MIAMI -- Pete Rose II plays third base, wears No. 14, slides headfirst into third and has a heart bigger than the national debt.

Just like his old man.

In his first year with the Baltimore Orioles' Class A team in the Erie League, he hit .276. In his first year in the same league, his father hit .277.

The younger Rose, they say, has limited power, questionable ability, a dubious future. The same was said about the elder Rose, who went on to get 4,256 hits in 24 major-league seasons with the Cincinnati Reds, Montreal Expos and Philadelphia Phillies.

Like father, like son?

The elder Rose did not have a father who played in the major leagues. The elder Rose did not have a father who gambled his way out of baseball and into national infamy, a father who was a felon convicted on two counts of filing false federal income tax returns.

The younger Rose does.

At just about every minor-league park he played in last year, Pete Rose II (who goes by Petey) endured a blistering rain of abuse:

"Hey, Petey, I bet you don't get a hit."

"Hey, Petey, don't forget to file your income taxes."

Says Rose, age 20: "It was hard to sleep at night, hard to wake up in the morning. What did you want to wake up for?"

It's not easy being the son of a famous major leaguer. The professional ranks are strewn with the broken dreams of young men who could not play up to their fathers' legend. Consider Mike Yastrzemski, son of Hall of Fame outfielder Carl, who never got past AAA ball. Or Jimmy Boudreau, son of Hall of Fame shortstop Lou, who never got past AA ball. Or Mickey Tresh, son of former Yankee slugger Tom, who is toiling for the fourth consecutive year in Class A ball.

There are exceptions, young men who rise above their father's greatness and carve out a legend of their own. This year's biggest success story is Ken Griffey Jr., who at age 20, seems bound for Cooperstown and destined to have a candy bar named after him. People aren't comparing him to Cincinnati's Ken Griffey Sr., who didn't make the majors until he was 23. They're comparing him to Willie Mays and Roberto Clemente and Jose Canseco.


"I never considered {the Griffey name} a burden or a blessing," the younger Griffey said. "If my dad would've been a doctor, I still would've been a baseball player. I just go out and play."

He is so loose and unburdened he doesn't bother learning the names and styles of opposing players. He once asked if Frank Tanana was a rookie, if Bert Blyleven was a lefty or a righty.

For the younger Griffey, following in dad's footsteps is a snap, like one of his leaping, against-the-wall, Say Hey catches in center field that leaves everyone -- including Ken Griffey Sr. -- bug-eyed.

It is not that way for everyone.

Roberto Clemente Jr. was 6 when his father died. His brother, Luis, was 5. Growing up in Puerto Rico without their father was tough; growing up in his shadow was tougher still.

In 18 seasons with the Pittsburgh Pirates, Roberto Clemente won four National League batting titles, hit .317 and played on two world championship teams. In America, he was a Hall of Famer; in Puerto Rico he remains a national hero.

"We were brought up with the pressure of being compared to my father," said Luis, 23. "They would compare us on a daily basis."

The comparisons accelerated when Luis, an outfielder and third baseman, signed with the Pirates in 1984, and Roberto Jr., a right fielder, signed with the Phillies in 1985. But there really is no comparison. Neither son made it to the majors.

Roberto Jr. could run and throw, but couldn't hit a breaking ball; Luis couldn't stay healthy, couldn't hit or keep his mind on the game. Music was a powerful distraction.

"I always had my mind on a lot of other things," said Luis, who hit .235 during his brief minor-league career and now plays keyboards for his own band, Clemente. "The comparisons got tougher and tougher. I thought, 'If I don't play baseball, I'm not going to die.'"

Luis, who quit baseball after being released in 1986, handled the pressure better than Roberto Jr. Once, while young Roberto was playing a minor-league game in Ashville, S.C., a fan in the outfield bleachers began degrading his late father.

"I found myself in the stands in no time," said young Roberto. "I was on top of the guy. I was beating the guy up. . . . I don't care if they call me names. But don't say anything about my dad."

The young man hit .203 in two minor-league seasons and quit in 1986 after hurting a kneecap.

Dale Berra, son of Hall of Fame catcher Yogi, had it easier than most growing up. He never moved because his father was never traded, and rarely took much abuse because of his name. He had the same friends from first grade through high school. "I was just plain ol' Dale," he said.

A three-sport prep star in New Jersey, hele never tried living up to his father's reputation.

The Pirates' No. 1 draft pick in 1975, Dale had a troubling career that choked and sputtered for 10 years before collapsing under the weight of a cocaine problem. In 1986, former baseball Commissioner Peter Ueberroth disciplined Dale, along with 10 other major-league players, for using drugs.

In 1988, the Baltimore Orioles cut him in spring training. He finished his career with a meager .236 average.

In the big leagues, he heard the taunts:

"You can't hit like your old man."

"Yogi wouldn't be proud of you."

Yogi insists he is.

"I'm real proud of him," he said. "I didn't push him to go into baseball. He did it on his own."

Dale, 33, who runs a construction company in Cranford, N.J., has unresolved feelings about his career. "A lot of days, I say, 'I did all right. I made money,' " he said. "There are other days where I say, 'I played 10 years, but didn't excel the way I could have or should have. I wish I could have played longer.' "

He regrets his involvement with drugs, regrets not taking better care of himself as a player, but he does not regret growing up as Yogi's son.

"I didn't feel I had to measure up," he said. "There's probably only a handful that will ever be as good as my dad. To not be as good as he was is not an insult."

Tom Tresh was a better major-league player than his father Mike. Injuries cut short a promising career with the Yankees in 1969, but they still talk about Tom's speed, power and talent, about the year he batted .286, hit 20 homers and drove in 93 runs.

When Mickey Tresh was 4 years old, Tom dressed him in a Tigers uniform, sent him up to the plate at Tiger Stadium, and watched him hit a double up the middle during a father-son game.

"He had a very strong interest in the game in his early years," Tom said.

At the Little League, high school and collegiate levels, Mickey Tresh was always one of the better players around, but never the best. That didn't bother Tom Tresh, who was a late bloomer himself.

"Dad always told me I'd be a better player than he was," said Mickey, who, at 5 feet 11 and 170, is smaller than Tom, who is 6-0 and 190. "In high school, he'd say I was better than he was at the same stage -- he wasn't all-state -- and I never doubted that."

Mickey, 25, knows better now. He hit .256 in three years of Class A ball with the Yankees, then was released. Signed by Detroit this year, he is hitting .278 with the Class A Lakeland Tigers. If he doesn't move up to AA ball next year, his career is over.

For Mickey, the toughest thing about being Tom Tresh's son is believing how good he is supposed to be.

"It made me feel like my dad's been trying to pump me up my whole life," he said. "I finally said to him, 'I don't want you to tell me any more how good I am."

Said Tom: "My dad did the same thing to me. He used to tell me, 'Tommy, you can run faster than me. You're going to be a better hitter than me. I believed it.' I told my son the same thing and I believed it. . . . I certainly didn't feel I was lying to him. . . . I was trying to build his confidence. I wouldn't have done that if I had known the pressure it would put on him."

Mickey, a two-time Academic All-American at Miami (Ohio), says his only chance of making the majors is as a utility player. If he doesn't make it, he says he won't be crushed.

"I have a lot of faith in the Lord," he said. "If I didn't have that, I guess I would be pulling my hair out."

Petey Rose has carried the burden of his father's name ever since he can remember. He hit over .450 his senior year in high school, led his American Legion team in 1988 to the national championship and was the Orioles' 13th pick in the draft that summer.

"People expect you to be invincible," he said. "People expect you to get a base hit every time. You're not supposed to strike out. You're supposed to hit .300."

He was supposed to crumble under the pressure of his father's gambling sins, but didn't. He ached and fretted and cried a lot, though.

"I'm not afraid to cry," he said. "I'm an emotional kid. I got it from my mom."

Having been slowed much of the year by a pulled hamstring, he is hitting .256 for the Frederick Keys in the Class A Carolina League. Wally Moon, the Frederick manager, says Petey hustles like his father, but is slow afoot and needs to improve his hitting. Can Petey climb to the bigs?

"He has a chance," Moon said.

Said the elder Rose: "The ability is there. It just has to fall in place. He's learned from the best in the business. . . . Most sons will want to emulate their fathers. I wish he'd do everything the same way as me."

Petey says his father tells him he is a much better player at 20 than he was. Petey says he believes him. "I talk to him all the time, but it's hard to catch him. He's always playing golf."

What happens if Petey fails?

"I really haven't thought about not making it," he said. "I'd probably be a scout or something. Baseball is pretty much all I know."