Pete Rose controversy takes over Phillies’ alumni weekend

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Former Philadelphia Phillies player Pete Rose tips his hat to fans during an alumni day event before a baseball game between the Philadelphia Phillies and the Washington Nationals, Sunday, Aug. 7, 2022, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

The Philadelphia Phillies have always been a proud organization that players, coaches, and personnel hold in high regard. They have been able to create a family-like culture and players have expressed how valued they feel by the team. This is emphasized during the annual Alumni weekend, which is a period of time that fans and the team look forward to, as former players come back to Citizens Bank Park to celebrate their time with the team.

Pete Rose crashes the Phillies weekend

The 2022 Phillies Alumni recognition took place this past weekend, and boy did it not disappoint.

Starting with a giveaway of a replica 1980 World Series, the weekend was full of promise. Friday night the team honored longtime address announcer Dan Baker for his 50 years with the team. Saturday saw Ron Reed and Bake McBride enter the Toyota Wall of Fame. The weekend was going strong and everything seem normal, until Sunday rolled around.

Heading into the weekend, it was confirmed that Pete Rose would be attending the celebration. Pete was a member of the 1980 World Series team, and his teammates wanted him to be in attendance. For those who aren’t aware, Rose is the all-time hits leader in baseball with 4,256. There is no doubt that Pete Rose is one of the greatest baseball players to ever play the game, but off the field, he is simply the complete opposite. 

Rose’s troubled past with the MLB

Pete Rose was banned from Major League Baseball for gambling. Rose was caught betting on Major League games and games that his team, the Cincinnati Reds, were playing in. Obviously, betting on your own games is a major violation against any professional sports team.

Rose was no longer able to participate in anything related to the MLB and has been banned from the Hall of Fame, something that has become very heavily debated in recent years.

Phillies Wall of Fame

In 2017, the Philadelphia Phillies were going to have Pete Rose enter their Wall of Fame. This was a sign of respect to a former player who helped the club win their first World Series title. During that time more information and news came out about an alleged statutory rape incident from the 1970s.

Rose was never convicted of anything, as the statute of limitations had expired, but he did acknowledge his relations with the girl. He believed her to be 16 at the time, which was the age of consent in Ohio during this time period. 

With this information and the scandal surrounding Rose, the Phillies opted to go in a different direction. They decided to not induct Pete and he would not become a member of the Wall of Fame. 

His recent return did not go well

Five years have since passed since Rose was scheduled to be in Philly for an event. With the ‘80 team coming to town, the Phillies extended the invite to bring Pete to the Sunday celebration. When his name was called there was a good mix of cheers and boos as he walked across the Diamond to join his teammates. 

Had the Phillies left it at that, it wouldn’t have been an issue bringing Pete Rose back to town. It was what followed the on-field celebration that went horribly wrong.

The Phillies allowed for Pete Rose and Bob Boone to be available to the media. Leaving Pete open to the Philly media was a boneheaded decision from the start. 

While being asked questions, Alex Coffey, a Phillies writer for the Philadelphia Inquirer, asked Rose about the allegations that kept him out of the Wall of Fame in 2017. Rose replied, “It was 55 years ago, babe.”

It does not take a genius to know that it is no longer acceptable to call a female reporter, “babe.” Women have spoken about the difficulties of gaining respect on the field and often find themselves working harder than their male counterparts. 

Rose’s comments did not stop there. Later on, he was asked about the situation with Alex and apologized if he offended her and said “will you forgive me if I sign 1,000 baseballs for you?” 

Other responses from the same line of dialogue were “I’m going to tell you one more time. I’m here for the Philly fans. I’m here for my teammates. I’m here for the Phillies organization. And who cares what happened 50 years ago….”, as well as “You weren’t even born. So you shouldn’t be talking about it, because you weren’t born. If you don’t know a damn thing about it, don’t talk about it.”

The Phillies decision-making gets worse

The Phillies should have never let Pete sit in front of an open mic like that but their PR department let the ball drop. As Sunday’s game went along, people were more interested in talking about Rose than the team playing on the field. The same team that was going for their second four-game sweep in as many weekends. Regardless of the topic, the number one focus of televising and watching a baseball game should be about the current players, not what a former player is saying inside the stadium. 

Just when you thought the nightmare was over, Pete Rose would once again grace his presence in front of an open mic. This time, however, he would find himself on the television broadcast with Tom McCarthy and John Kruk. 

It’s simply common knowledge that you cannot use profanity on television. This did not stop Pete as he began telling a story from back in the day. His presence turned what had been a light-hearted and fun broadcast, into an uncomfortable and tense situation.

Rose’s comments were not fit for television and once again a failure by the Phillies organization. 

Summing it all up

Overall, this past weekend was successful for the Phillies. They swept the Nationals, two legends entered the Wall of Fame, and they honored a living legend in Dan Baker.

The team needs to cut any remaining ties with Pete Rose and let him go off and do his own thing moving forward. Philadelphia needs to be more careful with who they open up access to and who they place on television. They typically do a great job with planning events and creating an atmosphere, but truly just dropped the ball this time.

Next season will be the 30-year anniversary of the 1993 Phillies, a team notorious for bad behavior. Let this experience be a learning point and do not make the same mistake moving forward. 

Photo Credit: AP Photo/Matt Rourke

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