The Hit King featured in his own movie …


   I shouldn’t need to start this out by noting that I think Pete Rose should be in the Hall of Fame, since I’ve blathered on and on about that for quite a few years. But there it is anyway … on the record, so to speak.
   I mention this because there’s a new movie about Pete’s career exploits being premiered this week – “4192: The Crowning of the Hit King.”
   (Pete Rose artwork by Arthur K. Miller,

Fair enough. It’s the brainchild of a Covington, Ky.-based production company called Barking Fish Entertainment, which reportedly wanted to accentuate the positive when it came to telling the unique story of the banished former ballplayer and manager. Again, I don’t necessarily have a problem with that as far as it goes.
   But I am wondering just how far that might be. One of the news reports that I read stated unequivocally that there was not just a downplaying of the negative there was no negative to be found. If true, Ouch!
   According to a website called, the documentary “never mentions gambling, corked bats, his use of amphetamines or other controversies that surrounded Rose after his playing career ended.”
   I like going out on a limb from time to time, so let me just say that I don’t believe it. I don’t believe that a purported documentary about a figure of national prominence could completely ignore such a vital element of the story. The parallels are obvious and plentiful.
   President Nixon visits the Great Wall of China and opens relations between West and East and then fade to black, the curtain falls and roll credits? Or to make it more direct, Joe Jackson bats .375 in the 1919 World Series, plays one more season and then hangs up his spikes at age 31 after managing to bat .382 in his final campaign?
   The more obvious example would be O.J. Simpson, but I wouldn’t want to equate Pete’s transgressions with what Simpson did. And that may be the biggest point in his favor.
   Pete Rose didn’t murder anybody. I know there are good and honorable people who truly believe that his continued banishment from the game is appropriate and just, but I would simply take another tack.
   He has been banished from the game he loved for more than two decades, denied the opportunity to make a living on the very ball fields where he performed with such unrelenting distinction for a quarter century. Can’t we make a case that the punishment has been more than adequate?
   And for those purists who think it’s just fine the way it is – the permanent ineligibility now means only his Hall of Fame exclusion, since getting rehired in baseball is probably moot – I would ask one question.
   How are we going to reconcile our continued thumping of Pete Rose with our eventual acceptance of the steroid crowd? To exclude nearly a whole generation of baseball’s greatest players from the Hall of Fame is simply something that’s not going to happen. We may spank them for a while, and maybe even a lot longer than I might suppose, but eventually they are going to end up in Cooperstown.
   And if/when they do, their plaques will presumably mention steroids, just as a hypothetical Pete Rose plaque would have to mention gambling and “permanent ineligibility” in some fashion.
   You can’t just close your eyes and pretend that it never happened. If you’re going to do that, you may just as well get your little cartons of chocolate milk and a box of cookies and wrap yourself in your blanket as you sit cross-legged on the floor.


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3 thoughts on “The Hit King featured in his own movie …

  1. John on said:

    Enjoyed your ariticle and want to agree with you, but your basic premise is flawed.
    He’s not in the Hall not because of his transgressions, but because of his inability to admit doing any of them.
    His massive character flaws are the only thing he owns larger than his hit numbers. Not being able to admit, even when caught red-handed, that he not only gambled, but gambled on his own team, is no reason to put someone in a place that honors the greatest. His apologists continue to feed his massive ego and prevent this coward from realizing what he is.
    To put him in the Hall solely for his numbers, as great as they are, after breaking the most vital law that sports requires of its participants, shouldn’t be allowed by a group that claim to require high standards.

  2. As the Director of "4192: The Crowning of the Hit King", I want to clarify a few things about the film. First, I do enjoy your blog and am happy to see Pete Rose fans like yourself reminding the haters how great a player the man was! Now understand that this film is not about putting him in the Hall-of-fame or "glossing" over anything. It is THE most comprehensive documentary on the man’s playing career ending on the night of the ‘Hit". This year being the 25th Anniversary of that historical achievement it seemed to me to be ridiculous for MLB to simply ignore it. Second, I am very much bothered by the website you quoted about the content of the documentary. I can tell you that they have NOT seen the film and simply picked up a segment from a local review, as others have done. That reviewer is not a critic and is one who thoroughly enjoys controversy and dabbling in tabloid fare. I gave him a private screening of the film and this was his email response" Terry: Spent 2-5 pm there. Very nice film. You should be very proud. Was pleasantly suprised to see all the game video, know that MLB isn’t cheap. I might have questions tomorrow, gotta digest it. –Kiese" You see, he loved it, but chose to write what the film wasn’t about and then every other jack off out there looking to pump numbers through controversy and negativity picks it up and runs it – WTF? Second, one would think the title of the film would be telling as to what to expect, yet folks like yourself so hungry to hear more about a subject already beaten to death, ignore it and then complain that it was flawed or misleading. Please watch the film, as the other ignorant jump-to-conclusions idiots should do BEFORE critiquing ANYTHING and spewing a bunch of garbage about what the film "isn’t" about. It will far exceed your expectations, I promise! And let’s be fair, ESPN’s "Hu$tle" covered nothing BUT the gambling- Again, WTF?!! I simply chose to cover 22 years AND his childhood and end on one of the greatest moments in sports history. Your analogies are weak and do not apply here. What about Michael Mann ending "Ali" after the Rumble in the Jungle? "Rudy" not showing what happened after the game? There are many ways in which any story can be told and this is the perspective I felt was needed to "balance" the lop-sided equation of the loud haters who dismiss what he did on the field with the horrible judgement he had while managing. And seriously, what would be the point in ending it on a negative note AND with the story still not really resolved. This film is about a Father and Son. It is about Work Ethic. It is about Winning. I believe there is still another chapter in the Pete Rose saga and I may follow up "4192" with the film you seem to want. If you need your gambling fix so bad, I would suggest renting "Hu$tle" as the sequel to my film. Understand though, there’s NOTHING NEW to talk about. Get over it, 21 years is enough!!

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