The Phillies are having their annual “Alumni Weekend” August 10-13. The focus of this year’s festivities was going to be Pete Rose — one of the heroes of the 1980 World Series championship team — who would be inducted to the Phillies’ Wall of Fame. The club was also going to hand out Pete Rose bobbleheads.
Not anymore. The Phillies just issued a press release saying that “due to recent events,” Rose and the Phillies have mutually agreed that Rose will not participate in Alumni Weekend and the bobblehead will not be given out. Rose said in the statement that he is “concerned that other matters will overshadow the goodwill associated with Alumni Weekend, and I agree not to participate.”
Those “other matters” and “recent events,” of course, refer to the revelation earlier this week that Rose was engaged in a sexual relationship with a teenage girl back in the 1970s. She claims, under oath, that she was 14 at the time the relationship began, which, then and now, constitutes statutory rape in Ohio. Rose claims that he believed she was 16 at the time which, in addition to not mattering legally — the perpetrator’s belief as to a minor’s age is irrelevant under Ohio law — is not all that much better when you realize that he was in his 30s at the time, married with two children.
Not that any of that was gonna make its way into the Phillies press release. Which, I presume, the Phillies wrote, Rose’s comments included, and informed him that that was how it was gonna go.
Which: good for the Phillies.
Last year Pete Rose filed a defamation lawsuit against John Dowd, the attorney who authored the investigative report which got Rose banned from baseball for gambling back in 1989. The alleged defamation occurred when Dowd, in a 2015 radio interview, said that Rose’s book maker, a man named Michael Bertolini, “ran young girls for [Rose] down at spring training, ages 12 to 14,” adding “Isn’t that lovely. So that’s statutory rape every time you do that.”
Rose’s suit alleged that the comment was false and defamatory. Bertolini likewise denied the allegation. The suit has progressed for the last year, with each side conducting discovery and filing competing preliminary motions. Today one of those motions contained a sworn statement from a woman who claims that she and Rose had a sexual relationship back in the 1970s when she was under 16. The document, first reported by ESPN, and which was filed in federal court, can be read in its entirely below. The relevant allegation from the woman is set forth in the motion thusly:
In Ohio — where both the woman and Rose lived at the time — the age of legal consent is 16, so her allegation amounts to statutory rape. Rose acknowledges the sexual relationship but says he believed it started when she was 16. It’s worth noting, however, that in Ohio (and in 21 other states) a person’s belief that someone who has not reached the age of consent is, in fact, old enough to consent does not constitute a legal defense to a statutory rape charge.
Rose cannot be charged with a crime as a result of this sworn statement, as the statue of limitations has passed. Criminal charges or not, all of this should present serious difficulties for his lawsuit. And, if the sworn statement is not somehow comprehensively refuted, it’s hard to imagine how Rose’s current employer — Fox Sports — could defend keeping him on the payroll.
Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times reports that the Baseball Hall of Fame has denied Pete Rose’s request to stand for election.
Rose had already been denied reinstatement by Major League Baseball. Theoretically, one can be banned from baseball and elected to the Hall of Fame, as they are separate institutions. Not long after Rose’s ban, however, the Hall of Fame changed its rules to prohibit any banned player from appearing on ballots. This move, most assumed, likely correctly, was aimed specifically at Rose. They may be separate institutions, but the Hall of Fame tends to land on all fours with MLB with most things and didn’t want to embarrass the league by giving Rose the honor of induction.
Not that Rose isn’t remembered by the Hall in some respects. As the article notes, there are plenty of Rose artifacts on display in the Hall of Fame. And Hall president Jeff Idelson notes, “[y]ou certainly can’t tell the history of baseball without including Pete Rose.” In this he’s like the PED-era guys who are defacto banned by the BBWAA yet still have their memorabilia on display and their feats chronicled in the museum.
As we’ve noted many, many times around here, if we were in charge, we’d keep Rose banned from baseball as he is utterly unrepentant about his very serious transgressions and has lied about them whenever it has served his interests, either personal or financial. While at 76 he’s not likely to be given a position of real responsibility in the game anymore, it’s not unreasonable to think that he’d be a bad influence if he’s allowed any authority over players. It’s not worth the risk, frankly.
That said: the Hall of Fame is about history, and Rose the ballplayer was one of baseball’s greatest figures. He deserves induction. His fans, of which there are many, would love to see it take place. That the Hall of Fame won’t even allow the possibility of that happening is a shame.