As a youngster in New Castle with a diehard Cincinnati Reds grandmother, some of my earliest memories are being in her kitchen listening to Marty and Joe broadcasting Reds action on The Big One, 700 WLW.
I was only five when Pete Rose, by far my favorite player, joined the Phillies in 1978. It marked the beginning of a long on-field struggle for the Reds, who traded or let go most of their Big Red Machine cogs in the late 70s.
But I followed Charlie Hustle religiously, rooting when he won a World Series with the Phillies in 1980, keeping watch during his brief stop in Montreal and exulting his homecoming as player-manager of the Reds in 1984.
Upon Rose’s lifetime banishment from baseball in 1989 for gambling on the sport — four years after he set the MLB all-time hits record — I was a teenager, not quite as prone to unquestioned fandom. Disappointed that Rose broke baseball’s cardinal sin, certainly. But it didn’t kill me.