Tim Kurkjian's baseball fix: At 49, straight from prison, Pete Rose could still hit

Kurkjian recalls Rose's hitting display after getting out of prison (1:06)

With March 27 being the anniversary of a 1989 story Sports Illustrated wrote about Pete Rose's gambling, Tim Kurkjian tells the story of when Rose put on an impressive display at a batting cage after getting out of prison. (1:06)

You love baseball. Tim Kurkjian loves baseball. So while we await its return, every day we'll provide you with a story or two tied to this date in baseball history.

ON THIS DATE IN 1989, Sports Illustrated published a story connecting Pete Rose to gambling in baseball. We know that story. We also know that years later, Rose went to prison for five months for tax evasion. The day he got out, his son Pete Jr. picked him up at the prison. Pete's first question to his son was, "Is there a batting cage near here?''

"Yes,'' Pete Jr. said, "there's one right down the street.''

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Off they went. Pete said to the proprietor of the batting cage: "What's the fastest machine you have here?'' The proprietor pointed and said, "That one: 85 mph.'' So Pete Rose, age 49, incarcerated for five months, stepped into the batting cage.

By now, all the people at the batting cage realized that the Hit King was in the cage. They all gathered around. The first pitch came in at 85 mph. If you have never seen 85, or haven't seen it in a while, that ball is moving at an exceptional rate of speed. Pete swung at the first pitch and hit a line drive directly back at the pitching machine, a rocket, a seed, an absolutely textbook swing.

He looked at the assembled crowd, threw his bat to the ground and said, "Some things never f---ing change,'' and walked away.

Other baseball notes from March 27

  • In 1984, the Astros released pitcher J.R. Richard. He would never pitch again. He started the 1980 All-Star Game but suffered a stroke that year and was never the same. He was 6-foot-8, threw in the upper 90s with a slider. Said Larry Parrish, who hit against him many times, "That was like Pac-Man, it just followed you, it gobbled you up, like, 'Ah, ah, ah, ah, ah!'''

  • In 1973, the Braves released pitcher Denny McLain, ending his career at age 28. He was the last 30-game winner, going 31-6 for the 1968 Tigers. That season, more than once he left his team the night after making a start and would fly to another city and play the organ at a club while his team continued its homestand.

  • In 1951, Dick Ruthven was born. In 1976, he gave up 112 runs, all earned.

  • In 1973, pitcher Jim Perry became the first player to use the 10-and-5 clause in his contract -- 10 years in the league, the past five with the same team -- to appeal a trade. In 1982, in a winter meetings preview issue for The Dallas Morning News, I wrote that Royals pitcher Larry Gura likely wouldn't be traded because he was a "5-and-10 guy.'' I should have written "10-and-5 guy'' because my editor rewrote and it appeared in the newspaper as "pitcher Larry Gura likely won't be traded because he's 5-ft-10.''