major league baseballAll-time leader Pete Rose returned to the field in Philadelphia for the first time since receiving a lifetime ban from baseball in 1989.
The 81-year-old took part in the 1980 Philadelphia Phillies Championship team celebration at Citizens Bank Park on Sunday where he received a standing ovation.
The Phillies had planned to honor Rose in 2017 but chose not to after a woman alleged he had sex with her when she was under 16.
Prior to the game, Rose was asked by Philadelphia Inquirer writer Alex Coffey about the 2017 sexual assault allegations and whether her presence at the stadium sent a negative message to women.
“No, I’m not here to talk about that,” Rose replied. “Sorry about that. It was 55 years ago, baby.
Another reporter asked Rose again about the 2017 story and how it might affect how fans and women see it when it was made available to the media.
Rose said, “I’ll tell you one more time. I’m here for the Philadelphia fans. I’m here for my teammates, OK. I’m here for the Philly organization and it doesn’t matter 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.
The alleged assault was part of a defamation lawsuit filed by Rose against the attorney who investigated him on behalf of Major League Baseball for betting on baseball in the 1980s.
Rose filed a libel suit against attorney John Dowd in 2017 for allegedly having sex with underage girls.
In court papers, Rose admitted he had sex with the woman, but claimed he only did so in 1975, when she was 16, and playing for the Cincinnati Reds. The suit would later be rejected after the two parties reached an agreement. In Ohio, 16 is considered the age of consent.
Rose’s attorney called the woman’s claims unverified.
Coffey later wrote in his report: “Rose was released after the ceremony. Someone, possibly an agent, said they had something to say to me, but they didn’t seem to know they were expecting them to say anything. He asked me if he had offended me, and said ‘Will you forgive me if I sign you 1000 baseballs’ before saying ‘sorry’.
In a statement last month, the Phillies explained why Rose was invited to the festivities.
“When planning the 1980 reunion, we consulted with Pete’s teammates about his inclusion. Everyone wants Pete to be part of the festivities since there would be no trophy in 1980 without him. Additionally, the club received permission from the commissioner’s office to invite Pete as a member of the Championship team.
In five seasons with the Phillies, Rose had 826 of 4,256 hits.
Rose was banned from baseball in 1989 for betting on Reds games while playing/coaching the team. He was declared ineligible to be elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame.
For years, Rose denied betting on baseball and betting on her own team. In 2004, he admitted in his autobiography to betting on baseball while coaching the Reds. Three years later, he told ESPN Radio he bet on the Reds to win every night.