Pete Rose may be a lot of things, but lazy isn’t one of them—as two equally great New York Yankees were quick to attest.
Interviewed on BEST Business Radio, the former Cincinnati Reds star recalls how he got dubbed “Charlie Hustle.”
“The name was given to me when I was trying out for the Reds in spring training in 1963,” he tells host Doug Huggins.
“We played the New York Yankees in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla. And I did a couple of things in that game and Mickey Mantle and Whitey Ford were talking to the New York press after the game and Mickey said to Whitey—or Whitey said to Mickey—‘Did you see that? Charlie Hustle beat us today!’
“And the next day in the New York paper it said, ‘Charlie Hustle Beats Yanks.’ My name was created at that time. And about three weeks later I ended up makin’ the Reds for the first time.”
Pete, who holds the all-time record—among many others—for most career hits (4,256), also discusses how he thrived on the field despite having few ostensible abilities.
“I didn’t have the grace and the speed of a Willie Mays, or I didn’t have the power of a Henry Aaron. I didn’t have the gallop like Joe DiMaggio,” he says.
“But one thing I did have, I always had hand-eye coordination. And I always had excitement in my body. And I had an enthusiasm.
“So throughout my career, I worked my opposition. And I continuously do that today, because there’s not a lazy bone in my body and I’ll grind the person I’m playing against and that seems the way to get the job done.
“There’s too many guys today—and when I played—who just go through the motions. And, to be honest, they didn’t have a chance when they played against me. Because I was gonna grind them up. I was a grinder.
“I went to work every day—if you want to call playing baseball work—and I always put the fans first. I never intended and I never did cheat the fans,” he ads.
Pete was permanently banned from Major League Baseball in 1989 amid allegations (which he later admitted to) that he gambled on games.
But at least one famous figure believes The Hit King should be inducted into baseball’s Hall of Fame.
At last week’s TV press tour in Beverly Hills, Calif., filmmaker Ken Burns—who was in town pitching The Tenth Inning, a four-hour follow-up to his 1994 PBS documentary Baseball—said of Pete:
“Vote him in after he’s dead. He deserves to be in the Hall of Fame, but he doesn’t deserve to know he’s in.”
Click here to hear Pete Rose’s full interview.