An interview with Pete Rose, the ‘Hit King,’ part III
Published in The Clermont Sun – October 9th, 2014
By Mark Calitri
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 third interview in a four part series.
Mark: Let’s move on to a new direction. The next few questions are going to be the top questions that women want to know from Pete. You have a large following of female fans and the number one question is, “Did you ever feel bad for the team that you beat?”
Pete: No, not at all. Not at all. Not even when I was in Little League. For those mothers and sisters and aunts and grandmas that want to know that question…. no, you got to teach your kid to win. You’ve got to teach your kid to win at an early age and when he becomes eighteen or nineteen or she becomes eighteen or nineteen she’s got a better chance of making a positive decision. Don’t forget you’re listening to a guy talk that spent twenty-nine years in the big leagues, in professional sports. The winners make the money. The winners get the rewards. The winners feel better. For that same mother that asked that question I’ll ask her this question. If your son is playing little league baseball and gets a couple hits and they win the game, do you feel better on the way home as opposed if he goes 0 for 4 and they lose the game? If he goes 0 for 4 and he loses the game does he call Grandma and Grandpa and tell them? If he hits a homerun does he call Grandma and Grandpa and tell them? Yes, he does. So there is something to winning. Not to the standpoint that you become a sore loser. But winning, winning is – when you play a sport it’s just like when you take a test, would you rather get an A or a D? I would hope you say an A. It’s the same thing in sports.
Mark: Well, tell me about an embarrassing moment that happened to you. Anybody pull any pranks on you?
Pete: No. You know one thing about the Big Red Machine, Mark, when we played the game of baseball a lot of other teams have pranksters. Pranksters are for bad teams. We had too many guys who were worried about winning, worried about doing their job. We didn’t have guys that would hide your gloves and all that Mickey Mouse stuff. We didn’t have any of that stuff going on. Bench, Morgan or Perez wouldn’t have tolerated that.
Mark: How do you handle the criticisms from the fans in the stands, maybe yelling things at you?
Pete: One thing you don’t want to do, and Mr. Selig learned the year the All-star Game was in Milwaukee. Remember when he had to call the game as a tie? One thing you never want to do or have happen to you as an athlete is be booed when you got a white uniform on, okay? I don’t ever remember getting booed when I had a white uniform on. That means you’re playing at home.
When I had a gray uniform on I expected to be booed. What I would do periodically when I was in the outfield we would call a guy leather lungs. You know, he’s one of those guys that’s sitting amongst forty thousand people and everything he says everybody in the ballpark can hear him. He’s just one of those guys that can yell at you constantly and he doesn’t like you. Now if this guy’s going to sit up there for six, seven innings and boo me, I’m going to figure out a way before the game’s over to put him in his place. You figure out a way where you can eventually throw him the ball. Whether it’s the outfield or a foul ball that’s over close to where he’s sitting you take it and you throw the ball right to him. He’s so embarrassed because he just got through yelling at you for seven innings, he can’t keep the ball. He’s got to give the ball to somebody. He can’t keep the ball because he’s the biggest hypocrite in the world if he keeps the ball. That’s how you try to shut those guys up. I had a guy one time in Philly – in LA I did that to, I was over like right by the stands and I threw him the ball, I turned around and ran back. He threw it; hit me right in the middle of the back with it. Now, that’s a guy that really didn’t like me. He didn’t want the ball. He didn’t want anything to do with me. That was funny.
Mark: Bart Giamatti was the commissioner that suspended you. Have you ever met his son the famous actor Paul Giamatti?
Pete: No, he’s really good though. He’s really a good actor. I’d like to meet him sometime because regardless of what people think or say I got a long with his father, Bart. He had to do what he had to do. You know that was my fault for putting him in that position. But God rest his soul, you know, he had to do what he had to do but he didn’t have to die five days later.
Mark: What do think would have happened if he hadn’t died so soon?
Pete: I seriously believe, I seriously believe if he had lived I would have got reinstated that third year. That’s the kind of guy he was. You know he was a very fair man and a really smart man. He was president of Yale and I believe so you know, God took him too early. His son’s a really good actor. Love that guy. In Cinderella Man he was unbelievable in that.