LOS ANGELES (AP) — Pete Rose recently went to Cooperstown to film an episode of his upcoming reality television show. His fiancée got choked up when baseball's career hits leader had to watch the Parade of Legends and other Hall of Fame festivities as just another face in the crowd.
Rose doesn't share Kiana Kim's disappointment in his continued banishment from baseball, but he hopes he can provide a few lessons in patience to the rest of his sport's tarnished superstars.
"It doesn't matter how long it takes," Rose said Thursday over lunch in Sherman Oaks. "I'm in no hurry, unless you know something I don't know. You just have to try to be a productive citizen and live your life, and hopefully someday somebody calls you and says, 'Hey, we want to give you a second chance.' I won't need a third, and believe me, nobody is going to find me betting on baseball. What's that old cliché? I don't bet on baseball because I know too much about it."
The 71-year-old Rose, nattily attired in a tan hat and a colorful striped shirt with "Hit King" embroidered on the collar, says he's "a little sad" nobody was elected to the Hall of Fame on Wednesday.
Yet Rose sees both sides of the Hall debate: Although he's a friend of Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Sammy Sosa and every star of baseball's Steroids Era, Rose also says anything that artificially alters the game's statistics shouldn't be praised or honored.
And if a player linked to steroid use ever broke Rose's record of 4,256 hits, Charlie Hustle would object vehemently.
"I don't know who did what, and I really don't care," Rose said. "All I can tell you is if there's drugs involved, the most sacred thing in baseball is the stats. We've been taking stats since 1869 ... and whenever you do something that can alter the statistics of the game, it's not good for the game."
Rose wonders what Babe Ruth or Roger Maris would have to say about Bonds, Sosa and Mark McGwire being kept out of the Hall.
"Because those were the records that were assaulted, not mine," Rose said. "Not my record. If someone came up with 4,257 hits and was linked to steroids, I'd have a lot to say. If I'd have took steroids, I'd have got 5,000 hits, so it wouldn't have been fair."
Rose reserved his greatest praise for Craig Biggio and Mike Piazza, saying both players should have easily gained first-ballot Hall admission from their offensive statistics. Rose also stumped for Dave Parker and Jim Kaat.
"I think everybody got caught up in the steroid situation and forgot" about Biggio and Piazza, Rose said.
Rose treads more lightly around first-time nominees Bonds, Clemens and Sosa, warmly praising all three while still reserving full endorsement of their Hall worthiness.