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In Sports, There's No Such Thing As A Bad Hustle

Pete Rose swings for the Cincinnati Reds in the 1985 season. Rose, aka "Charlie Hustle," famously ran to first base even when he was given a walk.
Stephen Dunn
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Pete Rose swings for the Cincinnati Reds in the 1985 season. Rose, aka "Charlie Hustle," famously ran to first base even when he was given a walk.

Surely, "hustle" is the single most beloved word associated with sport. As color is to rainbows, as chocolate to the palate, as sweet nothings to love, hustle is to sport.

Hear it now:

Hustle up!
Hustle down the line!
Show us more hustle!

And oh, my, how often are you gonna hear this in the weeks ahead during March Madness: They gotta hustle back on defense. That, apparently, is the only way human beings can properly get back on defense.

You can never hustle too much — except perhaps for Pete Rose, who hustled with such ostentation in his salad days that he was derisively tagged "Charlie Hustle." But that soon became a badge of honor.

Just don't mess with hustle. Recently, Alabama coach Nick Saban, who has a very disciplined bunch of fat Southern boys who often win national titles, playing deliberately, tried to get a rule into college football that teams on offense shouldn't be allowed to hustle up the next play in less than 10 seconds. But the NCAA wouldn't even consider it. You can bet a chastened Nick Saban won't ever again be anti-hustle.

Click on the audio link above to hear more of Deford's take on the hustle.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Frank Deford died on Sunday, May 28, at his home in Florida. Remembrances of Frank's life and work can be found in All Things Considered, Morning Edition, and on NPR.org.
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