The baseball bat used by Pete Rose to break Ty Cobb’s all-time MLB hit record is heading for auction at Heritage next month.
The bat has been described as “arguably the most historically significant bat ever swung in a Major League park”, and is expected to sell for upwards of $600,000 when it goes up for sale on February 23-24.
In September 1985 Rose won the 4,192nd hit of his career, breaking the record set by the legendary Ty Cobb which had stood for 58 years.
He went on to record another 64 hits, taking his final tally to an amazing 4,256 career hits – a record which still seems almost insurmountable 30 years later.
But despite his achievements with a bat, Pete Rose remains without doubt one of the most controversial figures in MLB history.
As a player he was known as ‘Charlie Hustle’, and his stats speak for themselves. Despite having ended his playing career back in 1986, he remains the all-time MLB leader in hits (4,256), games played (3,562), at-bats (14,053), singles (3,215), and outs (10,328).
His awards included three World Series rings, two Golden Gloves, one Most Valuable Player Award and the Rookie of the Year Award, along with making 17 All-Star appearances in an unprecedented five different positions.
His most triumphant moment came on September 11, 1985, as Rose hit a single to left-center field off San Diego Padres pitcher Eric Show in front of his home crowd at the Riverfront Stadium.
The crowd roared, Rose’s Cincinnati teammates lifted him above their heads, team owner Marge Schott presented him with a new Corvette, and his son Pete Jr. joined him on the field for a hug.
For many, it was one of the greatest moments in baseball history. But four years later
In August 1989 Rose was accused of gambling on baseball games whilst playing for and managing the Reds. He denied the accusations, but following an investigation he was fired and permanently placed on baseball’s ineligible list.
He was subsequently barred from induction into the Baseball Hall of Fame, and he remains, along with Shoeless Joe Jackson, perhaps the game’s most famous player missing from the roster at Cooperstown.
Following years of denials, Rose finally admitted betting on Cincinnati Reds games in his 2004 autobiography – although he was adamant he never bet against his own team.
Thirty years on he can be found autographing memorabilia in a Las Vegas casino, surrounded by the same world of high-stakes gambling that led to his undoing.
But regardless of his fall from grace, his on-the-field legacy cannot be denied, and the bat offered at Heritage is surely the centrepiece of a record-breaking career.
“I’m one of those guys, when I’m gone, you can think about me in nine different ways,” said Rose in a 2014 interview with ESPN. “You can think about me getting all the hits. Or you can think about me going to prison or getting divorced or sliding headfirst or knocking catchers down.
“You can think of me being brash. Or you can think about me being the biggest winner in the history of sports. That’s the best record I’ve got.”