“Horses. Horses. I need horses,” Ted Turner told all within listening distance last night at the Omni.
So began a Dec. 1, 1978 article from the AP chronicling the Braves’ pursuit of free agent, and avid horse racing fan, Pete Rose. Turner had just learned that Pirates owner John Galbreath’s pitch to Rose included a brood mare.
He wasn’t going to outspend the Braves’ owner. Rose’s agent had told the Mets his client had received offers “far in excess” of $2 million over three years and one “spectacular” offer.
“The spectacular offer, that’s me,” Turner told the AP. “Money is not going to be what decides it.”
It was horses.
“I want all Braves fans to find me 100 horses,” he said. “It used to be you could tell how rich an Indian was by how many horses he had. Since we’re the Braves, we want to show Rose we have more horses than anyone else. Every Brave fan, round up a horse so we can win Pete Rose.”
Instead the Phillies swooped in with a 4-year, $3.25 deal. Rose was about to turn 38, and after one productive year that saw him hit .331 with 20 SB and an .848 OPS, he began to show his age. By the time the contract ended he was essentially a glorified Ken Oberkfell.
That same year, Chris Chambliss. acquired prior to the 1980 season to play 1B, Rose’s position, hit 20 HR and 86 RBI for the NL West champion Braves.