Tuesday, November 28, 2006
Talk About The Passion-Part III
An ongoing (and highly subjective) series highlighting the ten greatest moments in Cincinnati Sports History.
8. Pete Rose shoves Dave Pallone, makes him gay (April 30, 1988)
The Key Players:
To say Pete Rose was a legend in the city of Cincinnati would be an understatement. I had a giant poster of him above my bed when I was 5. Coaches in Knothole leagues around the area didn't even bother to teach kids how to slide feet-first. When he was traded from the Expos to the Reds in 1984 and named player manager, the city went crazy. He won 426 games in four and a half seasons as the team's manager, finishing 2nd each year in the NL West while gambling on the team constantly. People in Cincinnati defended Rose throughout his gambling scandals, and many remained convinced that Pete had never bet on baseball until he finally admitted it in 2004.
Dave Pallone was the third youngest umpire to ever work in the major leagues. He joined the league in 1979, during an umpire strike. He called the All-star game at Comiskey Park in 1983, and in 1985, he called Nolan Ryan's 4,000th strikeout after catching Ryan's 3,997th strikeout in the family jewels, shattering his protective cup (which was subsequently signed by the pitcher). He was fired after the 1988 season by MLB, basically for being gay. He now works as a keynote speaker for diversity issues.
Early in the 1988 season, the Reds played the Mets at Riverfront stadium. It was Kid Glove night at the stadium, so a bunch of young Knothole players (myself included) attended the game. With the score tied at 5-5 in the top of the ninth, Mookie Wilson was called safe at 1st base by Pallone. Rose charged at Pallone like he was a black jack table and began arguing with him. Pallone (Rose would argue later) jabbed Pete under the eye during the argument causing a small "abrasion". Pete lost his shit and shoved Pallone. Then the Reds fans lost their shit and threw debris on the field, pelting Pallone with beer bottles AND a boom box (or a ghetto blaster, it was 1988). The Reds went on to lose the game, and during my walk back to the parking lot, a group of drunken fans started up a cheer that I have never been able to forget:
To the tune of "When the Saints Go Marching In"
"Oh when the umps....
Come marching in...
Oh when the umps come marching in....
We will cut off...
All of their testicles...
When the umps come marching in."
Rose ended up with a 30 game suspension after the game, which was the longest suspension for an on-the-field incident in the history of the game. I'm not sure what Pete was up to during his suspension since the Dowd report only covers 1987. Pallone was fined $100, but the close brush with Rose changed his life forever. In 1990, he wrote "Behind the Mask", a book detailing his experience as a gay umpire. The world is still waiting for other baseball figures closely related to Rose (Joe Morgan, Johnny Bench, Ray Fosse) to follow suit and come out as well.
Pete Rose 0.
Dave Pallone 1.
I think Pallone's the clear winner.
He doesn't have any kids in jail for distributing steroids. Also he's never appeared on WrestleMania. I still love Pete though. And Jim Gray still sucks.