Friday, October 3, 2008


HUSTLE: THE MYTH, LIFE, AND LIES OF PETE ROSE by Michael Y. Sokolove was read for the In Their Shoes Challenge.

From the back of the book:

For months Pete Rose's name was everywhere. His story was played out on the evening news and in banner headlines across the country. There were details about his sleazy associates, him gambling, and his legal battles. But what was missed, what nobody adequately answered was, Who was Pete Rose? and How could this have happened?

HUSTLE answers these questions by showing us the real Pete Rose. It cuts through the myths surrounding Charlie Hustle and explains how Rose could be both the All-American kid who got the most out of his talent and the bloated ex-athlete who broke baseball's one absolute taboo. Based on interviews with Rose's teammates, team owners, sportswriters, police, investigators, even members of Rose's own family, HUSTLE tells the full story of how a man who made himself an American hero ended up on American tragedy.

Let me preface this by telling you a little about me and baseball. My father once played semi-pro ball and knew all about the game, teaching me and passing his love of the game on to me. Daddy knew the owners of the Philadelphia Phillies and we always had first-base seats waiting for us. Spring and summer meant one thing in our house - baseball.

We lived in Cincinnati at the height of the "Big Red Machine" when the Cincinnati Reds, led by Johnny Bench, Joe Morgan, and Pete Rose, were the ultimate baseball team. Pete was known as Charlie Hustle because of his approach to the game - give it all you have all the time.

But Pete Rose had problems. He was a gambler and surrounded himself with unsavory characters. He bet on the horses, football and basketball - and baseball itself.

This book tells all about Pete Rose - the good and the bad. Was he a good - great - baseball player? Absolutely. He played hard and gave his all. Was he a team player? No, he played for himself and the record books. Did he have problems? Most definitely. Did he know the rules about gambling? Of course he did. Did he care? No, he thought he was above the rules and could do whatever he wanted. And baseball officials fed into this by not holding him accountable when they had a good idea of what was happening.

I always felt that Pete Rose was an arrogant S.O.B. This book does nothing to change my opinion of him; in fact it greatly affirms my feelings. He might have been a good player but he wasn't a nice person.

Pete Rose finally admitted that he bet on baseball - on his own team. And he feels he should be reinstated into baseball (he was given a lifetime ban) and admitted to the Hall of Fame.

"I bet on my team every night. I didn't bet on my team 4 nights a week."

"I bet on my team to win every night because I love my team, I believe in my team. I did everything in my power every night to win that game."

Rose thinks he should be reinstated because "I'm the best ambassador baseball has."

(From an interview on the Dan Patrick ESPN radio show March 2007)

I really enjoyed this book. Mr. Sokolove knows baseball and admires Pete Rose for his accomplishments on the baseball field. Yet he pulled no punches, and wrote an honest appraisal of Pete Rose the man.

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