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Associated Press

Pete Rose sues former baseball investigator over statutory rape claims

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Former baseball star Pete Rose on Wednesday sued the lawyer whose investigative report got him kicked out of baseball for gambling, alleging the lawyer defamed him last year by saying on the radio that Rose raped young teen girls during spring training.

Rose said in the federal lawsuit that John M. Dowd damaged his reputation and endorsement deals during a July 2015 interview on WCHE-AM in West Chester, Pennsylvania.

Dowd investigated Rose for Major League Baseball in 1989, leading the league’s all-time hits leader to be declared ineligible for the Hall of Fame.

The lawsuit states Dowd said during the radio appearance that Rose associate Michael Bertolini told investigators he “ran young girls” to Rose during spring training, which Dowd called “statutory rape every time.” Bertolini’s lawyers issued a categorical denial last summer.

“Rose never did any such thing and until the Dowd accusations, no one had ever claimed he did,” Rose’s lawyers wrote in the complaint. “What Dowd attributes to Bertolini is false: Bertolini states he never told Dowd any such thing.”

A man answering a phone listed for Dowd in Massachusetts did not identify himself, would not take a message and abruptly hung up on a reporter seeking comment.

A portion of Dowd’s 1989 report for Major League Baseball was headed, “Rose-Bertolini Betting.”

Rose, who lives in Las Vegas, had applied for reinstatement to the game last year and was about to appear at an All-Star Game in Cincinnati, where he coached and played, when Dowd said on Jim Rome’s radio show on June 23, 2015, that Rose “had Bertolini running young women down in Florida for his satisfaction,” the lawsuit said.

On July 13, Dowd was asked on WCHE-AM whether he found Rose to be a likable person.

“Michael Bertolini, you know, told us that he not only ran bets but he ran young girls for him down at spring training, ages 12 to 14,” Dowd responded last year. “Isn’t that lovely. So that’s statutory rape every time you do that.”

Dowd subsequently told NJ.com that he did not want to discuss the Bertolini allegation any longer, saying it had been blown out of proportion.

Pete Rose added to Reds’ Hall of Fame in long-awaited moment

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CINCINNATI — Pete Rose joked about his hair and his age. He reminisced about all those wins with the Big Red Machine. There was one thing that the hits king was determined not to do when he was inducted into the Cincinnati Reds’ Hall of Fame.

“I’ve already cried on the field one time,” Rose said on Saturday, referring to the time he got his record-setting hit. “That’s enough.”

The 75-year-old Rose kept his composure during a pregame ceremony honoring him as the 86th player to go into the team’s hall. Many of his former Big Red Machine teammates – Hall of Famers Johnny Bench and Tony Perez, among them – were on hand to join in the humor and the honor.

Also, to say a few nice things about the Cincinnati native known as Charlie Hustle who became the face of baseball’s first professional team in so many ways, with his gritty play and, later, his lifetime ban for betting on Reds games. His ban prevents him from getting into Cooperstown, but the Reds got permission to honor him in their own way.

“He’s the most dissatisfied person I’ve ever known,” Bench said. “Every day he was unhappy until he got four hits. He was never, ever happy with three hits. He wanted four.

“The greatness of this man was that he was never satisfied.”

Rose set baseball’s hits record with No. 4,192 at Riverfront Stadium in 1985 against the Padres, who also were the Reds’ opponent on Saturday. When he reached first base on his single, he wound up crying during a nine-minute ovation from the fans. As he was introduced at Great American Ball Park on Saturday, fans chanted, “Pete! Pete!” and gave him a one-minute ovation.

When he got to the podium, Rose used a towel to wipe the sweat from his forehead. He noted that he was allotted only five minutes to talk, when he could spend days recounting what the fans meant to him.

“I was hitting for you,” Rose said. “I was trying to score runs for you.”

Rose joked that he’s attended Hall of Fame inductions, but this was the first time he’d been invited to one. He told the fans that it was the “biggest thing that’s ever happened to me in baseball.”

Then he and Perez and Bench went onto the field. Perez threw a pitch from in front of the mound with Rose in the left-handed batter’s box and Bench behind the plate. The pitch was outside. Rose took it.

And then he got another ovation. The start of the game was delayed by six minutes because the ceremony went long.

Cincinnati natives Barry Larkin and Ron Oester also are in the team’s hall and recognized the specialness of being honored by the team they grew up admiring.

“Anytime you’re honored by getting inducted into the hall of anything, I think it’s wonderful,” said Larkin, who was inducted at Cooperstown in 2012. “But being inducted into a hall of fame for your hometown team, it’s personal.”

During a media availability that was streamed live on the Great American Ball Park videoboard and Major League Baseball’s website, Rose and his former teammates enjoyed the chance to trade barbs as well as compliments.

Bench said that by adding Rose to the team’s Hall of Fame, “It’s kind of complete.”

Rose wore a plaid shirt and a white Reds cap to the media availability and the on-field ceremony. He won’t get a red jacket like the ones that the other Reds Hall of Fame members wear until Sunday, when the Reds formally retire his No. 14 as well.

“It took 30 years and the size has changed over the years,” Rose said. “But I’m getting a red coat. I’m looking forward to getting a red coat.”

Video: Ichiro gets his 4,257th hit to pass Pete Rose

SAN DIEGO, CALIFORNIA - JUNE 14:  Ichiro Suzuki #51 of the Miami Marlins warms-up during batting practice before a baseball game against the San Diego Padres at PETCO Park on June 14, 2016 in San Diego, California.   (Photo by Denis Poroy/Getty Images)
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Marlins outfielder Ichiro Suzuki drilled a double down the right field line in the ninth inning of Wednesday afternoon’s game against the Padres. That is hit number 4,257 of Ichiro’s career, including his nine seasons in Japan and 16 in the U.S. Combined, he now has more hits than “hit king” Pete Rose.

As mentioned when Ichiro tied Rose in the first inning Wednesday, there’s debate over whether Ichiro’s performance in Japan should be combined with his hits in Major League Baseball. Personally, I don’t really care either way. I just think Ichiro is a fun player to watch and any opportunity to celebrate him as a player is worth taking. So, congratulations to Ichiro for surpassing Pete Rose on the all-time hits list.

Ichiro is also now at 2,979 hits in just the majors, leaving him 21 hits shy of becoming the 30th member of the 3,000 hit club.