In a touching interview with Jeremy Schaap of ESPN, Pete Rose spoke of the reasons why he gambled on baseball, acknowledging he made a terrible mistake when he gambled and also erred in signing away his future when he was suspended. Prompted by Schaap, he concluded with a plea to Bud Selig to let him back in the game for which he has such a passion.
The interview went like this:
Rose: I’m a baseball person. I’ve been playing baseball since I was nine years old. It’s all I know. Anybody’d want to make the Hall of Fame. I think I’m good for baseball in the respect that I help the young players. I make the young players better players. I make an organization better because of my attitude. There’s too many organizations today and too many players that aren’t fundamentally sound. You know who the bad organizations are. Why do some people sell out every game and other people get half the seats are empty every night? They don’t do it right.
Schaap: And yet you broke a cardinal rule…
Rose: I did. If you want to call it “Cardinal”… I broke your “Red” rule, not the “Cardinal” rule.
Schaap: How could someone who loved the game so much…
Rose: That’s a good question. I mean, there was just something missing, other than the game competition. It was a kind of personality I have, I had to do something else. What was the something else? Bet on my team to win, because it was like, I had 25 sons going out there and I had so much confidence in ’em. I knew I was going to win a lot more games than I lost, and I was absolutely right. And I would love to erase the whole past, but unfortunately I can’t. I just can’t do it. I wish I could. I wish I had never did it. You know, we all make mistakes, and I made a big mistake.
Rose told Schaap that when he initially agreed to leave baseball he didn’t think the ban would stay in place for life.
Schaap: Pretend I’m Bud Selig for a moment and give me your one-minute spiel.
Rose: Mr. Commissioner, thanks for meetin’ with me. I just want you to know that I’m very appreciative as a former player and a fan how you’ve handled the game, and I want to apologize to you for makin’ your job difficult because of the things I did. I was 100% wrong and I wish it hadn’t happened. But I wish some way in your heart you could find an opportunity to give me a chance, a second chance, because if you don’t, I’m still gonna sell baseball like no one else you have workin’ in the game of baseball. That’s just the way I am. That’s just my passion I have for the game. And whatever you do I understand, I accept, cause you’re the boss. And, you know, if that’s not enough, (with a grin), I’ll arm-wrestle you right now.
Schaap: In your heart of hearts, will you ever be back?
Rose: I’ve been led to believe that America is a forgiving country, and if you do the right things, keep your nose clean, be a good citizen, pay your taxes, do all the things you’re supposed to do, eventually you’ll get a second chance. And for anybody listenin’ out there that has a skeleton in the closet, get it out as quick as you possibly can, because as soon as you get it out the healin’ starts; the process starts.
Selig has said he remains open to Rose playing a role at next year’s All-Star game in Cincinnati. Should Rose’s entreaties continue to fall on deaf ears in Selig, he can start fresh with Rob Manfred, who starts as the new commissioner in January.