The Bottom Line
By Bill Nestor
Two Saturdays ago Morgantown was hosting one of the most recognizable baseball figures in history. Pet Rose, major league baseball’s all-time hits leader, made his way to the Waterfront Hotel and Conference Center. Rose was the guest speaker at the fourth annual Leadoff Dinner for the West Virginia Baseball program.
Rose collected 4,256 hits during his playing career that started in 1963 and ended in 1986. He has continued to stay in the news for his continual efforts to land in Major League Baseball’s Hall of Fame. Even though his efforts have been futile, he recently was inducted into the Cincinnati Red’s Hall of Fame.
Most people have heard Rose speak in great length about why he should take his place in Cooperstown and that was what several anticipated hearing from Pete. However, there was little “Re-Pete” as Rose dazzled those in attendance with stories from his playing days that included plenty of recognizable names. It was very entertaining to say the least as Rose told it how he sees it and didn’t spare anyone’s feelings in the process.
Mountaineer Head Baseball Coach Randy Mazey was happy with the attendance. At this sold out event, his program has been on the rise and it has been steadily gaining support. The new ballpark and a solid team have aided in putting more people in the stands. Mazey’s best move was bringing Rose to town. It brought several people to town and while there was a captive audience Mazey turned up the charm and won over even more fans.
The current players were introduced and a reunion took place. Several members of WVU’s 1996 Big East Baseball Championship team were in the building. I had the honor of taking in most of their games. They were only two wins away from the college world series and they provided the last baseball title for the Mountaineer program. Former Washington Irving All-Starter, Chris Swaney was a key contributor to that squad. He was the main reason that I was at the event.
Mazey wouldn’t take credit for reeling in Rose; it appears as if Men’s Basketball Coach Bob Huggins is friends with Rose and helped to bring him to town. Huggins is the “top dog” in the state of West Virginia. He is the most respected sports figure in the Mountain Sate and now his team is the top team in the Big 12 Conference. Saturday’s double digit defeat of Baylor earned the Mounties sole possession of first place. Climbing to the top of the Conference standings has been no easy task, but know that this team has accomplished this feat and a high level of confidence accompanies it.
Despite the fact that there is a whole lot of hoops to be played this season, it’s a feather in the cap of these players that have fought so hard to put themselves in this position. It also validates the words of Huggins. The players now realize that what Huggins has been preaching really does work. It should make it easier for Huggins to get his points across to his players. This feat was accomplished without Johnathan Holton and when he returns to the team, there will be a big shot of adrenaline which is something to look forward to.
That will do it for now. Until next week…take care and God Bless!