PHILADELPHIA CREAM — Pete Rose dismissed questions Sunday about his first on-court appearance in Philadelphia since the franchise scrapped 2017 plans to honor him due to a woman’s claim that she had a sexual relationship with the king of baseball when she was underage.
“That was 55 years ago, baby,” Rose told a baseball reporter for The Philadelphia Inquirer.
Rose, however, had no trouble reminiscing about the 1980 World Series champion Phillies team – that was 42 years ago, Pete – being honored ahead of Sunday’s game.
After initially being mildly booed, 81-year-old Rose received a standing ovation from Phillies fans – many of whom weren’t even born or too young to remember the king of baseball in his heyday – when he entered the grounds of Citizens Bank Park for the first time. since receiving a lifetime ban from Major League Baseball in August 1989.
“They made me feel really good today,” Rose said of the cheers. “I don’t want to say I expected it. I guess I expected it from the Philadelphia fans. That’s how they are. They love their sports heroes.”
Rose’s already blemished reputation suffered another blow in 2017 when the Phillies canceled a planned induction into the team’s Wall of Fame due to sexual misconduct charges against him. Rose abruptly answered the reporter’s question before the game – and later apologized to her after Sunday’s ceremony after initially saying, “Will you forgive me if I sign 1,000 baseballs for you?” – and was just as combative on the subject after the pre-match celebration.
“I’ll tell you one more time: I’m here for the Philadelphia fans, I’m here for my teammates, okay,” Rose said. “I’m here for the Philly organization and regardless of what happened 50 years ago.”
The woman, identified as Jane Doe in 2017, said Rose called her in 1973, when she was 14 or 15, and they began a sexual relationship in Cincinnati that lasted several years. She also alleged that Rose met her in places outside of Ohio for sex.
Rose’s attorney had said the woman’s claims were unverified.
Rose admitted in 2017 that he had a relationship with the woman, but said it started when she was 16. He also said they never had sex outside of Ohio.
At the time, Rose was in her thirties and was married with two children.
Rose was among many former Phillies greats – including Hall of Famer Steve Carlton and fellow World Series champions Bob Boone, Greg Luzinski and Larry Bowa – honored for the 1980 team. Mike Schmidt sent a videotaped message and missed the Alumni Day festivities because he tested positive for COVID-19.
“We’ve been doing it for a while, we come back every year, and mixing Pete up, I think, was very special,” Boone said. “When I go to (Cooperstown) I always thought he should be there. You can write anything there, but he was the greatest hitter in the league. Put his name and say that he did that, was punished for anything.”
Last month, the Phillies defended the decision to invite Rose to participate in the ceremony.
“During planning for the 1980 reunion, we consulted with Pete’s teammates regarding his inclusion,” the Phillies said in a statement. “Everyone wants Pete to be part of the festivities as there would be no trophy in 1980 without him. In addition, the club has received permission from the Commissioner’s Office to invite Pete as a member of the championship team.”
The original 1980 anniversary celebration was postponed for two seasons due to the pandemic.
A 17-time All-Star, Rose had 826 of his 4,256 hits during his five years playing for the Phillies from 1979 to 1983. There are no immediate plans for Rose to be inducted into the wall of Philadelphia fame.
“Everyone would love to be on the Wall of Fame,” Rose said. “I don’t know who made that decision, but God bless them. They did it for a reason. I’m here again today for the biggest event in a long time here in Philadelphia. I’m sitting here talking It’s up to you guys. Everything balances out.
Rose accepted the lifetime ban after an investigation for MLB by attorney John Dowd revealed that Rose placed numerous bets on the Cincinnati Reds to win from 1985 to 1987 while playing and managing the crew.
Rose has asked MLB to end his lifetime ban.
“He also did some things wrong and got in trouble because of it,” Boone said, “but he’s there.”
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