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October 24, 1999

Warren Greene

Pete Rose


PETE ROSE: First of all, I guess I want to thank the fans for giving me the opportunity to be here in Atlanta today. It's quite an honor. It's something you never think is possible of happening, just like it's an honor to make the Big Leagues. Then all of a sudden you play in the Big Leagues, things start to fall in the right way. I watched the game last night, and I hope it's a long series, because that's the best thing for baseball. This is our fall classic. I'm not rooting for the Yankees or I'm not rooting for the Braves, unlike my son. You can tell who he's rooting for. It's just fun to be back at the ballpark.

Q. Do you think your being here represents any kind of change in your relationship with Major League Baseball or their relationship with you?

PETE ROSE: Well, I guess as far as answering that question, I'm just very happy that they allowed me to be on the ballot and the fans did the rest. That makes me happy because whenever you're an athlete and if you're going good or going bad, the fans have a voice. And the reason I'm here tonight is because of the fans voting for me. I was happy I was put in the outfield. I think that was the right spot for me to be, because that's where I did win my Gold Gloves, and I did win my batting titles. No World Series out there, but most of those were third base and first base. And I wouldn't want to battle Mike Schmidt anyway, he's one of my best friends. I can't answer that question. You have to answer the Lords to be. I can't speak for anybody except myself.

Q. You said you were never confronted with evidence. Yet you never answered the question about the fingerprints on the betting slips.

PETE ROSE: I haven't seen them. Bring them to me and show them to me. I'm not here to talk about something that happened years ago. This is 1999, getting ready to go into the 21st Century. We're here for a festive situation tonight. Wouldn't it be nice if Bart could be here tonight? Wouldn't it be nice if Babe Ruth could be here tonight, Ty Cobb, Mickey Mantle, Joe DiMaggio? You know, if I had my wish, they'd all be here.

Q. If you could say anything to Bart if he were here tonight, what would you say to him?

PETE ROSE: You're going to find this hard to believe. I got along with Bart. Maybe not as well as Bud got along with him. But Bart and I had many conferences when he was National League President, and he asked me for some advice about the game of baseball. Bart and I had common things. We both loved the game. We both cared about the game. The only difference is I loved the game a hell of a lot longer and I cared about the game a lot longer because I was in the game a lot longer. And I seriously believe that if Bart would have lived, and we all wish he would have, that I believe he would have given me a second chance. That's the kind of man he was. That's my own personal opinion.

Q. If tonight is the only exception that baseball ever makes for you as far as letting you back in the game, would tonight be enough?

PETE ROSE: You know, I don't worry about that. I don't really think about that. I got two young kids and I have to support them, and I continuously talk up the game. I continuously watch the game. I just watch it a lot more in California now than I do in Cincinnati, and I am a very optimistic person. That's why I was a good player. I believe in things. I just think somewhere down the line somebody's going to give me a second chance. I won't need a third. We all know that baseball has the tendency to give people more than one chance. I know the whole situation. They're ticklish about gambling, I know that as well as anybody. More than anybody, I guess.

Q. Have you met with Bud Selig today, or do you have any plans to meet with Bud Selig?

PETE ROSE: People are probably going to find this hard to believe, I have never met Bud Selig or never talked to Bud Selig. I might arm wrestle him when I see him. (Laughter.)

Q. Will you try to get together with him tonight?

PETE ROSE: I don't know if we'll get together. I don't think this is really the right time. If I see him, I'm certainly going to thank him for giving me an opportunity to be here, because the ball was in his court, and he didn't double dribble.

Q. Many of the same fans who voted for you today also wish they could vote to have you reinstated. What do you say to them?

PETE ROSE: Well, I thank them. Because, you know, I don't mean to downgrade the Hall of Fame, because that's the ultimate for a baseball player, to go to the Hall of Fame. And most of my friends are there, a lot of my teammates are there. But I would only like to be reinstated because I'm a baseball person. When I was his size, I was a baseball player. When I was 45 years old, I was a baseball player. I'm a teacher. I'm a lover of the game. You can't convince me that there's not several organizations in the Major Leagues today that I can't help turn around. That's why I want to be reinstated. And if you want to say that's me missing the game of baseball, I miss teaching the game of baseball. I mean I'll take an interest in Paul O'Neill tonight; I brought him up. Keith Lockhart, I brought him up. There's still a lot of my players out there playing in the Big Leagues and they're all fundamentally sound because we took time to teach them the right way to play the game of baseball. I don't think a lot of organizations are doing that today. I don't know if that's because of the size of the contracts they don't have money to put into Minor League organizations or the instructors, I don't know what that might be. Most of the people in this room are like me; they understand the game of baseball. When it's poorly played, the average fan doesn't understand that. I was kind of a purist when I played the game of baseball. I hate to see a guy walk off of second thinking there's a guy on first when it's a 3-2, walk or a guy not going to second when there's a wild pitch on strike three. That's just getting your players to be alert to the situation. I mean this is -- the two best teams in baseball are here tonight. It's no secret why they're here; because they're the two best teams and they're both fundamentally sound. I don't know if it's the managers; they're both great managers. The organizations; they're both great organizations. The coaches; they both got great coaching staffs, or if it's the personnel. Probably a little bit of everything. So I think there's too many organizations in baseball that they don't need a personnel change as much as they need an attitude change. And I think in 1984 when I went back to Cincinnati as player manager, that's the first thing I had to do even though the Big Red Machine was there in the '70s. You were there. The team, in '83, in '84 and '82 was in last place. That filters right up in the stands. And when an attitude change is in any sports franchise, whether it's basketball, football, hockey or whatever, baseball, it's tough to turn it around. It's tough to turn an attitude around. That was my first goal when I went back in 1984. Obviously Cincinnati doesn't need that now. You can think of some teams that do, and I can. It's sad, see all these guys make all this money and appear that they don't care if they win or lose. I know they care, and I wish they would show us they care, and a lot of them do. I'm not really criticizing the players, because it's not always their fault. Sometimes us fans are at fault because if you don't let the players know you care, they'll continue to linger, doing the same things over and over again, whether bad, good or indifferent.

Q. Do you think "Shoeless" Joe Jackson's name should have been included on the ballot?

PETE ROSE: It was.

Q. It was? I never saw the ballot.

PETE ROSE: I didn't vote either. I don't know a darn thing about "Shoeless" Joe Jackson, I saw the movie, I read about him. All I know about "Shoeless" Joe, I don't know if it's a similar case or not, I don't think so. Just like the Strawberry case is not similar to me. Or the Goodens or Steve Howes or George Steinbrenners or Leon Durhams, if you want to go back a few years. Everyone is a different case. From everything that's been told to me, "Shoeless" Joe Jackson was a good baseball player. I don't know what he did do or didn't do. I could care less. Sometimes I kind of chuckle when I read in the paper that we're going to review this Joe Jackson case. How in the hell are you going to review something that happened 80 years ago? Who are they going to interview? I mean it's a tough situation. I hope they don't wait till the year 2006 to review my case. (Laughter.) I don't think too many of us in this room's going to be around. Although Furman, you probably will be. (Laughter.)

Q. If you are reinstated, do you think there's a team that would take a chance on you and give you a job?

PETE ROSE: I don't even think that's a valid question. No. Hey, there's many, many teams that give other guys second chances. Hey, man, just analyze why I played the game, the way I taught the game, the passion I have for the game. Would you give me a chance? You have to think about it. I'm glad you're not an owner of a baseball team. You wouldn't let me work for your paper?

Q. Sure. Not my job. If you are reinstated --

PETE ROSE: Only if the team wanted to win is the only reason they'd hire me.

Q. If you are reinstated and get into the Hall of Fame, how should the plaque read?

PETE ROSE: Well, first of all, it would be as long as this table here. You know, I never worried about that. I never worry about what people are going to remember you for because there's so many darn different things people can remember me for. But if you want to remember me for one thing other than being suspended from baseball, that I won -- I played in more winning games than anybody in the history of sports. That's getting back to what I was talking about, about turning the attitude around. You know, I have guys like Bench and Perez and Morgan and Schmidt and Seaver, all Hall of Famers or should-be Hall of Famers, and they help me develop a winning attitude that when I went to the ballpark, I thought I was going to win. And until you play a Big League sport, you don't understand there is a difference in winning and losing, and you don't like to preach that to youngsters, but there is a difference. And don't tell me if any of you have youngsters, you don't feel better on your way home when your kid got a couple hits and won the game. You feel better, he feels better, the wife feels better that's going to dry clean or wash the uniform. Everybody feels better. Big Leaguers are the same as this youngster right here. They're the same way. They're just grown ups playing a kid's game. Wouldn't it be nice to be able to play in tonight's game? I mean I'd like to take a couple swings. I was at a 3,000 Hit Show over the weekend, you all know about it. There were some pretty good athletes at that show. Three of them are here tonight, Stan Musial, Willie Mays and Hank Aaron. So many people told me congratulations and good luck. I didn't look at the paper. I thought I was pitching against the Yankees tonight. That's just the way they made me feel. I just hope we have a real good game tonight and that the Braves win, because I want it to be a long series. I wish the World Series was 25 games and we could play baseball all the way up to Thanksgiving. I do. Because, you know, I was born in the baseball capitol of the world, I think. And the better the World Series, the better it is for the year 2000.

Q. Can you just explain why you couldn't come to the press conference today and do you find it odd of where you were?

PETE ROSE: No, it's not odd at all. Let me explain the whole situation. I was in Atlantic City. Like I said, there were 14 other players there. We signed to do this card show, it's called a 3,000 Hit Show. Obviously you can't have a 3,000 Hit Show if I'm not there. (Laughter.) Right? And we signed six months ago to do this, and my day was Sunday along with Dave Winfield. Stan Musial signed next to me this morning. The only difference was he signed yesterday so he could take a jet out at 10 o'clock. I had to wait until 1 o'clock. I didn't pick Atlantic City for the event. I didn't get in until late last night and signed today, I left right after I signed. So if it had been in Detroit, you wouldn't have said anything. Don't forget, there was 14 other players there. And they were all Hall of Famers. If they weren't Hall of Famers, they're all going to the Hall of Fame. I was sitting right in between -- I mean my eyes are hurting from sitting in between Boggs and Gwynn today, with all those Silver guys. One has eight, the other has five. You throw mine together, there's 16 batting titles sitting there. That's a lot of history in the game of baseball. If you're going to criticize me for being in Atlantic City, criticize Steve Histler, that's the guy who had the show.

Q. Is this the first time you've been in a Major League park since the suspension?

PETE ROSE: No, not at all, Dave. I've been to games in Cincinnati. Let me tell you something, and I was telling the security guys on the way over, you know, I could take my son to Dodger Stadium every night if he wanted to go to the game. But it's not worth it to me to -- I drive so many people crazy. I mean when I go to the game, they're paranoid about me being at the game. When I went to see my son play in Cincinnati, you pull up, you get out of the park here, can you park here, can you go into this entrance, can you sit here, can you buy a hot dog, a Diet Coke. They're all scared they're going to lose their jobs. I feel sorry for them. They're petrified, actually shaking. I don't want to put anybody through that. Plus I got big TV screens at home, I can watch them all the time. It's just a -- you just don't want to make anybody uneasy. You know, when I was a player, I got along with the people who are the ushers, were the ushers, the ticket-takers, the guards down there at the parking lot. I got along with those people. I was the type of guy that got along with those people. I didn't ignore those people because I understood how important they all were, and how, you know, how important they all thought their job was. And it drives you crazy, to think you're scaring these people. They don't want you to come through their gate because they're scared you weren't supposed to come through that gate. When I went to see my son start for the Reds on Labor Day a couple years ago, I sat next to Marge, and that's the first time in my life I ever bought four tickets to a baseball game. I had -- they made me, I had to buy the tickets. I had to buy the tickets the next night to sit up in her box. I was always on the pass list. My son couldn't leave me passes. I mean Charles Manson gets a hearing every year, doesn't he? (Laughter.) This kid thinks his dad's a monster.

Q. Pete, today Johnny Bench said if it takes saying you're sorry, he wished you would get on with it so you could be where you belong.

PETE ROSE: I'm glad he said that. That's a little change of tune. Let me explain something to you. I mean I don't know if you watched my resume or know anything about my MO, but I have -- I don't know how many radio shows I've done in the last ten years, how many TV shows I've done in the last ten years, how many news media I talked to. Everybody is not going to hear me say, "I'm sorry." Do you honestly think I wish this -- I'm glad this happened? I mean do you really think that? Does Johnny really think that? I mean, I would do anything in my power to change what has happened to me in the last ten years. I would. But I can't change what has happened. You know how I feel. You know I'm sorry. I mean, I guess maybe when I got the hit to break Cobb's record, I shouldn't have cried at first base because no one thinks I'm sorry unless I cry. I got feelings like everybody else has feelings, obviously. If anybody in this group doesn't think I'm sorry for what happened, and I must tell you this, that I'm sitting here looking at a lot of friends out there. I can't think of anybody I'm looking at that I hurt. Unless I turn this way.

Q. Pete, your application for reinstatement, as far as I know, has never gotten a formal response. Why haven't you pushed it harder? Why haven't you sued?

PETE ROSE: First of all, Tim, you're right about that. And that's kind of -- I don't want to say depressing -- but I don't quite understand it. And while I sit here, I'm never going to bash baseball. You know for seven or eight years I didn't apply for reinstatement because I knew Fay Vincent wasn't going to give me benefit of the doubt, Bud was part-time Commissioner. We waited for him to be named Commissioner before we applied, and I think it's two years on Halloween. Rich, something like that? Rich said two weeks, okay. And I don't like -- I really don't like to turn the TV on or listen to radio or read it in print, what Bud feels. I mean I've corresponded with him more than once, and that's kind of disappointing because you watched me. I mean I gave my all to the game. I mean, you may think I'm crazy, but I think today I'm the best ambassador baseball has. I mean I'll be talking about baseball tomorrow in Florida, Wednesday in Chicago, Saturday back in Florida, Sunday in Los Angeles, because my name is kind of synonymous with the game of baseball. And I don't bad-mouth the game. I mean the players are great. The owners are great. The fans are great. Let's have a show. Let's have a good show. I'm one of those players that when I played, I cared about the fans when they got up and left. I thought that there should be an ass on every seat on every night. And it's amazing to me how some teams do it right. We're right in one ballpark that does it right. Cleveland does it right. Baltimore does it right. Arizona does it right. Colorado does it right. You know Texas does it right. There's a lot of teams that do it right and there's a lot of teams that do it wrong. I don't want to hear all this stuff that you got to be a big market to compete. You don't have to be a big market to compete. I was on the Big Red Machine. When was Cincinnati a big market? You have a million people in that town, but they went to the ballpark every night because we gave them a reason to come back. I'm in the restaurant business. You got bad food, they won't come back. You got to get them in, keep them in. You got to keep them in. You got to get them to put your deal in part of their day. That's what fans are all about. Hell, we didn't have fans, what would be the sense of any of us being here tonight? We wouldn't even need Rich if we didn't have fans.

Q. Would you be willing, as a condition of the reinstatement for Major League Baseball, to divulge the document that you signed and have a follow-up?

PETE ROSE: What was that, Rich?

Q. Would you be willing, as a condition of being reinstated to baseball, that Major League Baseball divulge to the media the document that you signed?

PETE ROSE: I think that document's been put on record.

RICHARD LEVIN: That's been made public.

PETE ROSE: Maybe I screwed up, but there's one thing about the document that, you know, I hear writers occasionally say, "Well, he signed it, permanently suspended, lifetime suspension." Well, in my mind, I didn't. Because if any of us were at the press conference, I think some of you were at my press conference, his little sister was born two days before that, and the last thing I said at that press conference is, "I can't wait for my little girl to be a year old so I can apply for reinstatement." There's a clause that says I can apply after one year. So when I saw that clause, I didn't look at it as a lifetime suspension. And maybe I'm reading it wrong, but that's the way I read the agreement.

Q. What kind of reception are you expecting from the crowd tonight? If it's overwhelmingly positive, do you think baseball can turn a deaf ear to that?

PETE ROSE: No. You know, I would think Atlanta fans, being great fans and Atlanta being the number-one team that I played against as far as my record, I had my highest average against the Atlanta Braves, but I must tell you, it wasn't Maddux and Glavine and Smoltz and those guys. I can remember we could come in here, seven hits in three games, you had a bad series. (Laughter.) You have to remember, Phil Niekro pitched here. I got 77 hits off of him. I got 30-some off of his brother, why couldn't his mother have quintuplets, I would have had -- (Laughter.) See, it's just like when I broke the record. I hate to keep referring to the record, but the record was so unusual because I got a kick out of some of the writers this year, I'm talking about 1985, how you going to feel when you break the record? You don't know how you're going to feel. Because you don't know what the response of the people is going to be. I mean what happens if 50,000 people boo tonight? What happens if 50,000 of them clap? I mean, I know it won't be the same as when I broke the record because the whole program of all the players is only 15 minutes and I got a 9-minute standing ovation in Cincinnati. Until you go through that, you really can't describe it. Because to me, at first base, September 11th, 1985, was like a Hall of Fame induction. Because, let me explain. This is experience talking. I would think that when you go to a Hall of Fame induction, and I never went to one, and the people start clapping for you when you're introduced, it's okay for the first minute or so. Then it's okay for the second minute or so. In my case, it was okay six or seven minutes, then they come out, they took the base, the players left the field, Marge gave me a Corvette, she drove that off. I don't know why the hell she gave me a Corvette in the first inning in a ballpark. And then what do you do? You start thinking about why you're there and who's responsible for you being there. And in my case, my father was gone; my high school coach was gone; my Uncle Buddie, who signed me to a professional coach, was gone; Phil Segui who gave me a chance with the Reds was gone. All the people who were instrumental in me becoming the player that I was are gone. And that's what brings the tears to your eyes. And what people didn't realize in Cincinnati that night, I don't know if they have since then, but that they really saw three generations of Pete Rose within nine minutes. They saw me get the hit, they saw me caress my son when he came out, and they saw me acknowledge my father after the eight or nine minutes. I was scared to look up, because I know him and Cobb are getting ready to get into a fight. So I had to just go on to the next thing. You know, that was the only time in my baseball life that I was on a field and didn't know what to do.

Q. How long have you known about this day, and what were your feelings during that time frame leading up to today? What's gone on today, for you, and what do you expect to happen the rest of the way? How has today been?

PETE ROSE: Today's been hectic for me. I had to start signing autographs 8 o'clock this morning in Atlantic City so I could get out of there by 1, 12:30. He's been in charge of everything, as far as --

Q. How long have you known about today? How long have you known about today?

PETE ROSE: I think the Baseball Commissioner's Office contacted Warren about two weeks ago?

WARREN GREENE: Yeah, about two weeks.

PETE ROSE: Two weeks ago. I was following the balloting. I could see that every week I was gaining five or ten, you know, you hate to say you're gaining 5 or 10,000 on Stan Musial and Roberto Clemente, those are pretty good baseball players. You kind of get goose bumps when you go to the outfield. Who's on the outfield? Ruth, Cobb, Aaron, Mays, Mantle, Williams, Griffey, and you throw Rose in there. And you could throw so many more in there. I mean all the Hall of Famers. Kaline, Robinson, Clemente, Musial, Reggie, I mean, you know, I can't say none of them don't deserve to be here. But they had to pick nine, and I'm going to be a little selfish. I'm happy I'm one of the nine. I'm happy I'm one of the nine.

Q. Have you considered the possibility that the Hall of Fame Committee might make you eligible for election to the Hall but at the same time the Commissioner might keep the ban intact?

PETE ROSE: No. I heard nothing that would indicate that to me, Bill. I don't know. I was at Cooperstown last month, playing a charitable golf tournament. And it's great. It's a beautiful town this time of year. But like I said before, any player that they even mention the fact they might go to the Hall of Fame --

Q. How would you feel about a split deal like that?

PETE ROSE: Well, I think I answered that question about 20 minutes ago when I told you why I would like to be reinstated. I hate to get back to this again, but, you know, I have a 10-year-old daughter and a 15-year-old son and he's got a size eleven shoe, hands down to his knees, he's going to eat a lot in the next ten years. That's another thing; that everybody always criticized me going to casinos. I mean, hey, I see the signs in the ballparks and casinos pay for appearances. And if I was in baseball, I wouldn't go to a casino. I wouldn't need to. I wouldn't have to. I wouldn't need the money. You know, most of the money I make, Bill, is appearances and restaurants. And I would like to -- I'm not sitting here bad-mouthing casinos because people have been very good to me. And I do a lot of casino appearances and never go to the casino, because if you know anything about me and you probably don't, I'm not a casino-type gambler. I like horse racing. I love horse racing. I was into horse racing. I'm going to start talking about gambling. I don't understand craps, I'm not a blackjack player, I'm not going to sit there and do that wheel and I'm sure as hell not going to pull a slot machine. Because you got to be 70 years old before you do that. I'm right around the corner, but I'm not there yet. Once again, Rich, thanks for giving me this opportunity. And thanks for your questions and thanks for your reporting on the game of baseball, because I read the papers and baseball's alive and well. A lot of good people are doing a lot of good things. A lot of good teams are doing a lot of good things. I would just say to you keep up the good work and God bless all of you. Thank you.

End of FastScripts….

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