Pete Rose received a loud and long standing ovation Sunday when introduced alongside his 1980 World Series champion teammates at Phillies Alumni Day.
Before and after that reception, the 81-year-old dismissed questions about allegations of sexual misconduct by a woman who said in sworn court testimony that she had a sexual relationship with Rose when she was 14 and 15 years old and he was in his early-30s.
Those allegations surfaced five years ago this month and resulted in the Phillies canceling Rose’s 2017 Wall of Fame induction.
Sunday was the first time Rose had attended a Phillies game since 1989, when he received a lifetime ban from MLB for placing bets on the Cincinnati Reds team he had been managing for five seasons.
Prior to Sunday’s on-field ceremony, Rose posed for pictures with former teammates. He was asked by a female reporter from the Philadelphia Inquirer what kind of message he thought his presence sent to women.
Rose responded, “I’m not here to talk about that, sorry about that. It was 55 years ago, babe.”
Given a chance to clarify or expand on that response after the ceremony, Rose doubled down.
“I’m here for the Philly fans, I’m here for my teammates, I’m here for the Philly organization,” he said. “Who cares what happened 50 years ago? You weren’t even born so you shouldn’t be talking about it because you weren’t born. And if you don’t know a damn thing about it, you shouldn’t talk about it.”
The interview ended at that point, concluding a controversial three-hour stretch that illustrated how well Rose is remembered by some but also the seriousness of the allegations.
Rose did not disagree with the decision the Phillies made five years ago when they canceled his Wall of Fame ceremony a week before it was set to take place, referring to it as a situation that “came and went.”
“The Phillies, they know what’s right,” he said. “Anybody would like to be on the Wall of Fame. I don’t know who made that decision but god bless them, they made it for a reason. I’m still here today for the biggest event in a long time here in Philadelphia. I’m sitting here talking to you guys. Everything evens out.”
Baseball’s all-time hits leader was a key member of the Phillies’ 1980 World Series team, hitting .282 in the regular season and .325 in the playoffs, leading the National League with 42 doubles and making the All-Star team.
The Phillies inducted two members of that club — reliever Ron Reed and outfielder Bake McBride — onto the Wall of Fame Saturday night. On Sunday afternoon, they celebrated the 1980 and 2008 championship teams with dozens of Phils alums on hand.
Unsurprisingly, Rose became the biggest story of the day.