It’s been more than 28 years since Pete Rose stepped into a batter’s box, but on Tuesday night, baseball’s hit king was part of a publicity stunt that would have, no doubt, made the late-Bill Veeck roll his eyes.
Rose was invited to take the field for the Florence Freedom and serve as base coach and, you guessed it, even stride up to the plate at the game’s leadoff hitter.
“Pete agreeing to step into the box and being announced as the leadoff man for the Freedom will be a goose bump moment,” said Freedom carnival barker General Manager Josh Anderson. “Fans, bring your cameras because you might not get a moment like this ever again.”
But, they did and, honestly, if I was within a stone’s throw of Florence, Kentucky…I probably would have done the same.
— patrick reddy (@patrickreddynky) September 3, 2014
Other events on the docket for Rose…meeting with fans, throwing out the first pitch and, for some reason, having his Number 14 retired by the unaffiliated Frontier League team. Oh, there was also talk of…you know what.
“I’ve taken responsibility for what I did, and (baseball commissioner Bud Selig) understands that and is willing to let me go on with my life,” Rose told reporters. ”I’m not (talking about it), you guys are. It’s just part of my everyday life. I just try to be optimistic, be a good citizen, work hard, pay (my taxes). I sell baseball 4½ hours a day, 20 days a month, just talking to fans, signing autographs. I don’t bad-mouth the game of baseball. I love the game of baseball.”
For the record, Florence retiring Rose’s number actually is kinda cool if you think about it. It’s the first time any team has honored him with such a ceremony.