This should cram The Ballpark at Harbor Yard: Pete Rose is managing the Bridgeport Bluefish (independent; Atlantic League) for one game on Monday, June 16.
Rose, the all-time Major League Baseball hits leader currently banned for betting on games, last managed a professional baseball game just under 25 years ago on August 24, 1989 with the Cincinnati Reds.
“I’m doing this because I love baseball,” Rose said. “I love young players because they bring you one thing you need in sports – enthusiasm. These young men are here working their butts off. They don’t have egos – they are hungry. They run hard and they play hard, all the time. In the late ’80’s I think thirty-three of my players had their first Major League hit. I’m proud of that. Guys like Chris Sabo, Kurt Stillwell and Eric Davis. I love coaching young players like them.”
“This is one of the biggest and influential announcements in not only franchise history, but in professional baseball in the last 25 years as well,” says Bluefish general manager Ken Shepard. “We encourage everyone to come out to the ballpark on June 16 to experience this special occasion.”
Current Bluefish manager Willie Upshaw will step aside to make room for Rose, serving as a coach for the game.
Pete Rose played 24 seasons in Major League Baseball with the Cincinnati Reds, Philadelphia Phillies and Montreal Expos. He is the all-time MLB leader with 4,256 hits, 3,562 games played, and 14,053 at-bats. The slugger was named National League Rookie of the Year in 1963, National League MVP in 1973, was the recipient of two Gold Glove awards (1969, 1970) and a Silver Slugger award (1981), appeared in 17 All-Star games at five different positions (1B, 2B, 3B, LF, & RF), and won three World Series rings (Reds 1975 & ’76, Phillies 1980).
Following his playing career, Rose then went on to manage the Cincinnati Reds from 1984-89, accumulating a 412-373 record as Reds skipper.
“I will tell each of the players in the clubhouse a few things before the game,” Rose added. “I will look at each of them and say that every one of you guys has more ability right now than I did at 18 years old. I was told that I was too slow, didn’t have a strong arm, and didn’t have power, but I got an opportunity and I worked the rest of it out. I out worked people, out hustled people, and had more determination. You have to prepare yourself right and the rest will take care of itself. You set your mind right and winning will fall into place and there is no better motivation than to win. It’s why you play the game – to win. Use this second chance opportunity in this talented league and ‘Think Big.’”
Rose has been one of the more controversial figures in MLB over the last 20 years. He was banned from the game by Bart Giamatti after private investigators compiled a 225-page report detailing his gambling transgressions, complete with depositions, transcripts and betting slips. Since then Rose has maintained his innocence to a degree (though his story has not remained consistent), and this spring saw some calls for reinstating him and allowing his election to the National Baseball Hall of Fame. So far Bud Selig has been steadfast in maintaining the ban; perhaps the next commissioner will take a fresh look at the situation.
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