The 1985 baseball season was nearing its end when the moment fans had been waiting for finally happened. Exactly 30 years ago Friday—on Sept. 11, 1985—in the first inning of the Cincinnati Reds win over the San Diego Padres, Pete Rose whacked his 4,192nd career hit, surpassing Ty Cobb’s career record.
As TIME noted, the new mark was set 57 years to the day after Cobb’s final major-league at bat (although there has since been debate over whether Cobb’s record was slightly inflated). Later, in reflecting on the achievement, Rose claimed to have seen Cobb’s ghost up in the stands.
In a cover story on Rose that August, TIME explained why the veteran star’s chase meant so much to fans:
Rose would go on to hit a total of 4,256 career hits—but his skill with the bat was eventually overshadowed. Before the decade was over, Rose was found to have gambled on major league games and was thus banned from baseball and its Hall of Fame. He recently applied for reinstatement, although reports of what appears to be further confirmation of his gambling may dampen the effort.
Read TIME’s August 1985 Pete Rose cover story, here in the TIME Vault: Play Ball!
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