In our celebration of Major League Baseball’s 1969 season (nice), we first take a look at that year’s batting champion, Pete Rose.
Rose led baseball with a .348 batting average, followed closely by Roberto Clemente’s .345 average and Cleon Jones’ .340 average. The Cincinnati Reds outfielder would actually beat Clemente for the batting title on the last day of the season, bunting for a base hit in his last at-bat.
This was Rose’s best year as a hitter, as he reached career highs in batting average and on-base percentage (.428) while tying his career-high in home runs with 16. The guy who now says a lot of wacky things on TV for Fox’s baseball coverage had 218 hits in 1969, along with 33 doubles and 11 triples. He just raked like he always did and if I think too much about him not being in the Hall of Fame, my internal organs will explode out of me.
The next season, Rose would be involved in one of the most infamous plays in baseball history, when he barreled over Cleveland Indians catcher Ray Fosse at home plate to score the winning run of the All-Star Game. Fosse would sustain a fractured and separated shoulder from the incident and was never truly the same, while the collision forced Rose to take stock of his life to that point, and he was finally convinced that he should start betting on baseball.
Rose would go on to have many more great years in baseball, finally winning the MVP award in 1973 and three World Series titles. But from an individual standpoint, no year could reach (though many were close) the overall greatness Rose would achieve in 1969.