With Cooperstown-bound legends in both dugouts and a futuristic indoor facility dubbed “The Eighth Wonder of the World” as the hosting venue, the 1968 All-Star Game was limited to a run-scoring double-play grounder as its lone offensive highlight. Absent that afternoon was Cincinnati’s Pete Rose. The 27-year-old was deservedly selected for the Mid-Summer gala, having already authored a 22-game hitting streak and entered the All-Star break with a .329 batting average and 1008 career hits. But a broken left thumb was the result of his unbridled passion and competitive spirit, which led him to dive for a fly ball at Dodger Stadium just two days before the All-Star break. While Rose reluctantly missed the festivities in Houston, the offered Hillerich & Bradsby weapon was at the ready. The (32.9-oz/36”) “S2” white ash signature model lumber features engraved “ALL-STAR GAME” and “1968 – HOUSTON” identifiers flanking the hit king’s facsimile signature on the barrel. Spared from the activity, the uncracked war club exhibits no use and retains its prominent center brand/stampings and furniture-like finish. And it’s a wonder Rose didn’t somehow make his way to the plate that day. Less than two weeks later, against the orders of physicians and manager Dave Bristol, Rose swung at full strength in “pepper” activities in Pittsburgh and returned to the lineup despite x-rays showing his thumb was still mending. This is a rare Mid-Summer Classic relic from a bygone era and player whose unyielding spirit is unmatched and sadly, gone forever. Full photo LOA from John Taube, PSA/DNA.
The PSA/DNA full photo LOA indicates that Rose's ledger at the Hillerich & Bradsby plant lists this as one of two bats ordered on July 5, 1968 (the day Rose broke his thumb at Dodger Stadium).