Back in the summer of 1988, I moved from the apartment I shared with my brother Scott in San Bernardino to the heat-soaked state of Arizona, where I spent two months living with my Mom in Chandler before getting my own place in Tempe. Scott helped me drive the moving van out, and he stayed an additional week so we could hang out and enjoy a few days together before he headed back to his new place in San Diego; during his visit, we saw five movies in five days, played catch and shot baskets at a local park with my friend Brent, and on a sunny Thursday afternoon sat down to play a game of Statis Pro on the living room floor of my Mom’s apartment, a Reds-Phillies match-up that saw Cincinnati third baseman Pete Rose collect his 3,000th career hit.
Throughout the week, Scott and I had been recording on-the-spot monologues, jovial banter, and flat-out nonsense for my friend Steve P, using a microcassette recorder whose completed tape would be sent to Steve as a kind of audio journal of our seven-day Arizona adventure. I recently unearthed a copy of this tape while I was cleaning out a closet in my apartment; below is a transcribed account of our ‘broadcast’ from that SP78 game, spotlighting Rose’s five plate appearances and a few other highlights that were worthy of documentation at the time. I managed the Reds, while Scott—who every now and then offered up his twisted color commentary, adding some spice to the recording—took part in his 25th career SP78 game, and piloted the Phillies.
TB: Okay, it’s Thursday the 23rd of June, and we’re getting ready to play Statis Pro game #294, Philadelphia at Cincinnati, Dick Ruthven versus Fred Norman. Pete Rose going for hit #3,000…he needs four, and we’ll update you whenever Pete Rose comes to the plate. We also have last year’s Reds-Giants ‘Monday Night Baseball’ game playing on TV right now.
TB: After a scoreless first inning for Philadelphia, Pete Rose leads it off for the Reds here in the bottom of the first…Dick Ruthven is a PB-7…it’s in Ruthven’s range…and Rose walks! He would’ve doubled if it was on his card! So Rose goes to first.
TB: Bottom of the first, with one run already in…Johnny Bench, with two men on…a long fly ball to deep left-center field…back goes Luzinski, back…it’s outta here! 4-0 Reds! Johnny Bench hits his fifth homer of the year!
SB: Luzinski had four jelly donuts before the game…he could not scale that fence!
TB: Norman just flew out to McCarver for the first out in the second…up steps lead-off man Pete Rose, trying again to get closer to hit #3,000…it’s out of Ruthven’s range…Rose needs a 41 or less for a base hit…a 22! It’s a single to center field off Dick Ruthven! Base hit! And Pete Rose is three hits away from hit #3,000 of his career!
TB: Stepping up here in the bottom of the fourth, Pete Rose…1-for-1 with a walk…we have a man on second, Junior Kennedy, with two down…Rose up against Ruthven…it’s out of Ruthven’s range…switch-hitter, there’s a base hit! Base hit number two, he’s two hits away from 3,000!
TB: The Reds are up 6-1, after a single, an error, and a single back in the fifth…now in the bottom of the sixth, Pete Rose is leading it off here against new pitcher Tug McGraw…don’t ask me to explain it, Scott’s managing the Phillies.
SB: Look, who else do I have? Eastwick…Lonborg’s only a starter…I don’t have to explain my actions to you!
TB: Pete Rose, 2-for-2, two singles and a walk, going up against Tug McGraw…it’s out of McGraw’s range…oh, it’s a single for Rose! Rose is one hit away from the 3,000th hit of his career! If the Reds have a big inning, he’ll be up one more time! I wonder if the Reds next play at home or go on the road?
SB: While Todd is checking some Rose statistics, I’ll explain my actions. Bob Boone is sick, that’s why McCarver is in, even though Carlton is not pitching…and McCarver’s single gave the Phillies their only run of the game…
TB: Yeah, Pete Rose’s next Reds game is at home, a four-game series against Montreal…Rose will get his hit at Riverfront, more than likely…
SB: Anyway, I’m putting Tug McGraw in right now because he’s a feisty character who can do the job in these last three innings.
TB: Middle three innings.
SB: Last three innings.
TB: What, he’s gonna go five innings?
SB: What’re you talking about, five innings? He just started! There’s just three innings left!
TB: We’re in the bottom of the seventh, runners on second and third, two down…Pete Rose needs one hit, he’s at 2,999…here’s the pitch from McGraw…it’s 4:16…it’s out of McGraw’s range…Rose needs a 41 or less for #3,000…THERE IT IS! A BASE HIT! Right field, down the line! Rose has gone 4-for-4! Pete Rose, four singles in the game, hits #3,000! And both runners, I believe, will score!
SB: McGraw, you…
TB: He’s not used to long relief work!
TB: Four for four! And Philadelphia manager Scott Benefiel said before the game, it couldn’t be done! And after Rose had walked, he guaranteed that Rose would not get the hit in this game…even with the possibility of an extra-inning game!
SB: He (manager Scott) is walking out to the mound…no, he’s running towards first base! He tackles Rose! Rose is down! Rose is not moving! Nobody wants to approach Benefiel, he looks too tough!
TB: That was Rose’s second 4-for-4 game in the past four games. The hit happened at 4:16 pm…I’m gonna write that down.
SB: You’ve already said it twice!
TB: I know, I gotta write it down!
TB: The final here from Riverfront, it was Cincinnati 8, Philadelphia 2…going the distance was Fred Norman, he improved his record to 5-0…the loser was Dick Ruthven…and Pete Rose collects four hits in getting the 3,000th of his career!
SB: Y’know, Vinny, the Phillies may have lost, but I think kudos should go to manager Scott Benefiel for some of his plays in today’s game…