CINCINNATI -- CincinnatiReds player-manager Pete Rose toppled one of baseball's mightiest records Tuesday night, driving a first-inning single off pitcher Eric Show of the San Diego Padres to break Ty Cobb's 57-year-old mark for career hits.
After the 4,192nd hit of Rose's career streaked into left-centerfield, Show plopped glumly on the pitcher's mound, but Steve Garvey, the Padres first baseman who is one of the better hitters in the Major Leagues, gave Rose an affectionate slap on his batting helmet.
There was a historic symmetry to the hit: It came 57 years to the day that Cobb took his final at-bat in the Major Leagues, a fly ball for an out.
The game was stopped for a brief fireworks display as fans in the standing-room-only crowd at Riverfront Stadium surged to their feet, waved their arms and cheered.
Reds owner Marge Schott, who bought the team in 1984 and promised to rejuvenate it, jumped from her box behind her team's dugout, ran up to Rose at first base and kissed him.
The player-manager then began to weep, not bothering to wipe away the tears streaming down his cheeks.
After the game -- in which Rose got two hits in three times at bat and which the Reds won 2-0 -- President Reagan phoned Rose at a home-plate ceremony to say, 'I just want to say congratulations for breaking one of the most enduring records in history. I've been rooting for you ... You've given a lift to the whole country.'
Rose replied, 'You missed a pretty good ballgame tonight.'
Rose went hitless Tuesday night in Cincinnati's 3-2 loss to the Padres. Ticket lines began forming immediately after the game.
'I might have been trying too hard,' the Reds player-manager said. 'I was overanxious but not nervous.'
Rose went 0-for-4 to leave him even with Cobb at 4,191 career hits and make Show a potential victim for hit 4,192 Wednesday night.
'I was seeing the ball good,' Rose said. 'But I only hit the ball good one time.'
With 51,045 fans cheering for him and President Reagan waiting to telephone congratulations, Rose popped out to short twice and flied out to left twice.
Three of the outs came against right-hander LaMarr Hoyt, a former Cy Young Award winner, pitching for the first time after three weeks of shoulder problems.
In the eighth inning, with the Padres leading 3-2, 21-year-old rookie Lance McCullers faced Rose. Max Venable stood on second with the potential tying run.
'I started thinking about it when I went out there,' said McCullers. 'I knew I'd face him. A base hit would score a run and give him the record.'
Rose sent a looping liner to left that Carmelo Martinez caught with no trouble.
In last year's National League playoffs, Show allowed a leadoff homer to Chicago's Bob Dernier, and things never improved.
Show wound up the playoffs with an 0-1 record and a 13.50 ERA. In the World Series, he went 0-1 with a 10.13 ERA.
This year Show was 9-9 with a 3.24 ERA going into Wednesday night, with 22 home-run gopher balls -- the same pitch that plagued him last October.
Rose's worst hitless streak this year is 0-for-13.