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Rose addresses gambling, much more during visit.

Byline: Steve Mims The Register-Guard

The phone rang and Pete Rose answered.

"I've got to get this, it might be Bud Selig," Rose said.

It wasn't the Major League Baseball commissioner, but rather a friend calling from the Reds-Phillies game in Cincinnati, so Rose quickly hung up and got back to answering questions from the 90 or so fans who arrived at Valley River Inn on Tuesday night to hear the all-time hits leader who is serving a lifetime ban from baseball.

Rose was in Eugene to serve as guest speaker at the Oregon Classic Pro-Am Pairings Party & Auction later in the evening, but first he stood near the hotel pool for nearly 45 minutes answering questions from fans.

Rose received a standing ovation from the crowd when he arrived, and they broke into applause again when an audience member expressed support for Rose in his attempt to be reinstated by Selig.

"The fans understand that I understand I made some mistakes, but I can't change what happened," said Rose, who admitted earlier this year in his book "My Prison Without Bars" that he bet on games involving the Reds while managing the team in the late 1980s. "I just picked the wrong vice. If I had been on drugs, or a wife-beater, or an alcoholic, they'd have paid for my rehab and everything would be hunky-dory."

Rose was criticized when his book was released during the same week that Paul Molitor and Dennis Eckersley were voted into the Hall of Fame in January.

He said he originally planned to release the book in March, but later moved the date up to November because he thought he would be reinstated by Selig following the World Series. Rose said the publisher ended up selecting the January date.

"But that's how it is with the press," Rose said. "If the book had come out in spring training, they would have said I was trying to upstage spring training. If it was the All-Star game, I was trying to upstage the All-Star game."

Rose agreed to a lifetime ban in 1989 and remains out of the game and its Hall of Fame.

"I don't have hope," he said. "Tom Arnold had a drug problem and now he's back on TV. Winona Ryder was caught stealing and she's back in the movies. I have no hope. When I look at the end of the rainbow, there is no rainbow."

There were plenty of lighter moments during the evening, as Rose had an assortment of one-liners and stories to entertain the crowd. The biggest laugh came from a joke that hit close to home for the audience.

"By the way, I didn't bet on the Oregon Ducks Saturday," Rose said. "But if I was betting, I probably would have, like the rest of you. Indiana? Indiana will finish 11th in the Big Ten. They won't win a game in the Big Ten."

Rose, who had 4,256 hits during his 24-year career, was asked about some current players who are chasing records, including Ichiro Suzuki, who is getting closer to George Sisler's record of 257 hits in a season than Rose ever got.

"He might get it," Rose said. "He needs 27 hits to tie and he's got 20 games. You know why he probably will get it? Because he never walks. He's already got 630 at-bats. The closest I came was 230 hits, but I walked 75 to 80 times per year. He has walked only 20 times, that's 60 more at-bats."

Rose also said he thought Barry Bonds would break Hank Aaron's record of 755 homers.

"It will take him two more years and he will have to be lucky in terms of no injuries," Rose said. "But how is he going to get hurt? He only trots. He doesn't play defense anymore, he can't throw, and he can't run. How's he going to get hurt? How's he going to pull a muscle?"

Rose will be back in the spotlight later this month when ESPN broadcasts "Hustle", a movie based on his life. Rose had no involvement in the movie and is skeptical that it will be a realistic portrayal of his career.

"I call it an unauthorized hatchet job," Rose said. "How do you do a movie on my life and leave 22 years out of 24 I played out of the movie? It will be all about gambling and they will put an extra zero in, where I didn't bet $1,000 but instead I bet $100,000."

CAPTION(S):

Baseball great Pete Rose signs autographs for fans while making an appearance at the Valley River Inn on Tuesday. Baseball great Pete Rose signs autographs while making an appearance at the Valley River Inn on Tuesday. Brian Davies / The Register-Guard "The fans understand that I understand I made some mistakes, but I can't change what happened." - PETE ROSE
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Title Annotation:Sports; Hit king talks about the release of his book and a movie about his life
Publication:The Register-Guard (Eugene, OR)
Date:Sep 15, 2004
Words:817
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