Monday, September 23, 2002

Browning paints tribute to Rose

Former pitcher sprays No. 14 on mound

By John Erardi and Michael Perry
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Throughout the postgame celebration Sunday, you could hear fans calling out, “Pete, Pete.”

        Sometimes it was louder than others, but it was clear the crowd wanted an acknowledgment of Pete Rose, who because of his ban from baseball was prohibited from participating in the festivities.

        So former Reds pitcher Tom Browning found a can of red spray paint - he won't say who gave it to him - and painted the number 14 on the pitcher's mound for everyone to see.

        “That way (the fans) know that the people out here, all of us players, wanted Pete to be recognized as well,” Browning said. “That was the only thing we could do other than taking over the mike and starting our own program.”

        Browning was one of 52 former Reds players, managers and front-office personnel honored on the field.

        Browning said later that Rose and Johnny Bench were his favorite players when he was growing up.

        Browning later played for Rose when he was managing the Reds.

        “To me, he was Mr. Baseball,” Browning said of Rose. “I could sit and listen to him tell stories forever just because he played on the team in the era that I enjoyed watching as a kid.”

        There were more symbolic gestures toward Rose.

        When Ryan Dempster, the last winning pitcher in Cinergy Field, came out to throw one of the ceremonial final pitches to catcher Jason LaRue, LaRue had a red rose stuck in his hat. He said that was a spur-of-the-moment decision.

        “Fans were throwing roses out on the warning track,” LaRue said. “I saw it on the ground there. Obviously just about everyone thinks Pete Rose should be honored, so that was a way of honoring him today since he couldn't be here.”

        VOODOO REMOVED: Big Red Machine reliever Pedro Borbon said he would be putting no voodoo curses on Great American Ball Park, as he was rumored to have put on Riverfront Stadium after being traded.

        “I don't have that power,” he said. “I never really did put any voodoo on Riverfront, but people thought I did. You won't have to worry about me at the new ballpark.”

        THIS AND THAT: Tony Perez got some laughs when, after mentioning some of his highlights from his career at Riverfront (“playing in the playoffs, World Series, world championships and coaching for a world champion,”) added “and I managed here for a few days.” He was fired after 44 games in 1993.


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