The Pete Rose Reinstatement Tour made a stop Monday night in Bridgeport, Conn., where baseball’s all-time hits leader managed a game, made a joke about Donald Sterling and stressed again how he hopes Commissioner Bud Selig will see fit to lift a lifetime ban that’s now in its 25th year.
Wearing slacks and an oversized shirt, the 73-year-old Rose was de facto manager of the Bridgeport Bluefish, which is allowable because the Bluefish are unaffiliated with any major league club. Rose was banned by the late Bart Giamatti in 1989 for gambling while managing the Cincinnati Reds. He’s moved on with his life, signing autographs and making personal appearances, and he was asked Monday if he had any advice for Donald Sterling, the Los Angeles Clippers’ owner who is under a lifetime ban from the NBA for racist comments.
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“All I can say about Donald Sterling is, my fiancee is a lot better looking than his girlfriend,” Rose joked (via the Associated Press). Then he turned serious. “A lifetime ban is a long time.”
Selig, who leaves office next January, may be his best hope, Rose told USA Today’s Bob Nightengale:
“Buddies tell me that I’ve got a good chance to be on the ballot when Bud leaves office,” Rose says. “But hey, what if the next commissioner is Bud’s best friend? What if my best chance is for Bud to reinstate me himself?
“I really believe there’s a chance.”
“Hey, when I met with Bud,” Rose said, “I would have bet everything I own that he was going to reinstate me when I left his office.”
The year was 2003.
Rose is still waiting.
“The guy who shot the Pope,” Rose says, “he got a second chance. That’s all I’m asking for, a second chance. I’ll make the most of it.
“I’m not whining. I was the one who screwed up. I made some mistakes. But come on, it’s been a quarter of a century.”