He'll soon learn about Mercer baseball in Macon.
The baseball legend will be the featured speaker at Mercer's sixth annual "First Pitch Classic" dinner and banquet Feb. 4 at Hawkins Arena.
"This fall, we started getting to the point of getting some names together," Mercer head coach Craig Gibson said. "We set the bar pretty high in the last four or five years, so we just tried to follow the tradition."
Four of the first five speakers were former Atlanta Braves, with ex-Georgia standout Gordon Beckham the exception. The other previous speakers were Jeff Francoeur, John Smoltz, Chipper Jones and Dale Murphy.
"We thought we would go outside and try to bring in a non-Brave," said Gibson, whose team made it to the NCAA tournament last season for the second time in four years, getting an at-large bid. "His name came up, and I don't think we could have gone with another 'outsider' any better than who we got."
It will be Rose's second visit to Macon in a little more than a decade.
In July of 2003, he threw out the first pitch for the Macon Peaches, members of the short-lived Southeastern Professional Baseball League. About 2,000 fans were on hand at Luther Williams Field for the visit.
He knew the old stadium well, having played for the old Macon Peaches in 1962 before becoming the NL rookie of the year in 1963.
The dinner begins at 7 p.m. on the main arena floor, preceded by an autograph session in the Presidents Dining Room starting at 5:30 p.m. All proceeds from the event benefit the Mercer baseball program.
A 24-year MLB veteran and the last player-manager in MLB history, the man known as "Charlie Hustle" retired as a player in 1986.
He still holds the major league record for career hits (4,256), singles (3,215), at-bats (14,053) and games played (3,562).
Rose batted better than .300 (at least 400 at-bats) 15 times, including nine straight seasons with a career high of .348 in 1969. He won three NL batting titles, two Gold Gloves, an NL MVP and World Series MVP.
The 72-year-old is still the only player in MLB history to play more than 500 games at five different positions (first base, left field, third base, second base and right field).
Signed out of high school by Cincinnati, Rose spent only three seasons in the minors, in the New York-Penn League, Florida State League,and then with Macon in the South Atlantic League.
In 1989, Rose agreed to a lifetime banishment from baseball while surrounded by gambling allegations, including that he bet on baseball. After years of denying that he bet on baseball, he acknowledged as much in 2004. His exclusion from being eligible for the Baseball Hall of Fame remains a topic that is revisited every year.
Tickets for the autograph session and dinner are sold as separate events. Tickets for the autograph session are $75 per person and are limited to the first 150 participants, while tickets for the dinner are $100 per person.
Information from: The Macon Telegraph, http://www.macontelegraph.com
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