7800, TV Commercials, t-shirts among many other products and goods! The ones I remember the most are the video game for Atari 2600 that was a solid cheesy baseball game and the Starting Line Up figures that looked nothing like him and had very little articulation. But if you were a Rose fan, the world is filled with enough collector items to keep you very happy!

Pete Rose Drinking GlassPete Rose Starting LineupRC Cola Pete Rose

As I have stated before, I am a Monster Guy who loves comic books and this year (2015) I have gone through a stage where I am reading lots of 70’s, 80’s and early 90’s Spider-Man comics.  I am talking Amazing, Spectacular and Web Of and have gotten issues all over from Mavericks all the way to Lone Star Comics and many of the issues are coming bag and boarded to protect and keep the issue safe. Well one of the WORST places that bag and board their issues has to be Half Price Books as they clearly use the cheapest bags and boards and some of the worst tape in comic collecting history! When trying to open your comic the tape sticks to the plastic bag and rips holes in the bag and can even bend your comic as you try to get it open.  This has caused many annoying late night readings of Spidey and lots of curses toward these cheap bags. Also when writing this update, I was listening to Billy Idol’s 2014 release “Kings & Queens Of The Underground.”  It’s a pretty solid album.  While it’s by no means a classic, I still am glad that Billy is making music as he has been one of my favorite music artists sense I was a kid alongside Alice Cooper, Motley Cure, W.A.S.P. and Cinderella. In fact one of the best birthday presents in my adult life that I ever got was from Juliet as she got us close seats to Billy Idol at Fraze Pavilion in Kettering in 2010! The best tracks off this CD are the title track Kings & Queens Of The Underground and Eyes Wide Shut. The odd part about this disc is that almost all of the songs are ballads and not the fist pumping tracks one would expect from Billy Idol. So a special thanks goes to Marvel Comics for Spider-Man and Billy Idol for helping me while writing this update. I should also thank The Angry Video Game Nerd as I had episodes playing on the TV while I wrote and Billy Idol’s CD was done.  So I think it would be safe to say that Idol and AVGN acted as the soundtrack to this update and Spider-Man entertained my mind before I went to bed almost every night.

Billy Idol cd and Spiderman Comics

It’s Masstar Comics turn at bat, and I can’t wait to see what this bio Comic is like. I am wondering what direction they will take with his suspension from the sport and what kind of stories off the field they will share. I have never heard of Masstar Comics, and this will be my first read for one of their comics so this should be interesting. I want to thank a vendor at Peddlers’ Mall for having this comic at their booth as well as thank Jason Young for taking me there to look around. Oddly during our time at the Peddlers’ Mall, Jason and I found lots of Pete Rose merchandise and after that Mavericks even ended up putting out boxes of Rose’s ball cards, making me think that it was my calling to do this update. I should also remind you that I grade these issues on a star scale of 1 to 4 and am looking for how well the comic stays to the source material, it’s entertainment value and it’s art and story. So let’s see if Masstar can slide into homebase as they team up with Pete Rose and Rotten Ink to bring you this fun read at the ballpark, oh and um can I get some peanuts and a hotdog…and maybe one of those foam oversized hats?

Pete Rose 1

Pete Rose  # 1   **1/2
Released in 1992     Cover Price $2.50     Masstar Comic     # 1 of 1

Pete Rose or Pee Wee as his father called him was a young man who grew up in Ohio and was a fan of sports with baseball being his passion with football coming in second. His mother and father encouraged him to try harder at everything he did and thanks to his Uncle who was a baseball talent scout he was able to get a tryout for the Cincinnati Reds in 1960 by being put into the minor leagues and he once more busted his butt in order to impress the scouts and to get better at the game he loved. As he became better and better he finally catches the eye of Reds couch Freddie Hutchinson who hires him as second base man and allows him to prove that he has heart, but this upsets the older players who act as if Pete is not even alive and his only friends on the team are Frank Robinson and Vada Pinson who as well were ignored by teammates cause the color of their skin. Rose was not a super star from the start but season after season he became better and better and even turned up the intensity in the way he played and would go on to win the MVP Award for the year 1973 and in 1975 and 1976 he helped lead them to World Series wins. In 1979 Pete Rose turned down a contract from The Reds and took one from the Philadelphia Phillies and had some solid good seasons with them. Rose returned to The Reds in 1984 after a short time with the Montreal Expos and back with the Reds he broke hitting records and even became the teams Manager. While things looked great for Rose in 1989 it all came crashing down as he was accused of illegally betting on baseball games and the MLB Commissioner banished him from the game he loved.

Pete Rose is a ball player that is beloved by fans and has a mixed reaction from players and higher ups within the MLB all for his gambling issue. But this comic does a great job of making Rose a likable underdog who proved that hard work and support from your loved ones can make you a superstar of whatever your profession is. This bio comic follows Pete Rose from a youngster playing ball with his friends all the way to playing for the Reds coaching them and being banned from the game that he loves. The plus side to this comic is that the story is very fast paced and highlights all the major events in his life without dragging along, but the downside is the fact most major events are done in a couple of panels and don’t show much of his friendships nor rivalries with his fellow Reds and that’s a letdown. It was interesting to see why Rose left the Reds to play for Philadelphia and even more so how when he first joined the team all the older players didn’t like him so they ignored him and treated him like he was a ghost. The comic ends with Rose being suspended from baseball and leaves it making it look like he never bet on baseball when in fact he did and lied about it for years. The cover is pretty eye catching and shows Rose through the years as the art inside is pretty well done and makes Rose look like he should and is done by John Tartaglione who you can tell had fun drawing this comic. Over all this was a fun Unauthorized Bio comic on an iconic baseball player and was well worth the read and purchase. Check out the art below done by Tartaglione.

Pete Rose Art 1

We made it to home base and scored the winning point thanks to Pete Rose and Masstar Comics, and along the way I found a new respect for baseball and now understand the appeal it has for all its fans, as it’s a sport that is filled with a rich history and gives people pride in their favorite team and something to talk about around the water cooler at work. While I may or may not ever go see a Reds game again at the stadium I still have the good memories of going to them with my Dad, brother Bryan and my dad’s best friend John in my youth. Well our next update is going to take us out of the ball field and into the world of self-defense as I am going to take a look at an Atlas Comic based around the secret world of the martial arts called The Hands Of The Dragon! So make sure to come back for that one but until then enjoy the summer and read a comic or three.

Hands Of The Dragon Logo

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