August 17, 1984: Pete Rose, newly reacquired and named “manager-player” of the Cincinnati Reds, makes a triumphant return to his hometown.

Playing first base and batting second, Rose singles in his first at bat in his return as a Red, scoring Gary Redus from second base to tie the game at 1-1. After the ball gets by Chicago Cubs centerfielder Bob Dernier for an error, Rose goes all the way to third base, ending with one of his trademark headfirst slides as the crowd went crazy. Rose later adds a run-scoring double as the Reds won 6-4. Dave Parker drove into the go-ahead run in the fifth inning with a solo home run.

Rose went 8-15 in the three games vs. the Cubs and batted .365 in the 26 games that he played for the Reds that season. He had a .430 OBP and an .888 OPS with the Reds, including nine doubles in 107 plate appearances. With the Montreal Expos through most of 1984, he had only six doubles in 314 plate appearances before joining the Reds. Infielder Tom Lawless is the answer to the trivia question as to whom is the only player ever traded for Pete Rose. Lawless had batted .224 in 92 games for the Reds in 1983-84 and batted .207 overall in eight major league seasons. Rose’s career average is .303 and he scored 2165 runs in his career. A listing of Rose career records can be found here.

Rose played two more major league seasons. He played 119 games in 1985, batting .264 with an OPS of .713, breaking Ty Cobb’s hit record of 4192 on September 11, 1985. His final season came in 1986 when he played 72 games, batting .219 with a .586 OPS and finishing his career with a still-standing record of 4256 hits. Rose never announced his retirement from baseball, but his last appearance was a pinch hit strikeout against Goose Gossage and the San Diego Padres on August 17. His last hit came on August 14 against the San Francisco Giants, a single to left field off Greg Minton. Rose went 3-4 on this day, driving in the go-ahead run with a single in the fifth inning.

Mario Soto was the winning pitcher in Rose’s return game on August 17, 1984, going the distance in the 6-4 win. Soto was in the midst of his winningest major league season, finishing the year 18-7 with a 3.53 ERA and 185 strikeouts. He led the majors in complete games in both 1983 and 1984. He never led the league in strikeouts in a season, but did lead the major leagues in strikeouts from 1980-85 with a total of 1248, 74 more than Hall of Famer and strikeout king Nolan Ryan had during that time. Soto finished second in Cy Young Award voting in 1983 (17-13, 2.70, 242 K’s) and finished in the top ten in Cy Young voting in four different seasons.

One of Soto’s best games came on August 17, 1982, when he struck of 15 New York Mets in a 9-2 Reds win. Soto allowed four hits and walked no one in tying the fourth highest strikeout total in Reds history for a nine-inning game. Noodles Hahn, Jim Maloney, and Ron Villone all have struck out 16 batters in a nine-inning game to set the Reds record. The Mets two runs came on a two-run homer by Rusty Staub.

Soto played in 10 different major league seasons going 100-92 with a 3.47 ERA and averaged 7.75 K’s per nine innings for his career, which is 47th highest in MLB history. He really only played six full major league seasons due to control problems early in his career and arm injuries near the end.