Baseball gave Pete Rose the boot, but the player known as “Charlie Hustle” soon will be hitting a stage in The Villages.
“4192: An Evening With Pete Rose Live” comes to the Savannah Center on Oct. 6. Villager Rich Sobieray, who lived in Cincinnati, will be there to see the former Reds’ star and baseball’s all-time (regular season) hits leader with 4,192.
“Pete Rose belongs in the Hall of Fame,” Sobieray said. “He played the game the way it should be played – he gave everything he had on the field. His uniform was always dirty because he always hustled.”
Rose, 77, was a hustler in more ways than one. He was banned from Major League Baseball in 1989, charged with gambling on games while player/manager of the Reds.
In 1991, the Baseball Hall of Fame stated that Rose – who retired as a player in 1986 – was “permanently ineligible” for induction.
Rose, like “Shoeless” Joe Jackson of the 1919 Chicago White Sox, is a player whose stats should put him in the Hall. Rose played 24 seasons and holds Major League records for most hits, 4,256; singles, 3,215; games played 3,562; at bats, 14,053; and plate appearances, 15,890. Rose played on three World Series champions: the 1975-76 Reds, and the 1980 Philadelphia Phillies.
Rose won’t be singing or dancing at Savannah Center but showing film clips of his illustrious and controversial career. He also will be chatting with fans and spinning tales of his time in the game.
“I love hearing old-time baseball players tell stories,” said Sobieray, who met Rose nearly 30 years ago while attending a Reds’ fantasy camp in Florida.
“Pete’s a good guy; he would sit around and talk to people and sign autographs,” Sobieray said. “I like him and so do most of the fans in Cincinnati.”
Rose was inducted into the Cincinnati Reds Hall of Fame. But he seems too controversial for Major League Baseball. Sobieray admits that Rose often shoots himself in the foot when he starts talking.
“Pete can be his own worst enemy,” Sobieray said. “He’s like Donald Trump, and I like Donald Trump. But when Rose and Trump open their mouths, they get in trouble.”
Rose did just that at the recent Hall of Fame induction ceremonies in Cooperstown, N.Y., when he blasted the current state of Major League baseball.
“I’m going to argue with baseball until the day I die, that baseball is juiced,” Rose told USA today. “I don’t care what anybody says. They’ll say it’s not, which they have to. I saw a ball bounce behind the dugout the other day in Anaheim and it bounced into the second deck. Now, there’s something going on there.”
Rose added: “I’m not real happy when I watch baseball, fundamentally, the way it’s played. It seems like back in the ’70s and ’80s we worked on fundamentals. We spent a little more time in the minor leagues than they do today because there are 30 teams, and they’re going to hurry them to the big leagues.
“Too many guys just sit around waiting for that two-run, three-run home run. The teams that put the ball in play go to the World Series. Houston won the World Series, they put the ball in play a lot. Boston puts the ball in play a lot. That’s why I like Boston right now better than the Yankees.”
Rose also knocked baseball’s competitive balance: “There are a lot of good players out there. I don’t think there are a lot of really good teams. Let’s be honest. There are more bad teams than good teams.”
Time and attitudes have changed about gambling. The Supreme Court this year declared the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act unconstitutional. Now, all 50 states may launch legalized sports betting.
Major League Baseball will make a bundle on the sports book but shows no signs of letting Rose back in.
“The hypocrisy will remain,” Bill Speros wrote at Bostonherald.com. “Baseball will embrace a windfall thanks to legal sports betting but won’t allow Pete Rose into the Hall of Fame.”
Others who played during the “steroid” scandal days are luckier than Rose, Paul Daugherty wrote at Cincinnati.com.
“The game embraces its miscreants (Mark) McGwire (Alex Rodriguez) and Barry Bonds… It enshrines Gaylord Perry, a guy who admitted he threw spitballs and was gleeful about it, then had the hall-of-fame gall to say recently that Rose doesn’t belong.”
Baseball, Daugherty adds, may not forgive Rose until he’s dead, which “owes to Baseball’s weird definition of punishment and equally weird sense of nobility.”
Gerri Sobieray, like her husband, remembers watching Rose play. And that is her reason why he should be in the Hall of Fame.
“I love Pete Rose and the way he played,” she said. “He got a raw deal.”
She and her husband have more interests than baseball. They have lived in The Villages for 18 years. Back in 2010, they started a local chapter of USA Cares. The national organization helps military families and veterans in crisis.
The Villages chapter of USA Cares – which has around 50 volunteers – has raised $185,000 over the past eight years, Rich said.
“We have a soft spot in our hearts for USA Cares,” Gerri said.
“These veterans and their families deserve our help, and we will do whatever we can to help them,” Rich added. For information go to www.usacares.org.
Villager Tony Violanti is a correspondent for Villages-News.com.