Pete Rose dismissed questions Sunday about his first appearance on the field in Philadelphia since the franchise scrapped 2017 plans to honour him because of a woman’s claim she had a sexual relationship with baseball’s hit king when she was a minor.
“It was 55 years ago, babe,” Rose told a female baseball writer for The Philadelphia Inquirer.
The 81-year-old Rose declined to answer any more questions in the dugout moments after a team photo in the outfield meant to celebrate the Phillies’ 1980 World Series championship team and other former players. The original 1980 anniversary celebration was postponed for two seasons because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Rose made his first appearance on the playing field in Philadelphia since receiving a lifetime ban from Major League Baseball in August, 1989. He agreed to the ban after an investigation for MLB by lawyer John Dowd found that Rose placed numerous bets on the Cincinnati Reds to win from 1985 to ‘87 while playing for and managing the team.
The Phillies, however, planned to honour Rose in 2017 for his contributions to the World Series champions in 1980 and the 1983 National League pennant winners.
The woman, identified as Jane Doe in 2017, said Rose called her in 1973, when she was 14 or 15, and they began a sexual relationship in Cincinnati that lasted several years. She also alleged Rose met her in locations outside Ohio for sex.
Rose’s lawyer had said the woman’s claims are unverified.
Rose acknowledged in 2017 that he did have a relationship with the woman, but he said it started when she was 16. He also said they never had sex outside Ohio.
At the time, Rose was in his mid-30s and was married with two kids.
The Phillies were going to induct Rose into their Wall of Fame in an on-field ceremony. That ceremony was cancelled and there were no other plans to celebrate Rose until this season. He was set to be introduced on the field before Sunday’s game alongside many former teammates from the 1980 World Series championship team.
Last month, the Phillies defended the decision to invite Rose to participate in the ceremony.
“In planning the 1980 reunion, we consulted with Pete’s teammates about his inclusion,” the Phillies said in a statement. “Everyone wants Pete to be part of the festivities since there would be no trophy in 1980 without him. In addition, the club received permission from the Commissioner’s Office to invite Pete as a member of the championship team.”
A 17-time all-star, Rose got 826 of his 4,256 hits during his five years playing for the Phillies from 1979 to ‘83.
Rose has asked MLB to end his lifetime ban.