Pete Rose took the field in Philly for the first time in a long time — which was quickly met with criticism after how he responded to questions about old allegations of statutory rape.
The controversial baseball legend — who’s been effectively banned from the game for life after it was discovered he gambled on matchups while playing — was trotted out Sunday at Citizens Bank Park, where the org was honoring the 1980 WS team … including himself.
He got a mixed bag response — a standing O and lots of cheers, but some boos too.
Mind you, this was supposed to happen a few years ago — but plans were scrapped after a woman claimed she’d had sex with PR while she was just 14 or 15 in the 1970s.
Rose admitted they had sex while on the Reds, but said he thought she was 16 — the legal age of consent in Ohio — and insisted they never left state lines … so, presumably, it was all kosher, from his POV. That story torpedoed his would-be ceremony in 2017 … but on Sunday, when it resumed, a reporter asked him about those allegations anew, and it didn’t go well.
Inquirer reporter Alex Coffey tweeted, “I asked Pete Rose what he would say to people who say his presence here sends a negative message to women. His response: ‘No, I’m not here to talk about that. Sorry about that. It was 55 years ago babe.’”
Of course, that got backlash almost immediately. Coffey further expanded, later saying Rose attempted to apologize to her for the earlier interaction … but that, too, was seemingly botched. PR reportedly said to her, “Will you forgive me if I sign 1000 baseballs for you?”
Coffey goes on to say that when he was again asked about the old rape claims and questions about it, he reportedly said … “I’m going to tell you one more time. I’m here for the Philly fans. I’m here for my teammates. I’m here for the Phillies organization. And who cares what happened 50 years ago.”
One last gem from Rose … “You weren’t even born. So you shouldn’t be talking about it, because you weren’t born. If you don’t know a damn thing about it, don’t talk about it.”
Safe to say — the debate about whether Rose should be welcomed back to the league (and to Cooperstown for a HOF induction) will almost certainly rage on after this. Oof …