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April 10, 2017

Phillies to induct MLB hits leader Pete Rose to Wall of Fame in August

Major League Baseball's all-time hits leader, Pete Rose, who was a key part of the 1980 World Series championship team, has been selected as the 39th inductee into the Phillies Wall of Fame, the team announced on Monday. He will be honored in an on-field ceremony prior to the team's August 12 game against the Mets. 

“I am very honored to be inducted into the Phillies Wall of Fame. My baseball years in Philadelphia were amazing, not just because we won it all in 1980 and came close in 1983, but also because the fans welcomed me from day one,” Rose, a four-time All-Star with the Phillies, said in a statement. “The team’s great ownership and talented roster attracted me to Philadelphia as a free agent. I knew we could experience great success.”

Rose's stats – including his 4,256 career hits, 3,215 career singles, 3,562 career games played, 14,053 career at-bats, and 15,890 career plate appearances, all MLB records – speak for themselves, and here's a look at few of his career highlights courtesy of the Phillies:

One of the most popular figures in Phillies history, Rose signed with the team as a free agent in December 1978.  He played for the Phillies from 1979-83 and made quite an impact.  During those five seasons alone, the Phillies were in a Division Series (1981), two League Championship Series (1980, 1983), two World Series (1980, 1983) and won their first World Championship (1980).  

Rose was a National League leader with the Phillies on more than one occasion: on-base percentage, .418 (1979); singles, 159 (1979) and 117 (1981); doubles, 42 (1980); hits, 140 (1981); games, 162 (1982), and most assists as a first baseman, 123 (1980).  He was also an NL All-Star from 1979-82 and broke the NL hits record in a Phillies uniform on August 10, 1981.  Some more notables from Rose’s Phillies career: he batted .326 in the five postseason series, finished second in the NL batting race twice, .331 (1979) and .325 (1981), and was selected as the first baseman by the fans on the Centennial Team (1983).

There's also an argument to be made that without Rose in Phillies pinstripes, the franchise would only have one World Series title, instead of two.

"He made a big difference in our lineup, obviously," said Phillies bench coach (and Rose's former teammate) Larry Bowa. "It's not like we didn't have a good team before he got here, but he was, like, the missing ingredient. When he came over here, he told everybody that when teams came in to play us that we were an intimidating team. A lot of people on our team didn't believe that. So he just kept saying it and saying it and we started believing in it.

"And, obviously, the way he played the game with reckless abandon. I saw him play through a hamstring pull, stuff like that. When other guys watch guys go through injuries and don't get off the field, that means a lot."

The decision to induct Rose should come as little surprise to Phillies fans, many of whom believe he should've been added years ago – and he would've had it not been for him admitting to gambling on baseball and placed on baseball's ineligible list in 1989.

He also wasn't allowed to partake in team events, like the 20th-anniversary celebration of the 1980 team, from which Rose was noticeably absent.

In recent years, however, new MLB commissioner Rob Manfred has permitted Rose to take part in on-field ceremonies – he was inducted into the Reds' Hall of Fame last year – despite keeping his Baseball Hall-of-Fame ban in place. 

"I think hindsight being 20-20, if Pete would have come out earlier and said, 'I made a mistake,' he'd probably be in the Hall of Fame," Bowa said. "He'll be the first to tell you he made a mistake."

Rose will be honored on the Friday of that three-game weekend series against the Mets in August at the Phillies Alumni Luncheon. That night, fans in attendance will receive a Toyota Pete Rose bobble figurine. On Saturday night, following the on-field ceremony, Rose's bronze plaque will be placed in Ashburn Alley alongside the other members of the Phillies Wall of Fame. Fans that night will receive a commemorative Pete Rose print.

And that weekend, Bowa expects the fans at Citizens Bank Park to match the intensity with which Rose played night in and night out.

"It will be electric. These people love the way he played," Bowa said. "He's a blue-collar player. I don't think that record of hits will ever be broken. First of all, teams aren't going to have enough money to pay guys to get 4,000 hits. That's an incredible record; 20 years and over 4,000 hits. Just the way he approached the game, he didn't consider himself a superstar, he considered himself a blue-collar player that had to work for everything."

Follow Matt on Twitter: @matt_mullin

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