CINCINNATI -- Just before his ninth-inning at-bat against the Pirates on Monday, first baseman Joey Votto exchanged brief pleasantries with a person wearing a camouflage-colored Reds cap in the third row behind home plate.
It wasn't just any fan, however. It was Reds great and all-time hits leader Pete Rose. Votto then connected on a 2-0 Bryan Morris pitch for a solo home run to left field. Upon touching home plate, he looked in Rose's direction.
"After the at-bat, he gave me a thumbs up, and I pointed to him and gave a thumbs up back," Votto said Tuesday.
Although banned from working or participating in baseball since 1989 for betting on games as Reds manager, Rose can still attend Major League games if he has a ticket.
Votto, who has long been a student of hitting, has gotten to know Rose a little bit over recent years. He has plenty of respect for the former player who has 4,256 career hits.
"More than anything, even when I didn't know him personally, I knew him because of his reputation in Cincinnati because how well people speak of him," Votto said. "I wouldn't be the player I am today without the examples set by the generations before me and the generations before them. I'm grateful for the Pirates, because they make us better and the same thing goes for the generations before. We are where we are because of the people surrounding us and the people that preceded us."
Mark Sheldon is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Mark My Word, and follow him on Twitter @m_sheldon. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.