Pete Rose has a simple message for any Major League Baseball player who uses steroids.
`If you break the rules and you cheat, that’s not good for the game,` said Rose.
Rose — who visited The Stadium sports collectibles shop at Crossgates Mall Wednesday — knows something about breaking baseball’s rules. The all-time hits leader was be banned from the game for life in 1989 after the Dowd Report revealed that he bet on baseball games while managing the Cincinnati Reds.
Rose filed a lawsuit before agreeing to the ban. Then, he publicly denied for more than a decade that he bet on the game he played and managed before confessing to it in an autobiography he released in 2007 called `My Prison Without Bars.` Today, Rose watches baseball games on TV.
`I start watching around a quarter after five (in the afternoon),` said Rose. `I live in Las Vegas, so I get to see the East Coast games at around 5, the Midwest games around 6 and then the West Coast games around 7.
`I’m a fan,` he added. `Am I not going to love the game anymore because I screwed up? No.`
Rose’s visit coincided with another baseball controversy. Two days before Rose came to town, Milwaukee Brewers outfielder Ryan Braun was suspended for the rest of the 2013 season for his relationship with the Biogenesis clinic, a Miami-based lab that allegedly supplied performance enhancing drugs to Braun and several other current major leaguers including New York Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez.
Chaz Betz, who owns The Stadium, admitted in hindsight that having Rose visit his store to sign autographs and appear on Mike Lindsley’s WTMM 104.5 FM radio program in light of Braun’s suspension was perfectly timed.
`I kind of lucked out,` said Betz. `I wish I hit the lottery instead.`
Lindsley, who came to the Albany sports radio market from Syracuse in April, said interviewing Rose was a career highlight for him.
`I’ve been around these guys all my life, so I’ve been very lucky,` said Lindsley, who is in his early 30s. `But, I’ve never been around a guy who hustled as much as Pete Rose did.`
Rose was a polarizing player on the field. People either admired or hated the way he aggressively ran the base paths during his 24-year career.
`I was brought up a Yankees fan, but I always admired great players and he was a great player,` Betz said of Rose, who spent his career playing for the Reds and the Philadelphia Phillies.
What no one can argue is Rose’s career total of 4,256 hits, 65 more than the previous record held by Detroit Tigers great Ty Cobb. Rose also batted .303, walked 1,566 times and scored 3,562 runs.
Rose said the secret to his success was his knowledge of the pitchers he faced.
`I’ve told people this before and they don’t believe me, but the easiest place to hit is in the big leagues,` said Rose. `First of all the lights are better, the umpires are better and the pitchers all throw strikes. But the biggest thing is the pitchers never change how they pitch. They’re not going to change what they do every off-season. They’re not going to add a pitch during the off-season.`
Rose was also a successful manager, having won 426 games in four seasons in Cincinnati before he was banned by then-MLB commissioner A. Bartlett Giamatti in August 1989. Since then, Rose has traveled the country signing autographs, including an annual stop in Cooperstown around the time of the National Baseball Hall of Fame induction ceremonies.
Though the lifetime ban Rose agreed to dictates that he can’t be inducted into the Hall of Fame, some feel that he should be allowed entry given that the PED scandal has engulfed several of the game’s top players in recent years.
`There’s a lot more going on in baseball than (gambling),` said Rensselaer resident James Crosby, one of 120 people who purchased pre-sale tickets to have Rose sign an autograph for him. `As far as I’m concerned, Pete Rose never did anything wrong.`
`There is nobody who should be holding him back now,` added Lindsley.
Meanwhile, the closest that Pete Rose can get to the game is to watch it on TV and hope that the current crop of 20-something players such as Mike Trout, Manny Machado and Bryce Harper can carry on the style of play that he displayed for more than two decades.
`I just want them to play hard,` said Rose. `I don’t care how much money they make. You have to earn what you make. Whether you go 4-for-4 (at the plate) or 0-for-4, you have to give effort.`