The rematch that will not be and the curse of Pete Rose

The rematch that will not be and the curse of Pete Rose

Rochester Democrat and Chronicle, January 9th, 1989 “Jim Kelly walks off the field as Bengals’ defender celebrate a 10-yard second-quarter sack.”

Rarely does a loss by a sports team bother me. Sunday’s overtime defeat of the Bills by the Chiefs was an exception. With 13 seconds left and a three point lead, I was sure the Bills would be playing at home the next week in the AFC  Championship game against the Cincinnati Bengals.

That game would have a rematch of the January 8th, 1989 AFC Championship game won by the Bengals 21 – 10.  The Bills laid an egg. The Bengals forced three interceptions, and allowed only 45 rushing yards and 136 passing yards, while their offense held the ball for 39:29. Bills starting running back Thurman Thomas was held to just six yards on four carries, while quarterback Jim Kelly completed only 14 of 30 passes for 161 yards and a touchdown, with three interceptions. The Bills had only 10 first downs, one more than the AFC Championship record for the fewest ever, and failed to convert any of their 10 third down conversion attempts.

While I was living in Rhode Island at the time, I shared the disappointment of Bills fans in Rochester.

January 9th, 1989. “At the Diplomat Party House on Lyell Avenue, Cincinnati Reds manager Pete Rose, in town for a baseball-card show, watched the Bills-Bengals game on a small color TV while signing hundreds of autographs on baseball bats, Sports Illustrated magazine covers and Wheaties cereal boxes. Rose, who holds the record for the most hits in the history of baseball, was asked earlier in the day who he expected would win the game. The shaggy-haired Cincinnati native looked up from a baseball he was signing and shrugged his broad shoulders. ‘I don’t know who’s going to win. I’m rooting for the Bengals. I’m from Cincinnati.'”

My contention is the Bengals won because then-Cincinnati Reds manager Pete Rose was in town signing memorabilia at the old Diplomat Party House on Lyell Avenue.

January 9th, 1989. “Brighton’s Tony Lanni, 12, shows off his collection of Pete Rose memorabilia.”

Rose was rooting for the Bengals and may have placed a curse on the Bills.

Rose was not yet a baseball pariah. On August 23rd, 1989 Rose was banned from baseball by Commissioner A. Bartlett Giamattia after an investigation determined Rose bet on games — including with the Cincinnati Reds while he was the manager.

Topps @1990 #396 A. Bartlett Giamatti, 7th MLB Commissioner and former President of Yale University 4/4/38 – 9/1/89 [David Kramer’s collection] “[Baseball] breaks your heart. It is designed to break your heart. The game begins in the spring, when everything else begins again, and it blossoms in the summer, filling the afternoons and evenings, and then as soon as the chill rains come, it stops and leaves you to face the fall all alone. You count on it, rely on it to buffer the passage of time, to keep the memory of sunshine and high skies alive, and then just when the days are all twilight, when you need it most, it stops.” A. Bartlett Giamatti, THE GREEN FIELDS OF THE MIND From Farewell Boys and Girls of Summer! Under-40 MVP smashes 5 home runs off Over-40 MVP in Sunday finale

Eight days later — and only five months into his tenure as Commissioner — Giamatti died suddenly of a heart attack. Many speculated the stress of the investigation and his decision contributed to Giamatti’s death.

Peter Rose (l-r. t-b) Topps 1971, 1973,1974, All Star Left Fielder, 1975, 1973 Most Valuable Players, 1976, 1977, 1982 Scratch Off, 1978 ’77 Record Breaker Most Hits, Switch Hitter, Lifetime. From Itching for baseball and the 12th inning home run that Carlton Fisk hit and I missed

1986 MLB Triple Action Sportsflics [David Kramer’s collection] From Itching for baseball and the 12th inning home run that Carlton Fisk hit and I missed

January 9th, 1989

January 9th, 1989


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About The Author

Welcome to Talker of the Town! My name is David Kramer. I have a Ph.D in English and teach at Keuka College. I am a former and still active Fellow at the Nazareth College Center for Public History and a Storyteller in Residence at the SmallMatters Institute. Over the years, I have taught at Monroe Community College, the Rochester Institute of Technology and St. John Fisher College. I have published numerous Guest Essays, Letters, Book Reviews and Opinion pieces in The New York Times, Rochester Democrat and Chronicle, the Buffalo News, the Rochester Patriot, the Providence Journal, the Providence Business News, the Brown Alumni Magazine, the New London Day, the Boston Herald, the Messenger Post Newspapers, the Wedge, the Empty Closet, the CITY, Lake Affect Magazine and Brighton Connections. My poetry appears in The Criterion: An International Journal in English and Rundenalia and my academic writing in War, Literature and the Arts and Twentieth Century Literary Criticism. Starting in February 2013, I wrote for three Democratic and Chronicle  blogs, "Make City Schools Better," "Unite Rochester," and the "Editorial Board." When my tenure at the D & C  ended, I wanted to continue conversations first begun there. And start new ones.  So we created this new space, Talker of the Town, where all are invited to join. I don’t like to say these posts are “mine.” Very few of them are the sole product of my sometimes overheated imagination. Instead, I call them partnerships and collaborations. Or as they say in education, “peer group work.” Talker of the Town might better be Talkers of the Town. The blog won’t thrive without your leads, text, pictures, ideas, facebook shares, tweets, comments and criticisms.


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