The Big Red Machine came back to witness Pete Rose's induction into the Reds Hall of Fame
It wouldn't have been Pete Rose's Reds Hall of Fame induction without a few jokes at the expense of the man of the hour. And of course, his former teammates were only too happy to comply.
They may have gathered under the pretense of a press conference prior to Rose's on-field induction ceremony, but the 20-plus fellow Reds Hall of Famers who flanked Charlie Hustle on Saturday managed to squeeze in a few jabs.
Johnny Bench, for instance, padded his compliment for Rose with a small caveat.
"He's the most unselfish guy you'd ever meet. Without an ego -- I mean, basically," Bench added with a chuckle. "Did I say that?"'
But Bench wasn't quite done yet.
"I think every one of us is happy. We are happy that Pete's with us today, finally. This is the greatest Cincinnati can produce," he said.
Then came the kicker.
"He has 4,256 hits -- only a few behind Ichiro."
Of course, his old Big Red Machine teammates also had some fond memories of No. 14:
Rose was Barry Larkin's first MLB manager, and the Hall of Fame shortstop had a story to tell about his Major League debut.Travel delays had him in the clubhouse only a half hour before game time, and so his new manager and childhood idol, Rose, offered to lend Larkin his shoes and bat.
They must've worked, because Larkin collected his first big league hit in a pinch-hitting appearance that night.
Rose congratulated Larkin after the game, and, as Larkin recalled, turned around as he was leaving the room.
"'By the way, how did those shoes feel?'" Larkin said Rose asked him. "And I went: 'They were really comfortable.' And he's like: 'And what about the bat?' And I was like: 'Man, that bat was great. That bat was great.'"
"Good," Rose told Larkin. "Now give them back."
Even the man himself joined in the fun. The prestigious red coat awarded to members of the Reds Hall of Fame, he said, was a long time coming.
"It took 30 years, and the size [of the coat] has changed over the years. I'm getting a red coat and that's something I've been looking forward to for 30 years," Rose said.
"I guess good things are worth waiting for. Great things are even better to wait for."