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'4192: The Crowning of the Hit King' is one-sided, but tells that side well

March 8, 2011 | 11:20 pm

I was a little scared to watch "4192: The Crowning of the Hit King" when it first made its way to me recently. Pete Rose was my dad's favorite player, and Rose, at best, is a polarizing figure who stirs debate among all baseball fans. You either love him or hate him.

But I started watching, and found myself engrossed by the story this documentary tells. Director Terry Lukemire has done us all a great service with this film by reminding us of what a great ballplayer Rose was. 

Before he became the face for the evils of gambling, Rose was a beloved figure (especially in Cincinnati). He was the guy who seemed to wring every ounce of ability out of his body, culminating with him setting the career record for hits. This movie takes you from his first season to his last, with interviews with many former players, including Tony Perez and Mike Schmidt.

The most fascinating parts are the segments with the Rose of today talking about his playing days. Rose is at his best here, charming, scheming, self-indulgent, proud. It's mesmerizing stuff.

 If you are looking for a discussion of his fall from grace and banishment from the game, look elsewhere. There is not talk of that here. It's like the giant elephant in the room. You know it's there, but no one wants to mention it. That is not what this film was supposed to be about, however. It is a look at Pete Rose: Hit King. And it does a good job of that.

-- Houston Mitchell