Exclusive Interview: Pete Rose

By G. Leon


Exclusive Interview: Pete Rose

GL: What have you been up to these days Pete? What's the average day for you like? "Well, first, I've just signed a five year deal with a company called Star Vibe 365, which is a company in Las Vegas. The company owns the three Field Of Dreams stores in Las Vegas and the Field Of Dreams store at the Mall of America in Minneapolis. The owner’s names are Joey Casey and Sam Battlestone. You may know Sam; he used to be the owner of the Utah Jazz. My obligation is, fifteen days a month going to the Forum Shops at the mall at Caesars and I sign autographs at the Field Of Dreams store."
GL: Obviously you'd probably be doing something different if your situation with baseball were different. How do you feel as baseball's all time hit king to, I don't want to say reduced to, but have to do things outside of the game when the game has always been your passion?
Pete Rose: "I would much prefer being the manager of a baseball team however, I did radio for seven years and to me this is one step above radio. What I do there is I sit there from 11:30-6:00 every day I'm there and it's usually weekends. Vegas is a very busy town, so I just talk baseball with fans, take pictures with kids, autographs balls for kids and spread good public relations.
"I think in the last three weeks people who have come by to say hello to me, A-Rod (Alex Rodriguez), Barry Bonds, Jason Schmidt, Rich Aurelia, Terrell Owens, Bob Shapiro, Ray Romano, Chris Rock, David Chapelle...I know I'm missing some, it seems like every celebrity, Ice-T came by the other day. And then there are thousands of fans. You don't have to get an autograph, and if you want to get a picture you can certainly get a picture. We have great items and we're killing them right now."
GL: And we're killing them right now on Boxingtalk, so it's only fitting that we're talking. Let's get into a juicy discussion. In boxing, it's common for fighters to bet on themselves to win a fight and they're not penalized for it. You've been punished by baseball for 18 years for betting on your team to win. Had you been a boxer and not a baseball player, perhaps you wouldn't have been punished so harshly.
Pete Rose: "Obviously what I did was wrong, but you have to understand one thing Greg, the legal paperwork, I was not suspended from baseball for betting on it. I was suspended and if you look at the paperwork it says that I never bet against my team. However, since the contract was signed back in 1989, I've admitted that I bet on baseball. I admitted that to Bud Selig. Betting on baseball is not the reason I was suspended on baseball. That sounds funny, but in the document that's the truth. I was suspended from baseball for being around undesirables and admitting that I bet with bookmakers. That's why in my case I don't think that the sentence fit the crime."
GL: What do you feel needs to be done to rectify this situation and do you think the situation will ever get rectified?
Pete Rose: "I'm having a hard time, and you follow sports obviously, I'm having the hardest time of anybody that's done anything on the negative side as far as getting a second chance. Guys who do steroids, drugs, alcohol, guys who commit armed robbery and worse get a second chance.
"I'm just looking for a second chance and it's just mind boggling to me that baseball hasn't even entertained the idea of giving me a second chance yet. I won't need a third.
"You've got to understand, I've been suspended, and this is going on 17 years. My daughter is driving a car now and I was suspended two days before she was born."
GL: You mentioned A-Rod and Bonds passing by to see you at the shop can't the player’s union step up to the plate with some formal petition...
Pete Rose: (cutting in) "I think 95% of the players would back me. I don't think it's a player’s union deal. Once the investigation first took place that's when the players union should have stepped in. They handled the whole deal like I was just a manager, for the years in question I was just a manager, I wasn't a player/manager. The years in question 1987 and 1988 and my last year as a player was 1986. You could get caught up in the book coming out, but have to understand that about twelve months before the book came out is when I spoke with Bud Selig in Milwaukee and told him everything that I did. I thanked him for giving me the opportunity to get the load off my shoulders. I can't honestly sit here and tell you that I would have admitted I bet on baseball in 1991 or 1992 if I was given the opportunity. I don't know the answer to that question and I'll never know. All I do know is the first time I got the opportunity to sit in front of the Commissioner; I told him everything that I did. I thought he was the guy to tell, not Bob Costas, not Jim Rome, not you, but Bud Selig. That's how long it took me to get a sit down with the Commissioner of baseball, from 1989-1999 or 2000. And the only reason I got an audience with him was when they had the All Century Team, I got the biggest ovation in Atlanta and then when they had the most memorable World Series moments in San Francisco I got the biggest ovation. Because of the fans reaction towards me, baseball decided, I do have some fans and maybe they should have a meeting with this guy and that's what they did."
GL: Earlier you mentioned Vegas is a busy town and there's no question about that. Las Vegas also happens to be the fight capitol of the world. Do you frequent the fights while you're there
Pete Rose: "I go to the fights, but I'm not a Casino gambler. I don't even stay at the Casino's. I have a time share at the Flamingo, because then people would say what's he doing at Casinos in Vegas, but I'll be honest with you, I wish they could follow me in Vegas. It would be a plus for me because I'm probably the only guy in Vegas not gambling. Whenever Dan (Goossen) puts on a fight, I go to the fights and I like going to the fights."
GL: Tell us why you feel a baseball franchise would be better served with Pete Rose as manager.
Pete Rose: "A lot of franchises would be better off because there's two things I bring to the table, and I don't mean to sound arrogant, but instead of leaving my future up to the press I think it's only fair to leave my future up to one of thirty guys who owns baseball teams. If you don't want to put people in the stands and you don't want to win don't call me. That's two things I could do, I could help a team win and I could put people in stands. To me that's the only two things a baseball team should concentrate on. Fight promoters or anybody in business, you want people to come to your events and you want to win, what else is there?"
GL: As a player you were able to utilize all of your ability and then some...
Pete Rose: (cutting in) "I worked hard to become the biggest winner in the history of sports."
GL: Do you feel you'd be able to instill that same desire you had as a player into the twenty first century athletes who make more in one year than some hall of famers did in their entire careers?
Pete Rose: "I don't worry about that. Just like I told you when we first started talking, why do you think guys like A-Rod and Barry Bonds come by to see me? They have respect for me because of what I accomplished and that's where I'm ahead of the game as a manager. There are too many teams in baseball today that their leaders didn't accomplish anything and it's hard to get people to listen. When I went back to the Reds in 1984 as a player/manager they had the worst record in baseball. I saw thirty four rookie players I brought up get their first hit and we finished second four straight years. If I was a basketball coach, they would have said he turned the program around. In 1983 the Cincinnati Reds had Johnny Bench night the last game of the season and 55,000 people showed up and that game was the only reason why Cincinnati outdrew Louisville that year. And that's horrendous because Louisville was a triple-A team."
GL: Had there been a wildcard back then you might have made the playoffs a couple of those seasons.
Pete Rose: "Absolutely. And we were drawing 2,500,000 people per year and now the Reds are back where they were in 1982 and 1983, they're getting 10,000 people per game. It drives me crazy when I turn on a Reds game and I see all these empty seats. Seats are for asses. That's what there there for, but if you turn on a Reds game in July or August it might be a great night to paint the seats.
"I know there's no way in the world I would ever make the same mistake. I bet on baseball 18 years ago, not 18 months ago or 18 days ago, but 18 years ago."
GL: Murderers have served less time.
Pete Rose: "Thank you.
GL: I also understand your Hall of Fame eligibility is running out. How do you feel about that?

Pete Rose: "There's another thing I don't quite understand and I'm not worried about that believe me."
GL: But being a Hall of Famer would help you with things like you're doing now in the shops.
Pete Rose: "I understand that and I'm not saying it's not good to be a Hall of Famer. At my age, and I'm still young for my age, so I would prefer to be on the field helping the game than getting voted to the Hall of Fame. I know what kind of player I was and the biggest thing you could have happen is going to the Hall of Fame, but I don't go to bed every night praying to get in to the Hall of Fame. I'm a public relation man for the game of baseball and I'm sitting up in Vegas in November, December, January, February and March representing the game of baseball. What I’m looking for is a second chance. If they give me a second chance I won’t need a third opportunity. I don’t know how to say it any better than that.”


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