Pete Rose coached first base — in black slacks (because he can’t get into baseball pants?) — last night in Bridgeport, Connecticut at an independent game. It was the first time Pete has been on a field to “manage” a team in 25 years since being banned from Major League Baseball and having any association with affiliated minor league teams.
Rose, Major League Baseball’s all-time hits leader with 4,256, wore a Bluefish jersey and civilian pants and shoes. A crowd of reporters followed his moves, first at a news conference in right field and then as he walked to home plate to exchange lineup cards with Barnstormers manager Butch Hobson. As an old-time baseball publicity stunt, it was an all-timer, garnering the city and its independent franchise coast-to-coast attention.
Rose, 73, spoke to the Bluefish and emerged from the dugout during batting practice.
“I got on a couple of guys,” Rose said. “One guy hit four straight balls to center field. I said, ‘what are you practicing, sacrifice flies?’”
Pete told the local media he asked the commissioner’s office if they had a problem with this event. The office told them they have no jurisdiction over the league and he could do as he pleases. That was a nice gesture. At least they didn’t torture the guy a little more.
So Pete showed up, wore his trusty and comfortable black slacks — jersey untucked for added comfort — and actually went through the signs while coaching first base. Pete loves the attention and it you know it was a good payday for a guy who spends most of his week signing autographs at Mandalay Place in Mandalay Bay. There’s actually a calendar for when Pete will be signing.
You know Pete craves nights like this when fans are wearing his jersey, cheering for him, screaming about Selig. It’s Pete being Pete and if baseball is going to torture the guy, he’s going to cash in financially and massage his ego. There’s nothing wrong with that. Baseball is entertainment.
What did we learn from the Pete Rose experiment last night in Bridgeport? Baseball is much more fun with Charlie Hustle around and that’s not a bad thing. Tell me you don’t want to see Pete Rose wearing a XXXL jersey. You can’t.