Play Hungry: The Making of A Baseball Player

Cover of Pete Rose's book Play Hungry: The Making of A Baseball Player

To those in the world of baseball, whether old or young, Pete Rose needs no introduction. Everyone who knows the game knows the lasting impact he’s had on baseball, both on and off the field. He still holds numerous records including the one that he seems most proud of, most all-time hits (4,256). Rose is as infamous today for the reason he’s not in the baseball Hall of Fame as he was famous during his career for the way he played. His full throttle, all out all the time style drew the attention of teammates, competitors, and fans alike, though not everyone found it inspirational.

In Play Hungry, Pete Rose wastes no time hammering home the reason he played like every game was his last. His father, a man who took a 45-minute bus ride to his day job, was a local semi-pro sports legend. Pete idolized his father and was enamored by the way he carried himself in competition. It was a combination of his father’s winning is everything and work as hard as you can mentality that had the greatest impact on Rose. Throughout the story, Rose time and time again talks about the way his father’s influence pushed him to better himself regardless of how others viewed his effort. The brash and somewhat cocky Rose had plenty of awards and accomplishments to talk about, and he did. But he also doesn’t shy away from discussing some difficult circumstances like being advised by the Reds to stop spending time off the field with black players – advise which he didn’t heed, the passing of his father, and briefly touching on his lifetime ban from baseball.

Getting the inside scoop on such things as what life was like as a minor leaguer during the early 1960s, winning the Rookie of the Year and MVP awards, winning back to back batting titles, being a three-time World Series champion, and seeing your son play in his first Major League game should be enough to enthrall any fan. Best of all, with the exception of a two-page chapter titled “I Blew It, I Know That”, he doesn’t mention gambling on baseball or not being enshrined in the Hall of Fame.

This is not a flimsy attempt to win back the love of fans who have long written him off. Nor is it an attempt to sway anyone associated with the Hall of Fame. You get so lost in the first-hand accounts of Rose that you forget about the gambling and lifetime ban. Pete speaks in a way that will leave you feeling as though you’ve just spent the last few hours having a few drinks and talking baseball with Pete Rose.

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