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Cincinnati Reds 150th anniversary: top 50 games in MLB club's history

Cincinnati Enquirer logo Cincinnati Enquirer 5/9/2019 Mark Schmetzer
a baseball player holding a bat on a field: Pete Rose, left, swings at New York Mets shortstop Bud Harrelson after Rose failed to break up a double play in Game 3 of the 1973 National League Championship series. Both benches emptied in the ensuing brawl. © Marty Lederhandler/AP Pete Rose, left, swings at New York Mets shortstop Bud Harrelson after Rose failed to break up a double play in Game 3 of the 1973 National League Championship series. Both benches emptied in the ensuing brawl.

The poster covered parts of bedroom walls all over Greater Cincinnati for years.

It depicted Pete Rose rounding second base, right fist raised shoulder high, a dejected New York Mets shortstop Bud Harrelson in the background looking down at the Shea Stadium infield.

Across the top of the poster, the word “Rose” is written in large, white, lower-case letters.

Rose, the Cincinnati Reds' combative left fielder and leadoff hitter, is completing in the poster his triumphant trip around the bases following a 12th-inning, one-out solo home run off New York right-hander Harry Parker that gave Cincinnati a 2-1 lead in Game 4 of the 1973 best-of-five National League Championship Series.

The homer was Rose’s latest contribution to what had become a tumultuous series against the Mets, who’d qualified for the playoffs by winning the NL East with an 82-79 record. The Reds won the first game, 2-1, at Riverfront Stadium on solo homers by Rose in the eighth and Johnny Bench in the ninth. Left-hander Jon Matlack crafted a masterful, complete-game, two-hit shutout in New York’s 5-0 Game 2 win. Right fielder Andy Kosco logged both of the Reds’ singles.

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The Mets grabbed a 2-1 series lead in Game 3 in New York with a 9-2 win punctuated in the fifth inning by a benches-clearing brawl sparked by Rose’s hard slide into second base trying to break up a double play. He and scrawny shortstop Bud Harrelson got tangled up and started throwing punches. As the fighting lost steam, Reds reliever Pedro Borbon started walking away wearing a Mets cap, out of which he ripped a bite when he realized his mistake.

When Rose went out to left field, fans pelted him with bottles and other debris, prompting Sparky Anderson to pull his team off the field and the umpires to threaten a forfeit. New York Manager Yogi Berra and iconic Mets Willie Mays, Tom Seaver, Cleon Jones and Rusty Staub trooped out to left field to reason with the fans.

That created an edgy atmosphere for Game 4. After New York grabbed a 1-0 lead, Tony Perez hit a game-tying homer in the seventh. Left-hander Don Gullett and right-hander Clay Carroll combined for six innings of shutout relief, opening the door for the switch-hitting Rose – batting left-handed for the first time since his homer off Tom Seaver in Game 1 – to launch a 2-2 fastball over the Shea Stadium right-field wall. He ran full speed around the bases, enduring a torrent of boos.

“No one likes to be booed,” he said. “I mean, sometimes, you’re booed out of respect, but this wasn’t one of those times. Seemed like everyone was booing me in left field. I did hear two cheers, come to think about it, but they came from our bullpen.”

“He is the greatest player I’ve ever played with,” Reds utility player Phil Gagliano said. “Rose is the most valuable player, no doubt.”

The Reds couldn’t maintain the momentum, losing Game 5, 7-2.

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This article originally appeared on Cincinnati Enquirer: Cincinnati Reds 150th anniversary: top 50 games in MLB club's history

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