1991 WCKY - Promo Photo

Although Pete Rose was banned from baseball, he wasn’t banned from talking about it, and in 1990 he talked about it a lot on the radio.  From the press release as reported by UPI  “Cincinnati radio station WCKY announced Friday it has hired Rose as a baseball commentator…Beginning March 19 and continuing through the World Series, Rose will broadcast baseball commentaries on the station at 7:20 a.m. and 4:52 p.m. Rose also will talk about baseball for an hour each Thursday, between 6 p.m. and 7 p.m., on the station.”

In 1990 I was an unabashed Pete Rose fan.  I was probably the last person who continued to believe that Pete Rose was railroaded for a few minor indiscretions.   As program director of WCKY Radio, I was excited when General Manager Tom Severino put together a deal to hire Pete to be our baseball commentator. Then I met him.

Coarse, vulgar, loud, rude.  He brought Carol (second wife) to our client party, wearing a blouse that showed off two of Carol’s better qualities.  Pete winked at Tom and I and said something like “That’ll get them buying commercials won’t it?”

Pete was good on the air and seemed to like it.  In “My Prison Without Bars”, Pete talked about being on the radio – “Throughout the show,  I tried my best to answer honestly and give the fans their money’s worth.  I got the strong impression the most of them were supportive and willing to  forgive and forget”. (I think a lot of people in that time were like me, waiting for the moment when Pete would be declared innocent of all charges.)   The radio show had a little momentum going for it that was killed as soon as the feds shipped him off to Marion, Illinois. (Did you know who grew up in Marion?  I didn’t!)  He came back for a little bit after he did the time, but it didn’t have the same vibe and Pete moved to Boca Raton soon after his sentence was complete.

Today’s news makes it appear that Pete’s dreams of being reinstated are being shattered… again.  I always had the thought that Pete and Bart Giamatti has cut some sort of “under the table” deal that gave the Commissioner the chance to look  “tough on crime” but would eventually allow him to reinstate Pete on some partial basis. Pete would become part of the broadcast team for the Reds, maybe not everyday, but he would end up as an “ambassador” for baseball and Cincinnati.  And a member of the HOF.    But then Bart died, suddenly and unexpectedly.  And when the players change so does the game.

Pete holds seventeen major league records, a few National League ones and his name and effort can never be erased from the two World Championships won by the Big Red Machine.   He is also the only living player on Major League Baseball’s “Permanently Ineligible” list.  And it appears MLB has no plans to grab the eraser.

11 Responses

  1. Dick

    “Course, vulgar, loud, rude.”
    God bless Peter Edward Rose!

  2. Ryan Lykins (@ryan_lykins)

    Great write up and a nice little history lesson for those of us too young to remember that he was on radio. Pete, at least to me, can come off like a jerk but man does the man know baseball. The few times I’ve seen him give interviews and talk about current Reds players have been a real treat. He’s extremely knowledgeable and knows the game of baseball so well. I haven’t had the chance to watch him on Fox but he’s definitely someone that had he not messed up and done the things he did he has all the tools to be involved in the game in some capacity. What a waste of knowledge. What a shame.

  3. vegastypo

    “I was probably the last person who continued to believe that Pete Rose was railroaded for a few minor indiscretions. ”

    No, maybe second to last … Nice write-up.

  4. Vanessa Galagnara

    Basebal needs Pete more than Pete needs baseball. Everyone who looks at the guy probably considers him Mr. Baseball. I could care less if he bet on ball games while playing or managing, I would say that his addiction to being a great ballplayer is the same addiction that hung him in gambling. Baseball made Pete and Pete made baseball. The two cannot be separated and baseball has lost its luster without him in the game.

    I never knew there were baseball fans in Cincinnati that despise the man. That is one big knock on their credibility sorry to say. I would gather that over half of the writers out there even here on Redlegnation are anti Pete Rose. Head scratcher. Writers in and out of the cincy area will also say they could care less about the impact of steroids, banning steroid users, etc… but mention Pete and you would think he ran away with their wives or something…. again a head scratcher.

    I know why they hate him. I get it. Let us hope that those same haters never are faced with needing forgiveness and shown the door with forgiveness never being an option.

    • Ryan Lykins (@ryan_lykins)

      I think maybe that the reason a lot of people have trouble backing Pete is because morally it feels weird. He’s a known liar and manipulator not to mention an addict so I think a lot of people have trouble putting their faith in someone like that. No matter what he’s done for baseball or Cincinnati he’s still a liar.

    • CP

      I’m sure Pete loves spending his days signing autographs for a living. Baseball is more popular than ever and needs Pete more than Pete (who desperately wants back in the club) needs baseball? No, I don’t think so.

      Most of us Cincy folks who don’t support Pete don’t despise Pete, we’re just tired of a liar/huckster using us to further his own goals. I don’t think the steroids argument you put forth is actually valid (I would actually argue the flip side of the argument-many of the Pete Rose supporters have taken the perverse position that Pete Rose deserves to make the HOF over the steroid-era guys, despite the fact that Pete Rose was caught cheating with a corked bat (and many of the steroid guys have next to zero actual evidence of steroid abuse).

      I have taken what I would call a pragmatic and ethically/morally consistent approach: I would let Pete and the steroid-era players in on the merits of their on-field performance alone. Everyone knows Pete’s shame, and every player in the steroid era should be suspected of steroid abuse. I think the sanctimonious position that sportswriters have taken is disingenuous at best.

      I will not, however, support Pete in any way in the process.

    • tct

      Well, here’s the thing Vanessa. To get forgiveness you have to own up to your crimes and show contrition. To obtain recovery, you first have to admit you have a problem. Pete hasn’t willingly done any of those things.

      But it really doesn’t matter.to me. I don’t hate or love Pete anymore. But what confuses me about the hardcore Pete supporters is that they act like he is getting so mistreated. A lot of the general public treats him like a God. He writes his books and goes on talk shows. He signs memorabilia. The only thing he can’t do is work in MLB. And that is as it should be.

      As for the Hall of Fame; it is a private entity and not run by MLB. They can keep him out if they want to. I don’t think they should, but they aren’t breaking any laws and it feels a little wrong to me to tell private businesses how they should run their business.

      • Vanessa Galagnara

        I dont think he is mistreated TCT but how long does a rapist stay in jail? on average about 8 years and yet whether they every apologize or not they get out and get to go work at their job again. Sure it will be harder but from a society standpoint they are forgiven. The baseball society in general has and never will forgive Pete because they feel like he was to good and to big to fail and yet he did.

        For me, my family (I inherited by love of baseball from my dad who passed away earlier this year) we grew up watching Pete Rose in his wonderful and in his stupid ways. My dad would pray to see the day that Pete was reinstated. Sadly he never made it that long and I am starting to doubt that I ever will.

        I’ll carry on my dad’s passions for the game.
        What my dad believed in in regards to baseball
        1. A walk is as good as a hit as long as the batter runs to first and knows how to take a lead off the base.
        2. There is no defense for speed. There is no defense for stupidity either. You get caught stealing because your stupid not because of how fast or slow you are.
        3. Left Field is where they put the player with the least amount of athletic ability. Why? They can stand out there all day and never see a fly ball come their way.
        4. One day there will be no starting pitchers. They will all be a bullpen by committee.

        Just a few there. I wrote them down in a book. He was a pretty funny guy until the Reds game came one. Then if yo spoke if was, “To your room.” without a little more sauce and ginger mixed into the words. And yes, he absolutely loved Pete Rose. I asked him why one day and he said watching him play made me feel like I could play.

        Next vacation I think I’ll go to Vegas and bet on some ball games for Pete’s sake.

        BTW doesn’t anyone here question the timing of the release of ESPN’s article? Yeah….

      • msanmoore

        ESPN is a marketing machine first. Second, they are the biggest supporters of the Washington Harpers. Their actual coverage of baseball falls somewhere below that line.

        I’ve often thought it will go to 6-man rotations and 30-man rosters at some point in the not-too-distant future. Complete pitching “by committee” is an interesting thought.

  5. msanmoore

    Pete is a very good baseball mind … but he’s an arrogant liar and a lousy gambler to boot (look at his recorded losses). He never bet the Reds to lose and then manipulated it to be so. He never let up … and he is one of the last “old-school” baseball guys I know of. There is very little middle ground, but you can’t deny his talent or dedication to the game.

    I’d accept him into the hall, but then again I recognize what scoundrels so many of them were anyway. I have a much harder time with the Roid Crowd, but in a conversation with somebody today, we both acknowledged that bunch will get in at some point as well, even if it is with asterisks beside everything.

    Pete doesn’t need the HoF … but the HoF may need him. It has his records and “stuff” already, but having him would complete the set.

    Nothing really new in this recent “news” as has been stated elsewhere. Pete will always be Pete – but the gods who run baseball will change with the wind as they have for so long.