“That was 55 years ago, baby.”

Pete Rose returned to Philadelphia on Sunday as part of a celebration of the 1980s Phillies The World Series team and deflected on whether his presence sends a negative message to women, given allegations that surfaced in 2017 that he had sex with an underage girl in the 1970s.

“No, I’m not here to talk about that,” Rose said when asked by a reporter for The inspector. “Sorry about that. It was 55 years ago, baby.

Rose, 81, was banned by Major League Baseball in 1989 for bet on baseball during his playing and managerial career. In 2017, testimony came out in federal court alleging he had a relationship with a girl in Cincinnati — called Jane Doe — who was under the age of consent when the relationship began. In an affidavit submitted by the woman in court documents, which were obtained by the ESPNshe said her relationship with Rose began in 1973 and continued for a few years.

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“Sometime after that, Pete Rose and I began meeting at a house in Cincinnati,” the woman’s statement read. “It was in this house where, before my 16th birthday, Pete Rose began a sexual relationship with me. This sexual relationship lasted several years. Pete Rose also met me in places outside of Ohio where we we had sex.

Rose said in court papers that he had sex with her, but believed she was 16 at the time. He added that their relationship “started in 1975”. Rose was 34 in 1975 and was married with two children. Because the the statute of limitations has passedRose could not be charged with statutory rape.

The testimony came out as part of a defamation lawsuit Rose filed against attorney John Dowd in 2017. Dowd led the MLB investigation in 1989 that led to Rose’s ban from baseball, but the libel suit centered on an interview Dowd gave in July 2015 on WCHE-AM 1520 in West Chester.

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In the interview, Dowd said an associate of Rose’s, Michael Bertolini, told him that Rose liked to have sex with underage girls.

“Michael Bertolini, you know, told us that he not only organized bets, but also led young girls for him in spring training, aged 12 to 14,” said said Dowd. “Isn’t that lovely?” So it’s statutory rape every time you do that.

Rose denied committing statutory rape, adding that Dowd’s remarks were “entirely false in every respect”.

Rose was released after the on-court ceremony on Sunday. Asked by The Associated Press about his comments to The Inquirer, he said: ‘I’ll tell you one more time. I’m here for the Philadelphia fans. I’m here for my teammates. I’m here for the Phillies organization. And who cares what happened 50 years ago? You weren’t even born. So you shouldn’t talk about it, because you weren’t born. If you don’t know anything about it, don’t talk about it.

A rep for Rose approached The Inquirer after the ceremony, insisting Rose had something more to say. The rep began to apologize on Rose’s behalf, adding that he wasn’t trying to offend anyone. Rose claimed The Inquirer was trying to “attack her”, before joking: “Will you forgive me if I sign 1,000 baseballs for you?” At the end of the conversation, Rose said “sorry”.

“The Association for Women in Sports Media applauds Philadelphia Inquirer reporter Alex Coffey and other members of the media for asking questions about the Phillies’ decision to honor Pete Rose despite previous claims he had a relationship. sex with underage girls,” AWSM said in a statement. “There is no limitation period for liability. Pete Rose is right about one thing he said today – it’s been 55 years since inappropriate relationships were reported, and times have changed. It is no longer acceptable to call a journalist “baby”.

Former Phillies wide receiver Bob Boone, who was a teammate of Rose on the winning 1980 World Series team, was the only other member of that team released after the ceremony. When asked if the testimony given about Rose in 2017 was a consideration in his teammates’ insistence on inviting him back, Boone replied “I have no idea.”

“My opinion was, I think he should be in the Hall of Fame,” Boone said. “He’s the best hitter we’ve ever had. And he did some things wrong. But I always thought he should be in the Hall of Fame. And if I take my kids there to see it, I want to see Pete Rose and tell him how awesome he was. If you want to put something on the board that says he did those things wrong, but I always thought he had to be there. He’s not in there, but I’m telling you, he’s the best hitter ever. »

Rose, baseball’s all-time leader with 4,256 hits, was presented before Sunday’s game to a mixture of cheers, boos and a few “Pete” chants.

The Phillies planned to induct Rose into their Wall of Fame in 2017, but abruptly canceled plans to do so after Jane Doe’s testimony was released. The Phillies said they decided to invite Rose to Citizens Bank Park this year after consulting with Rose’s teammates in 1980, who wanted him to be included in the ceremony. They received approval from the commissioner’s office to include Rose.

When asked what had changed since they decided against inducting Rose into the Wall of Fame, a Phillies spokesperson said the 1980 celebration was more about a team than an individual.

“Unlike the Wall of Fame award which honors an individual player, this weekend is a celebration and a team reunion,” the spokesperson said. “Pete was a leader of the team and an essential member of it. We agree with his teammates on the critical role that Pete played in 1980. In fact, if Pete had not been invited, he there would be a comparable outcry from the very many fans who think Pete belongs in the Baseball Hall of Fame.

When asked what the Phillies would say to people uncomfortable with his presence at the ballpark, given his relationship with an alleged minor in 1973, the spokesperson said:

“We do not condone, condone or overlook Pete’s behavior. We understand that some people will criticize our decision to include Pete. We understand the basis for this criticism because it is precisely this basis that led us to cancel immediate recognition of Pete on the Phillies Wall of Fame when the allegations were made public just six days before Pete’s scheduled induction.The Wall of Fame is a singularly personal honor, and for the Phillies, his past behavior off the field undermines his baseball accomplishments that would otherwise give rise to this award.

The Phillies spokesman said there are no plans at this time to add Rose to their Wall of Fame, but said that doesn’t mean they “never” will. The spokesperson added that they would consider bringing Rose back to Citizens Bank Park, if there was another celebration of a team Rose was on and MLB gave its approval. Rose also played for the National League champions Phillies in 1983.

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In a podcast with NBC Sports Philadelphia’s John Clark that aired Thursday, Rose was asked about the circumstances of her return to Citizens Bank Park.

“Three or four years ago [five years], I was supposed to get into the Phillies Wall of Fame and the Phillies canceled that and I’m glad whoever gave the OK gave the OK,” Rose said. “I won’t hurt anyone. I’ve made mistakes in my life, most people do. I’ve always loved Philadelphia fans.

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