Peter Edward “Charlie Hustle” Rose, Jr.
The inglourious basterd of baseball.
Monday marks the 20th anniversary of baseball commissioner Bart Giamatti making Pete Rose both a major-league martyr and a scorned hero. Rose gambled, and lost, that he could convince those in charge that he deserved all the benefits, and benefits of the doubt, that come in a post-Hall of Fame career — just without the induction ceremony.
On Aug. 24, 1989, Rose didn’t rise to the occasion. The bloom came off with a loud boom. The all-time hit king, as he signs baseballs, managed to ruin his reputation and soil the game’s dignity while a Cincinnati Reds manager, betting on games according to a Giamatti investigation.
For 15 years, Rose denied it. In 2004, on the eve of the Hall of Fame induction ceremony, he came out with a book with a bright red cover called “My Prison Without Bars” and admitted, yes, he made some bets. Daily bets, in fact. On his team. To win. Isn’t that proof that he was committed to excellence?
(Think of it this way — every big-league team is going to win 50 games and lose 50 games. It’s what happens in the other 62 that can make someone rich. Or poor. Or break even).
ESPN plans an “Outside The Lines” perspective of this anniversary with a Sunday episode that focuses on how three people — Fay Vincent, Joe Morgan and Mike Schmidt – perceive Rose’s place in history, past, present and future.
“I think he’s been punished enough, 20 years is a long time,” says Morgan, Rose’ longtime teammate with the Reds and Phillies, since admitted to the Hall. “People go to jail, get out and get on with their lives.”
“That’s not the issue,” says Vincent, who succeeded Giamatti as commmissioner. “If you’re the commissioner, do you want to loosen the anti-gambling sanction and deterent? It’s not about Pete Rose, it’s about gambling in baseball … I do not think there is a chance in hell that Bud Selig will reinstate Pete Rose. I hope I’m right.”
If only Pete Rose had killed someone. Or taken drugs. Or … started a mission to the Dominican Republic each year to bring food and supplies to those in need.
There are frequent Rose sightings around Cooperstown every summer, where he finds a baseball jersey shop, sets up a card table, and scribbles autographs (for a price) to anyone who wants him closer to their heart.
He also sells stuff on his website (peterose.com). A baseball signed “I’m sorry I bet on baseball” goes for $279 (linked here). A long-sleve white T-shirt with a silk screen of his signature that says the same thing can be had (linked here) for $24.95. But sizes L, XL and XXL are sold out. There only available in sizes that women under 5-feet tall or kids who have no idea who he is could wear.
OK, we’ll take the gray hooded sweatshirt instead (linked here) for $45. What, no XL? Forget it.
There are so many contradictions on his site — kind of like him. You can also buy an autographed copy of a Rose Sports Illustrated cover — but it’s from 1988, when he got a 30-game suspension for shoving an umpire (linked here). Most collectors probably didn’t even remember that cover. Now they do. Now they may want it. And Pete can get it for them, for $175.
For the same price, there’s a 1999 SI cover (linked here) that has an excerpt from an interview of someone ratting him out. That’s something you want on your wall of fame?
Yes, right next to the deluxe framed 2004 SI cover (linked here) with the headline: “Pete Rose’s Confession,” which sells for $350.
Can he (or his handlers) get any dumber?
There are frequent Rose signings in, of all places, Las Vegas. He’s there every weekend and advertises this on his site (linked here). At the Forums Shopping Center at Caesars Palace. It’s in concert with “America’s Handicapper” Wayne Allyn Root’s “Winning Edge” TV show on Saturdays.
There are also frequent Rose signings around the San Fernando Valley. With his second family, Rose is the father of two recent Notre Dame High of Sherman Oaks graduates (one, an actress going by the name Chea Courtney). He has (or had) a $1 million condo on Chandler Blvd., in Sherman Oaks, which the IRS put a tax lien upon in ’04. There’s also reports that he’s in a 4,700-square foot, six-bed and five-bath home in the same area.
Does anyone really want to talk to Pete Rose these days? What’s to gain from it?
For the next 20 years, will there be a re-Pete performance — two more decades of a strange way of begging for forgiveness, followed by some stupid appearance somewhere the puts him in a bad light? Please, not a WWE cameo. Or a Home Shopping Network hawking.
Last time we tried to track him down, it was at least five years ago at, of all place, the Hollywood Park Casino. He was there for a big collectors’ show, signing balls and photos and bats and arms. He refused to be interviewed when we wanted to ask — why in the world, if you’re trying to get back in the game, are you at a gambling facility?
Last month, the New York Daily News ran a blind item, citing no sources, that Selig was “seriously considering” lifting Rose’s lifetime ban. Selig came out a day later vehemently denying that was the case.
Today’s USA Today tries to make a case that you, the fans, think steroid use is a far greater sin than gambling, so Rose’s current situation is ridiculous (linked here).
We’re actually going to try to do Pete Rose a favor — we’re not going to try to talk to him about this whole anniversary thing. The player who Sparky Anderson said was “the best thing that happened to the game since … the game” is best not grant any interviews this weekend. Lay low. Keep your cleat out of your mouth. Don’t inflame the situation.
Wanna bet that doesn’t happen?