Great Baseball Nicknames- ‘Charlie Hustle’- Pete Rose. One of the most controversial athletes of the 20th century- due to his being kicked out of the game and banned from the Hall of Fame due to his gambling. Pete Rose is the all time hits leader with 4256 career hits- but he is also the player who made the most outs while at bat.
Pete Rose clearly loved his nickname ‘Charlie Hustle’ but when it was given to him by Yankees pitcher and future Hall of Famer Whitey Ford- he was being made fun of. It was spring training in 1963 and Rose was a 21 year old rookie. As Yankee Tony Kubek told the story -“Mickey Mantle, Whitey Ford and I were stranding around on the sidelines. Up comes the Reds third base coach Reggie Otero who whispers to us “Wait’ll you get a load of this kid. He goes down to first base in four seconds” Whitey says ” Big Deal. Mickey can get down in 3.5″ Otero says “Oh yeah? This kid does it on a base on balls.”So Whitey, a great bench jockey starts riding this enthusiastic kid. He starts making fun of him, screaming out “Charlie Hustle’ this, “Charlie Hustle’ that. The name stuck.
Just my two cents but I saw Rose play. During his career I never thought this but now 35 years or so after his career has ended and what has gone down since with him- I wonder… There were a lot of players over the years that gave 110% at all times but never made a big deal about it they just played hard. It became Rose’s calling card. Rose seems to me even as he approaches 80 as a guy who thrives on attention. He is that kid who was in your class who was constantly wanting everyone’s attention- all the time. I think a lot of Rose’s hustle was fake hustle. Does a hitter on a walk need to sprint to first base? Or run in full speed at the end of an inning from the outfield? Rose got attention for these antics. Did he play hard when it mattered? Of course he did- but there was a lot of mustard on that hot dog.