An interview with the ‘Hit King,’ part IV
I had the special opportunity recently for an exclusive, all access interview with the “Hit King” Pete Rose. Our rules…there were none! I questioned Pete on topics that I’ve never heard him asked before. Today’s interview is final interview in a four part series.
Mark: Who was your favorite athlete?
Pete: My favorite athlete. You mean ever? Anywhere?
My dad. My dad was great. He was a basketball player. My dad was a good athlete. A great football player. He taught me how to work hard and always give my best effort.
Mark: Pete, I’ve had the unique opportunity the last five years to get to know you personally and I’ve seen how you’ve interacted with major sport celebrities and I’ve also seen how you’ve treated the young lady that checks you in at the hotel. I’ve seen how you have treated the housekeeping staff at the hotel. I’ve seen how you treated the waitress in the restaurant. You’re treating them the same.
Pete: To my knowledge, I’ve never talk down to anybody and I’ve never talked up to anybody. I’ve met six presidents of the United States and I looked them right in the eye and talked to them. You’re impressed by what they’ve accomplished, sure, and you respect what they’ve accomplished, but they put their pants on the same way you do. People can tell if you’re talking up to them or people can tell if you’re intimidated by them. Intimidation was never a word that was in my vocabulary when I played the game of baseball or when I met somebody. I was partially intimidated one time and let me tell you the situation. I was up in Cooperstown signing autographs. Babe Ruth’s daughter walked down to say hi to me. Now, I just happen to think that Babe Ruth is the greatest baseball player in the history of baseball. He doesn’t have the greatest stats, but he was the best because he saved the game with his presence in this town or that town, enabled the franchises to grow. I’m sitting there and I’m talking to Babe Ruth’s daughter. I was almost intimated the same way two days later when I got on a plane down in Tampa to go back to my home in LA and Elvis’ wife was sitting in front of me. So in a matter of two days I met Priscilla Presley and I met Babe Ruth’s daughter, Claire.
I wasn’t intimated in front of Judge Spiegel, a federal judge, like I was with those two people. Mainly, because of the history that they have behind them. She slept with the King…think about that. She slept with the King!
Mark: This might be a hard question to hear. At one point you were the highest paid player in sports.
An interview with the ‘Hit King,’ part IV Yep.
Mark: I also read while you were serving your punishment you were earning $.11 an hour.
Pete: Was I getting that much? You know what my job was…I was in the welding department. Nobody likes to talk about being in prison, but that’s one of those deals where I underpaid my taxes by 3.5%. You know I was in the welding department and we were all the way in the back. They kept me as far back from all the prisoners as they could and whenever the warden was coming in they would always call us to make sure that we knew he was coming. Every time he’d come back before he’d get there I’d be sweeping the floor in there have to and he looked at me one day and he said, “Pete, I have to tell you something.” He said, “This floor is the cleanest floor in this whole prison. Every time I come back here you’re sweeping the floor.” My job was to make sure the coffee was made by 8:10 every morning.
Mark, life is fun, you know, I mean I come back to Cincinnati all the time and I’m treated like a king here and I’m in the business of signing autographs in Las Vegas. I always look at everybody as a perspective customer, you know, or if people are nice to me they might want to go to the ball park. They might want to go see the Reds play. You know, because you try to get new fans every day to come out to the ballpark. I must tell you at this time Mr. Castellini, the owner of the Reds, is really trying to do his best to win for the City. I think that people are starting to understand that and I love it when I come here and the stadium is full. Like on Opening Day and it would be full. I wish it would be full the second game and the third game like it is in St. Louis, like it is in Philly, like it is in New York, like it is in LA. I’ve been saying this for seventy years; this is the baseball capital, of the United States, of the world.
Believe me when I tell you, when you’re a player you know if there are people in the stands and you know if there are empty seats. You really know it. If you want your team to play good, come out and support them and they should give you a little extra effort.
Mark: Pete, I found you to be an honorable man and a good man and a lot of people look up to you. You’re American hero and I really appreciate the opportunity to spend time with you asking questions and I hope that one day you’ll make it in the Hall of Fame!
Pete: Thanks, and I do too! It’s time. I love the game of baseball and all that it means to me and I’ve earned…I’ve earned the opportunity to be in the Hall of Fame.
I hope that you’ve enjoyed this exclusive interview with Pete Rose. My purpose was to unmask the man known as the “Hit King” and share his thoughts on never before heard questions. The debate will continue to go on as to whether he belongs in the Hall of Fame