SURE TO BE A HIT

Pete Rose to offer instruction, advice to young players at Hit King Academy in Katy today

Pete Rose is one of the all-time great hitters. Getty Images

Baseball kids in the Houston area can get batting tips tonight from a former big leaguer who, let's say, knocked a few hits in his time.
Well, more than a few.

Actually, more than anybody in the history of baseball.

Pete Rose has more hit records than the Beatles, Elvis, Michael Jackson and Taylor Swift combined. Like a game of pickle, here's the rundown:

Most hits (4,256). Most singles (3,215). Most games played (3,562). Most at bats (14,053). Seventeen All-Star Games. Three batting titles. Two Gold Gloves. One MVP. And a partridge …

Rose will set up shop in the batting cage at his “Hit King Academy” on Clay Road in Katy and give individual pointers to players. There will be two sessions: 4:30 – 6 p.m. for ages 8-13, and 7 – 8:30 p.m. for 14 and older. Both sessions will include question-and-answer time and autographs for players and their parents.

The price is $50 per player, with half-off for additional siblings. To register, email plamarr@hitkingbaseball.com or click on hitkingbaseball.com for more information.

I spent some time “talking baseball” with Rose on Sunday night. I asked what was his motivation for putting on this clinic and opening the Hit King Baseball facility.

“I’m doing this simply because I watch two or three games a day. I’m tired of seeing guys play fundamentally unsound baseball,” Rose said. “We’ve got to teach these kids, at a very early age, the right way to play the game of baseball. If you play the right way, you’ve got a better chance of winning.

“Our academy is all about winning. If the guy is a home run hitter, I’m not going to take that away from him. If the guy is a singles hitter, we’re not to change that, either. But they must learn that the more times they put the ball in play, the better their chances are of getting on base. The more times they’re on base, the better their chances are of scoring runs. It all leads to winning games.

“The big thing about me is, my first year in the minors, we won the championship. My second year, we won the championship. When I got the to the big leagues, I expected to win the championship. That’s the way I was raised. Winning and being positive are good habits, just like losing and being negative are bad habits.”

Think fantasy camp for kids: one-on-one batting instruction from the legend who did it better – certainly more - than anybody. Ever. Whatever troubles and self-inflicted scandals followed him, Rose undeniably is the Hit King. As humorist James Thurber - or maybe it was Yogi Berra - said, "you could look it up."

I didn't meet a pro baseball player until I was an adult. I played third base in charity softball game in Phoenix. The left fielder was former New York Met Ron Swoboda. I thought he broke my hand when he gunned down a runner trying to stretch a double into a triple. I asked Rose, who was the first big leaguer you met?

“I was raised three miles from Crosley Field (home of the Cincinnati Reds from 1912 to 1970). The big weekends for me and my family was when the Brooklyn Dodgers came to town. Don Zimmer, one of the Dodgers, grew up in Cincinnati. He even had some of the same Little League coaches as me,” Rose said.

“In those days, the visitors’ clubhouse was in a separate building behind the stadium. When I was a kid, maybe 8 or 9 years old, I'd wait outside the clubhouse for Don Zimmer to come out. Even though I was a Reds fan, and Ted Kluzewski was my favorite player, Don Zimmer was the first Major Leaguer I met. Not only did Don talk to me, he introduced me to Jackie Robinson, Duke Snider, Carl Furillo, Gil Hodges, Roy Campanella and the other Dodger greats. That was pretty cool and I've never forgotten it."

The Pete Rose Hit King Academy enters its second year in midst of heavy construction and expansion plans in Katy.

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Martin Truex Jr. won his 2nd race of the season last week. Photo via: Wiki Commons.

NASCAR returns to the Commonwealth of Virginia for the Toyota Owners 400 at Richmond Raceway. This is the first of two races here at this track as they will race on Sunday afternoon. This will be different from the normal night race they usually have here as this will definitely affect the racing surface considering how much the sun could make the track slick. It should be a fun race come Sunday.

Last week, Martin Truex Jr. passed Denny Hamlin to capture his second win of the season after rain moved the race to Sunday. He became the first driver to win multiple races after a fierce battle with his teammate Denny Hamlin. The race was filled with tons of wrecks including a fifteen car pileup including Brad Keselowski and Kyle Busch. It was one of the better races of the season as there was lots of beating and banging.

The race was not without controversy but not the kind you would expect. Early in the race Rick Ware Racing teammates Cody Ware and James Davison were involved in an altercation. The two were battling towards the back of the pack when Ware decided to drive through his teammate in turn four. The race got much worse for Cody Ware as he was involved in three more cautions all throughout the race. Many people around the sport were quite perturbed by his antics including broadcaster Mike Joy as he was audibly annoyed after Ware spun out later in the race. Many have questioned if the fifth-year driver should even be in the car and overall I can understand why some of those people think that. In his five years of driving, he has finished on the lead lap one time. I hope that he is able to figure it out and find success in the future, but this was not a good look.

The slump continues for two-time champion Kyle Busch

Throughout the race, Busch was running okay for the most part but towards the closing laps of the race he and Chris Buescher got together triggering a fifteen car pileup. Despite all this, he was able to rebound to a respectable tenth place finish. This has been more than likely the toughest stretch of his career since his championship in 2019. Many would say that the omission of Practice and Qualifying has really affected his performance. Whatever the issue is, this team really needs to find some speed, or he could be in danger of missing the playoffs. I look for this team to bounce back considering how talented he is.

Prediction

The driver that I have winning this week is Kyle Larson. This has been an incredible rebound season for Larson as he currently sits fourth in points. He is also second in laps led only to Denny Hamlin. Richmond has been a great track for him as it fits his driving style perfectly as he can run the outside line and find grip where others can't. This track is also rather sentimental to him considering he won his first pole award here during his rookie season in 2014. While he may not have the results he would want he has always been extremely fast here and even won back in 2017. I look for him to capture his second victory of 2021 come Sunday.

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