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Publisher's Summary

A New York Times best seller

The inside story of how Pete Rose became one of the greatest and most controversial players in the history of baseball.

Pete Rose was a legend on the field. As baseball’s hit king, he shattered records that were thought to be unbreakable. And during the 1970s, he was the leader of the Big Red Machine, the Cincinnati Reds team that dominated the game. But he’s also the greatest player who may never enter the Hall of Fame because of his lifetime ban from the sport. Perhaps no other ballplayer’s story is so representative of the triumphs and tragedies of our national pastime. 

In Play Hungry, Rose tells us the story of how, through hard work and sheer will, he became one of the unlikeliest stars of the game. Guided by the dad he idolized, a local sports hero, Pete learned to play hard and always focus on winning. But even with his dad’s guidance, Pete was cut from his team as a teenager - he wasn’t a natural. Rose was determined, though, and never would be satisfied with anything less than success. His relentless hustle and headfirst style would help him overcome his limitations, leading him to one of the most exciting and brash careers in the history of the sport.

Play Hungry is Pete Rose’s love letter to the game and an unvarnished story of life on the diamond. One of the icons of a golden age in baseball, he describes just what it was like to hit (or try to hit) a Bob Gibson fastball or a Gaylord Perry spitball, what happened in that infamous collision at home plate during the 1970 All-Star Game, and what it felt like to topple Ty Cobb’s hit record. And he speaks to how he let down his fans, his teammates, and the memory of his dad when he gambled on baseball, breaking the rules of a sport that he loved more than anything else. 

Told with candor and wry humor - including tales he’s never told before - Rose’s memoir is his final word on the glories and controversies of his life and, ultimately, a master class in how to succeed when the odds are stacked against you.

©2019 Pete Rose (P)2019 Penguin Audio

Critic Reviews

“The title says it all. This is how a hungry kid became one of the greatest ball players of all time. Essential reading for baseball fans, controversy and all.” (Booklist, starred review)

“An eloquent plea for reinstatement...[Rose] is expressive about the sport he loves and about the father who raised him to strive to win.... There's an authentic Huck Finn-ish charm to these passages. Baseball was not the slick slugfest of today. Players bore colorful nicknames, played day games, and they played hurt. It was a game of knockdowns and spitballs....  Play Hungry testifies to the dividends paid by desire, not just to Mr. Rose but to the teammates that he inspired with the will to win...the sport misses the authenticity of his voice, and the Hall of Fame - barred to him on account of his banishment - can hardly be complete absent such an immense talent. After 30 years, baseball should think about bringing him home." (Wall Street Journal)

“[Rose’s] recollections about baseball - and life off the field - yield rewards for readers. In a baseball memoir filled with plenty of strikes and balls, Rose offers abundant evidence of why he has become a touchstone of controversy.” (Kirkus Reviews)

Featured Article: The Best Baseball Audiobooks of All Time


Ask any baseball fan and they'll tell you: some of their favorite sounds can only be heard at the ballpark—the smooth, satisfying pop of a catcher’s glove as a pitch hits its mark; the crack of a bat as it tears into a fastball, explosive and hopeful, drawing the crowd to their feet. Our list, a roundup of outstanding baseball audiobooks, offers a glimmer of that same ballpark magic with just a few of the greatest stories from our national pastime.

What listeners say about Play Hungry

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

A must for any true baseball fan.

I grew up watching Pete play, and tried my darndest to emulate him on the field right down to the crouch at the plate and the head first slide. This book gives you a great first person look at his career, good and bad, and incite into his mindset and determination to succeed and most importantly, win! This is definitely a must read for any true baseball fan whether a Rose fan or not.

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Great book!

Thoroughly enjoyed listening to this book. Loved hearing about Peres backstory and how he came up.

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Great Book

I should start by saying I’m a huge Rose fan. This book was great because Pete talks about his early years and how he got to see the game the way he did. There is much more to Rose than betting on baseball and it’s great to hear his take on the way the game is played today.

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The history behind the hustle!

A great look into the player they called Charlie Hustle and what drove him to garnish such a nickname. I’ve been a long tome fan but never knew the story of Pete. Especially the significant role his father played in becoming who is was. To those wondering.. yes he talks straight up about his lifetime ban. He wasn’t perfect and he admits that. But after reading this you’ll have no question about how much Pete did, and still does LOVE the game of baseball and playing it the way it should be played... with HUSTLE!

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Not Bad - Worth Listening to

Over-all I liked this book. However, at times I wasn't sure if this book was about Pete Rose or his dad. The story seems to hit all the highlights but just glosses over the gambling. The book wraps up with Pete's take on todays baseball players and the state of the game, which I found disappointing. Obviously, the game is different from when he played, but so is every sport and well, everything else.

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Great Book

Pete Rose belongs in the Hall of Fame. he has paid his dues. The Epilougue is a great ending to a great story.

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Great story about Fatherhood and Baseball

I dare you to listen to Pete Rose describe breaking the all time hits record while he imagines his father watching from the stands and not bawl like a baby. Great book by a LEGENDARY player. Put him in the HOF!

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Great book!!

Life story, game by game, play by play of the player with such passion for the game!!!

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very smartly written, and welcome.

A lot of insight into the game. Pete is a very smart man. I have more respect for him after reading.

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Great Pete Rose Book

I grew up watching Pete Rose and was a huge fan. This book have me an even greater insight to the ball player I loved watching. I highly recommend this book of you are a Pete Rose fan or have a child playing sports. Have your child read it.