Cieradkowski: Pete Rose, the man in the gasoline suit

From SABR member Gary Cieradkowski at The Infinite Baseball Card Set on October 27, 2015:

Whitey Ford slumped in the shade of the dugout, fanning himself against the humidity with a scorecard. Out in the hot Florida sun his Yankees were playing the Cincinnati Reds in one of the last spring training games before the 1963 season would start. With the exception of a few key stars that the fans expected to see, both clubs allowed their regulars to rest before the long season began. Most of the guys on the field were Scrubini’s – scrubs – guys trying to impress the scouts before they were tossed back to minors, most never to be seen again. The only thing that stirred the Yankee ace from his comfortable spot was when that gap-toothed Reds rookie came to bat.

Ford had saw the kid jawing with the Reds veterans Frank Robinson and Vida Pinson in batting practice and didn’t like the ease in which he seemed to carry himself. No scrub should act like that and it stuck in Ford’s craw all afternoon. It made him even angrier when the kid, who wore number 27 and was playing left field that day, chased a Mickey Mantle home run all the way to the wall and then made a point of climbing the fence in pursuit like a lemur, even though The Mick hit it 20 feet over his head. The kid was a showboat.

Now as that same kid trotted up to the plate Ford unfolded his scorecard and looked for his name. “27 Rose, Peter”. The Yankee ace thought to himself that the name sounded like a loan shark or one half of a third-rate nightclub act, not a ball player. When Ford looked back to the plate he saw the kid had run up the count to three balls, one strike. When the next pitch came in a little low and away the rookie threw his bat towards the dugout and didn’t jog but ran full on to first base. Like he was beating out a bunt or something. Who the heck did he think he was? Climbing a wall in vain might impress the local yokel Florida fans, but now he’s just trying to show up the Yankee pitching. Ford tossed the scorecard down and stepped up to the top of the dugout and hollered loud enough so his pal Mickey could hear it in center field: “Hey! Look at Charlie Hustle!”

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Originally published: October 28, 2015. Last Updated: October 28, 2015.