MT. KISCO, NY – Recently, we attended an event for Pat Quinn, a rugby player stricken with Lou Gehrig’s Disease not long after his 30th birthday. Simply put, Pat is a hero. Despite things like shaking hands being a challenge, he is battling this despicable affliction with a courage we can’t can’t fathom, aided by the unwavering support of his family, friends and rugby community, specifically Iona College Rugby and the White Plain RFC. And because rugby is like Scientology with its tentacles everywhere (we were there with the New York Rugby contingent), the networking octopus that is the affable Pete Kelly, got the Hit King himself, Pete Rose, to come to the Quinn For The Win, fund-raiser… for free. And Rose stayed for 4+ hours, letting folks grab photos, get autographs, gave Pat his phone number to go for dinner and told him to call him anytime. (We eavesdropped to hear that).
Also showing up was a guy that knows a little bit about uphill battles, Rudy Ruettiger.
But as the above clip demonstrates, this was not a night to hang your heads – that’s not Pat’s style. And hell, we had the ear of Peter Rose, for… Pete’s sake. So, with the blessing and intro from our Pete – the one from the Kelly clan, we talked baseball with Lord Charles Hustle. Here’s how it went (somewhat paraphrased by pretty much verbatim):
MTM: What do you think of pitch counts?
ROSE: Don’t like ’em. Guys can throw at least 120 pitches. That’s nuthin’. You don’t want a guy telling you he’s tired or doesn’t have it. [Guys like Juan] Marichal had 244 complete games [197 in his 1st 10 years]. Complete games! Used to be you’d have to kill a guy to get him to come out. Managers need to know before they get to the mound what they are doing. You don’t let a guy talk you out of yanking him. All pitchers will tell you they want to stay in. At least they should. You want that.
[NOTE: We think he said Marichal in the context that the guy threw a ton of pitches, as opposed to others that have completed more games].
MTM: How about the move to speed up the game?
ROSE: Don’t like it. Why? [Looks at 10 year-old kid]. Who’s your team, the Mets? [Kid shakes his head]. Who the Yankees? [Kid nods. Pete nods, looks back at us]. Okay, so that kid goes to a game on Thursday and it’s 2 hours long and the Yanks lose 1-0. Then he goes on Friday and they win 15-2 in 3 1/2 hours. Which one you think makes him happy? The win. He doesn’t give a [bleep] about how long it is. You go to the park. You’re not in a rush.
MTM: Toughest pitcher you ever faced?
ROSE: [Without hesitation] Sandy Kofax. In ’65 He had 382 strikeouts… Last year, the guy with the most strikeout had two hundred something. That 38 was in one year! I hit .169 against him.
MTM: How about a righty?
ROSE: [Pause. Thought. Confident grin. Shake of the head].
MTM: Nobody?! How about Bob Gibson? He was tough, no?
ROSE: [Matter-of-factly confident] I hit .307 off him.
MTM: Who was the best player you played against?
ROSE: [Pause] I played against some great ones.
MTM: Who Who was the best?
ROSE: Can’t really pick one but I played against Stan Musial, Aaron, Mays… All great.
MTM: Your favorite player?
ROSE: [Pause] Ever?
MTM: Yeah, ever.
ROSE: That’s a tough one.
MTM: Okay, then how about one player, other than you, that you’d build your team around. You’re number 1 pick.
ROSE: When? All-time or now?
ROSE: I’m picking one guy to build around?
MTM: Yep. Other than you.
ROSE: [No hesitation, whatsoever] Babe Ruth.
MTM: Ruth? Really? No question about it?
ROSE: [With a ‘you dummy’ look] No. He was the best.
MTM: Did you ever meet The Babe?
ROSE: No. He died in ’49 and I came up in ’63.
And with that we thanked him and left him to the others queued up to get a picture or a photo.
When he was leaving a couple of hours later we realized we hadn’t gotten a picture with him. His assistant was waving off requests, with a “No, no, no! We have to go!” Pete turned and looked our way. “Pete, a quick picture?” Again his assistant did the “No!” thing – and rightfully so; they’d been more than gracious. But Rose looked at her and said, “It’s just one picture,” and gave us the nod. I handed the fiancée the Galaxy S5 (the replacement for the one left in the cab), put my arm around Peter Edward Rose, Sr. and said quietly to him, “Delayed flash.” He quietly replied with, “Okay.” And voila, here’s the result.
So, on a frigid February night in Mount Kisco, we got to hang with three Hall of Famers – Pete Rose, Pete Kelly and… Pat Quinn. Please click here to help the latter in his challenge, Quinn For The Win… and come back tomorrow for another man that knows about battles most of us would crumble under, Cheesy Bruin.