Baseball Magazine - April, 1980
Baseball Magazine's All-Decade Team
Pete Rose- Left Fielder
By Barry Wilner
Throughout the 1970s, when people went out to the ballpark for a little enjoyment, one man could be counted on to provide it. Pete Rose.
Never has a nickname been more appropriate than Rose's moniker, "Charlie Hustle." Whether running out a bases on balls, going from first to third on a single- "I do that better than anybody in baseball"- diving head-first into a base' _I do that best too"- or simply stroking base hit after base hit on his way to the National League record for career hits, Rose gives the fan every penny worth of the admission price.
He also earns every penny of his $800,000-plus salary for the Philadelphia Phillies. He draws people into the stadium, he is "Charlie Hustle" every day, he hates to sit out an inning, much less a game. The Phillies flopped in '79, but Pete Rose was anything but a disappointment.
"This is a guy who never dogs it," says Mike Schmidt. "His team might get blown out or be in fifth place but Pete keeps on going."
What makes Rose run?
"Pride, for one," says Sparky Anderson, Pete's manager with the Cincinnati Reds, for whom Pete was a star from 1963-1978. "Pete is proud of his record and always tries to play up to his past. He always does, too."
Never was the past more important to Rose than in 1978. His marvelous work for the Reds, including rookie of the year in 1963, MVP in 1973, World Series MVP in 1975, 13 years above .300, three batting titles, nine 200-hit seasons, was, Rose believed, unappreciated. He was playing out his option and doing it in style.
On June 14, he got two hits. He got at least one safety in each of the next 43 games, a 44-game hitting streak that tied the NL mark, set by Wee Willie Keeler.
"Reaching Keeler's mark meant the most to me," says Rose, 38. "I've been a National Leaguer all my life and to have that record, or at least a tie for it, is something special.
During the streak, which seemed to further enliven an already exciting baseball season, Rose lived in a fish bowl. Every move he made was examined by the media and the fans. Rose loved it.
"Pressure is nothing," he says. "I love pressure. I want to be known as someone who performed best when it was the hardest."
The hitting streak certainly was the highlight of Rose's spectacular career. He has been almost the perfect player for a manager, a true team man, an inspiration to his mates and, despite any outstanding physical skills, a standout at every position he's played.
And Rose has performed at plenty of positions. He came up as a second baseman and has played regularly at third, first and all three outfield spots. He's been an All-Star at each position.
At his present pace, Rose figures to end up the game's top all-around hitter. Only Ty Cobb, whose record for most 200-hit seasons Rose broke in '79 with his tenth, is beyond his reach and Rose says that is fitting.
"I've got this thing about Cobb," he admitted during his hitting skein. "I feel like I know him. I've read his biography, and I can identify with a lot about him."
"He was small, always the last kid picked for games and so was I. He had this intense competitive nature. He didn't think anybody could do anything better than he could. He was a real fighter, scrappy and tough."
Rose stopped and smiled, adding, "and he was one helluva hitter."
Rose could easily have been describing himself.
Baseball Magazine's All-Decade Team
Steve Carlton- Left-handed Pitcher
By Barry Wilner
If Steve Carlton was a Hollywood star, he'd be Clint Eastwood. You know, the big, brooding, silent type, the one without any noticeably outstanding skills at his craft but the kind of guy who just keeps on winning. Eastwood probably won't win any Academy Awards, but he keeps attracting the fans to the theaters. They come to see the action and Eastwood provides plenty of it.
Carlton, voted the best left-handed pitcher of the 1970s, won't win any popularity contests but he certainly wins his share of games. Like the characters Eastwood portrays, Carlton doesn't bother with verbalizing. No post-game press conferences, no television appearances. Carlton puts in his time at the office every four days and lets the world be satisfied with that.
For the strapping lefty, this formula works. It works well enough, in fact, to have won two Cy Young Awards.
Carlton's best season was 1972, a year in which he quite possibly not only was the top pitcher in baseball but the greatest- for one season- ever. Playing for the Phillies after six solid seasons with the Cardinals was nothing short of phenomenal.
At the start of 1972, his first season with Philadelphia, Carlton was faced with the prospect of hurling for one of the worst outfits in baseball. It didn't bother him at all.
"I was able to start every fourth day with the Phillies, and that helped," he said. "With the Cardinals, there were five good pitchers and Bob Gibson liked to go every fourth day. There was a lot of time between starts, sometimes five or six days."
Carlton had a history of good performances, including a 20-9 season with St. Louis in 1971. In 1969, as a fireballer who often followed Gibson in the rotation, he struck out 19 Mets in one game- and somehow managed to lose the contest.
But nothing in Carlton's past indicated he was about to embark on the kind of seasonal voyage that would make anyone from Cy Young to Walter Johnson to Bob Feller to Sandy Koufax proud.
The Phils won 59 games in 1972. Carlton won 27 of them, a starting 46 percent. His 27-10 record, a 1.98 earned run average, 41 starts, 30 complete games, 346 innings pitched and 310 strikeouts led the league. He was a unanimous choice for the Cy Young Award, then went on to capture the Hickok Belt as the professional athlete of the year.
"I thought I could win 25 games when I was traded to the Phillies," he said. "I was pleased with the way I pitched and the way the team responded for me."
Carlton wins consistently for several reasons. Although he hasn't kept the blazing fastball of his youth, he still can overpower a hitter. He picks his spots well, mixing the breaking stuff (he has a topnotch curve) to keep hitters off balance.
He also has a keen memory for what batters do against him and what each one likes to hit. And he is a fine hitter, which keeps him in many games.
It is a sign of the respect Carlton has among media members that, despite ignoring them, they still voted him the top left-hander of the decade. With such niceties bestowed upon him, perhaps Carlton will open up.