Wild About Things

Scenes from Pete Rose Night

Pete Rose yells to the Wild Things' C.J. Beatty during the first inning Tuesday night. Rose coached first base in the first inning and third base during the second inning. Photo by The Associated Press.

There were many people at Consol Energy Night on Tuesday -- some wearing Cincinnati Reds or Philadelphia Phillies T-shirts -- who were thrilled to meet, shake hands with or take a photo with Pete Rose.

It's hard to believe any of those people were were more excited about baseball's all-time hits leader being at CEP than Wild Things manager Bob Bozzuto, who after Washington's 5-2 walk-off victory over Lake Erie was quick to praise Rose for talking to his team and offering hitting advice to some of the players.

"There was a lot of goodwill today. He spent a lot of time with the players. ... The man was fabulous," Bozzuto said. "The man was into the game. He wanted to know the signs. The guys saw his enthusiasm and it was huge for them. The man was phenomenal. It was something we'll never forget. If (people) were in our shoes, they wouldn't believe what they saw.

"Any time the different sports celebrities come in (to CEP), it's nice for the fans. But this, it was awesome. He was just great."

The one drawback to the night was the torrential downpour that hit about one hour before the 7:05 scheduled start time. The rain, no doubt, kept some fans away -- people don't like spending their Tuesday nights getting soaked at a ballpark no matter who else is there -- and caused a delay of more than one hour.

Read full post: Scenes from Pete Rose Night

Wild Things fans play 'Where's Pete?'

Pete Rose acknowledges fans as he takes the field for a ceremonial first at-bat before the Washington Wild Things' game against the Lake Erie Crushers Tuesday at Consol Energy Park.
Photo by The Associated Press.

Here is a column from today's Observer-Reporter by Dale Lolley about "Pete Rose Night" at Consol Energy Park:

All the Wild Things staff needed to do was put him in a red and white striped shirt and hat and they could have made a game out of the question that seemed to be the most prevalent at Tuesday night’s game at Consol Energy Park.
“Where’s Pete?”
You heard it again and again no matter where you were in the stadium prior to Washington’s Frontier League game against Lake Erie.
“Where’s Pete?”
The “Pete” in question was Pete Rose, Major League Baseball’s all-time hits leader and a man who has been the subject of perhaps more debates than the effects of the Affordable Care Act.
The Wild Things brought in other major league players over the years to meet with fans, most recently former Pirates World Series star Kent Tekulve.
But none of them brought the same kind of buzz as Rose, who played for Cincinnati, Philadelphia and Montreal in a career that spanned an amazing 24 years.
There wasn’t much debate among those who attended the game regarding Rose, now 74. These were people who were squarely in his corner.
“He was a great player,” said Washington’s Andy Wrubleski, who participated in a meet-and-greet with Rose at PONY Baseball headquarters prior to the game. “The gambling doesn’t have anything to do with the way he played ball, to me. I just remember him through the years. He was a great ballplayer. Stats are stats. He should be there.”
And there is the 500-pound gorilla that is always in the room when the subject is Rose.
You can’t talk about Rose without the discussion turning to his gambling on the game as a manager – which he admitted – and perhaps as a player, which he has denied.
ESPN released documents last week that allegedly proved Rose bet on baseball games while still a player.
Forget the record 4,256 career hits. Forget the 17 all-star appearances at five different positions. Forget the three World Series championships. Forget the intensity with which he played the game, earning the nickname, “Charlie Hustle.”
Forget the fact he was a player that thousands of kids emulated. They would get in the Rose batting crouch at the plate, uncoiling to attack the baseball, something Rose arguably did better than any player in major league history.
“My father raised me on two players, Pete Rose and Tony Gwynn,” said current Wild Things outfielder C.J. Beatty. “I can still hear him telling me when I had two strikes, choke up and get low in your stance like Pete Rose. The reasons I switch-hit is my father wanted me to hit like Pete Rose. I didn’t know who Pete Rose was, but when my father wanted to teach me something about hitting he would pull on video of Pete Rose.”
The fans here certainly weren’t about to forget any of that.
As Rose was introduced to a crowd made sparse by heavy rainstorms that moved through the area and forcing a one-hour delay, a fan loudly chanted, “Hall of Fame.”
After his agreement in 1989 to be permanently ineligible for any position in Major League Baseball, the Baseball Hall of Fame formally voted to ban those on the permanently ineligible list from induction. Previously, those players were excluded by informal agreement among voters.
The list isn’t a long one, but it includes Rose.
Tim Smith, 26, of Bridgeport, Ohio, made the 40-minute drive to attend Tuesday night’s meet-and-greet for the opportunity to talk to Rose.
“I think he should, statistically, be in the Hall of Fame. Obviously, the way that he played the game, I think he should be in,” Smith said. “Off the field, it’s a little bit blurry in my mind. But compared to today’s players, I think he should have an opportunity to be in the Hall of Fame.
“Maybe they should let him be in the Hall of Fame, but just not be involved with the game.”
Rose had a specific list of things he would not talk about with reporters, his ban from baseball among them.
But he did talk about his playing days against the great Pirates teams of the 1960s and ’70s.
He also gave a passionate speech to the Wild Things before the game.
“I was amazed at how down to earth he is. It was awesome,” said Wild Things outfielder Scott Kalamar. “I never saw him as a player. All I know is he’s one of the best baseball players ever, and to hear him talk about how he prepared was neat. How many people get to hear Pete Rose talk about baseball?”
On this night, pretty much everyone in the park got at least a snippet.
And Rose’s love of the game was evident.
“Abner Doubleday got it right when he invented the game of baseball,” said Rose, who still watches a number of games each day from his home in, irony of ironies, Las Vegas. “No matter how fast or how slow you are, you’re always out by a half step … if you’re running.”
Rose did plenty of running as a player. He earned his famous nickname for his all-out effort on the field. But there’s no doubt he’s a flawed man.
He didn’t show up Tuesday night out of the goodness of his heart. He made plenty of money. The Wild Things paid an appearance fee and fans were charged money for the meet-and-greet and each autograph he signed.
All of that can be overlooked. A guy has to make a buck, after all.
Unfortunately for him, one of his flaws got him banned from the game and, subsequently, from the Hall of Fame. He broke one of the cardinal rules of baseball.
If anything can be learned from Rose, it is the rules apply to everyone, even the game’s all-time hits leader.
And because of that, he’s relegated to being a sideshow act at independent league parks around the country.

F. Dale Lolley can be reached at dlolley@observer-reporter.com.Read full post: Wild Things fans play 'Where's Pete?'


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