WHITEWATER TOWNSHIP, Ohio -- Pete Rose was back in town Monday night. And now that it appears his chances for reinstatement during his lifetime are slim to none, the Hit King had no filter.
"I can say anything I want now. What is Baseball going to do, suspend me?" Rose quipped from the stage at the annual Oak Hills Sports Stag, held at The Woodlands event center.
He declined to speak directly with media at the event, which was his first appearance in the Tri-State since Major League Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred's announcement last month that he wouldn't reinstate the 74-year-old.
In a three-page statement, Manfred said Rose did not man up to new accusations that arose from baseball betting slips obtained by ESPN last summer, or about his current, continued gambling. On top of that, Manfred said, Rose did not heed former Commissioner Bart Giamatti's directive to "reconfigure his life" after Giamatti banned Rose in 1989 for betting on the Reds.
However, Manfred's decision stayed vague enough regarding the Hall of Fames that Rose could still possibly be eligible for induction.
Baseball's Rule 21 prohibits anyone working in baseball from betting on games with the penalty of a one-year suspension. Rule 21(c) says anyone who bets on his own team is banned permanently. Rose denied betting on the Reds for 15 years until he admitted it in his autobiography in 2004.
Of course, none of that seemed to matter much to the hundreds of people who packed the sports stag, where Rose was the headliner.
"I think he personally deserves to be in, and if you need to put an asterisk on his plaque, so be it. But if he has the most hits in Major League Baseball, he deserves to be in the Hall of Fame," Kevin Wentz said.
Rose talked about his good years with the Big Red Machine, and had some advice for the current team:
"You got to have a good attitude. You could have positive, negative, winning or losing. Right now, they got a losing attitude," Rose said.
Organizers of the sports stag said they sold more tickets to this year's event, a fundraiser for the Oak Hills Athletic Department, thanks to Rose's appearance.