CINCINNATI — The one damp-eyed moment during Pete Rose’s Reds Hall of Fame press conference Saturday came when Rose was asked about Joe Morgan.
Morgan could not attend Rose’s big weekend because he’s dealing with an undisclosed illness.
“We all love Joe. He’s here,” Rose said.
Rose and Morgan are particularly close.
“I talked to Joe this morning,” Rose said. “He sounded real strong. I hate to talk to him now because after a few minutes he starts crying because he wanted to be here.”
Morgan, 72, is a senior advisor to the president of baseball operations and the CEO for the Reds. He has not been around this season. The Reds haven’t disclosed Morgan’s illness, but, if he had to miss Rose’s weekend, that it is serious.
The list of Hall of Famers who came was impressive: Johnny Bench, Jack Billingham, Jim Maloney, Cesar Geronimo, Tony Perez, Eric Davis, Chris Sabo, Dave Parker, Ken Griffey Sr., Dave Concepcion, Jose Rijo, Dan Driessen, Tommy Helms, Clay Carroll, Don Gullett, Mario Soto, Leo Cardenas, Sean Casey.
“How’s you guys all make the Hall of Fame? Billingham? Clay Carroll. Get out of here,” Rose kidded. “I played with all or most of played for me. It was just a pleasure. I been knowing this guy 56 years.”
Rose was referring to Perez.
“You all use the same hair color, too,” Billingham said.
It was that kind of press conference for the most part. Bench pointed out that Rose had just a few fewer hits than Ichiro Suzuki. Rose later asked Casey if he had a World Championship ring, knowing full well what the answer was. Rose pointed that he grew up in Riverside and Larkin went to Michigan. “You can tell it when you hear us talk.”
But, again, the levity ended for the few moments Rose talked about Morgan’s absence.
“He’s here,” Rose repeated.
Later, Morgan appeared via the video board in tribute to Rose.
“I want close with ‘Pete, I love you. Go Reds.”