The last piece of advice Pete Rose shared during a 1989 team meeting was to choose your friends wisely. This, of course, was in the midst of Pete's friends taking him down and trashing his reputation. Obviously, these people were not "real" friends. Friends are people who stick by you in times of need -- not who stick another sword in your back.
|Pete Rose was a vital cog in the Big Red Machine.|
The Tommy Gioiosa article in Vanity Fair is just another example of a so-called "friend" capitalizing on Rose's already tarnished reputation. One more low-life manipulating the truth to suit his own needs while hurting Pete. Gioiosa probably sees it as a way to make himself look better and improve his own reputation.
It's an ugliness that just won't go away. And it's a shame.
In my opinion, Pete Rose should be in the Hall of Fame. His on-the-field accomplishments are nothing short of awesome and to me, that's all that should matter. It's sad that his life -- and the company he kept -- off the field is keeping him out of the Hall.
I've yet to see any substantial evidence that Pete bet on baseball. While I was around him, I certainly never saw anything indicating attempts to alter the outcome of a game. I'm not a betting man, but if I had money on a game, I'd be doing everything in my power to change the outcome. I'd send the worst bullpen guys to the field knowing they'd give up a bunch of runs or I'd constantly be putting together bad line-ups.
From the first day I met Pete, I thought he was one of the most generous people I've ever known. He's the type of person who would give you the shirt off his back. During my first big league camp in 1985, I introduced Pete to my father-in-law. Three years later, upon meeting him again, I was impressed when Pete greeted my father in-law with, "Hey Joe, how ya doin'?"
In the '90s, when he was no longer the manager of the Reds, Pete welcomed me and my family into his home during spring training. And three years ago in Cooperstown, Pete couldn't have been more gracious in granting me an interview and spending time with my producer and me.
That's the type of person Pete is, someone who goes out of his way to make everyone feel comfortable. Ironically, his generosity could be considered his greatest downfall -- look at where it got him.
If nothing else, Pete's story should serve as a lesson to a lot of young athletes - your off the field "friends" now are the people who will either stick by you when your career is over, or turn their back when they consider you no longer important. Choose carefully.