Despite being baseball’s all-time hits leader, Pete Rose knows what it’s like to be shut out of the sport’s Hall of Fame – and the icon says a few of this year’s snubbed players should have been let into the sacred institution.
On Friday morning, Rose visited Access Hollywood Live to promote his new TLC reality series “Pete Rose: Hits & Mrs.,” and he weighed in on this week’s decision to keep modern day superstars like Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens out of the Hall of Fame over allegations of using performance enhancing drugs during their playing days.
When Billy Bush asked if Bonds, Clemens or Sammy Sosa – who all put up Hall of Fame caliber numbers during their careers but were plagued with scandal – should have been elected, Rose said one name stood out above the rest.
“I’m going to defend one of those guys and I’m probably wrong by doing this… Roger Clemens never failed a drug test. Roger Clemens to this day says he didn’t take steroids. Roger Clemens went to two different courts that ruled in his favor as far as not lying about taking steroids, so who in the hell am I to sit here and say Roger Clemens took steroids?” Rose said, defending the all-star pitcher.
“A lot of guys didn’t get votes yesterday because of assumptions… you know Bonds took steroids… you know [Rafael] Palmeiro flunked a test… you know Sosa flunked a test, so those guys don’t have a leg to stand on. But Roger Clemens, to get 36 or 37 percent [of the vote] was kind of surprising to me,” he added, referring to the required 75 percent of votes needed to be elected into the Hall of Fame.
Rose also said other deserving players were affected by the dark cloud hanging over some of the bigger names in this year’s class.
“There were a lot of good names on that list. A guy who played right here [in Los Angeles] I thought deserved to be there — he’s the best offensive hitting catcher in the history of baseball – Mike Piazza,” Rose explained. “He’s got more home runs, more RBIs, a higher batting average than three Hall of Fame catchers I played against — Johnny Bench, who’s the best all-time overall, Gary Carter, Carlton Fisk. And in my first year I played against Yogi Berra. [Piazza] has got all the records. I don’t quite understand why he didn’t get more votes.
“And the other guy is Craig Biggio. He was the first guy to have 3,000 hits to be on the ballot for the first time and not make the Hall of Fame, since 1945,” Rose added. “And none of those guys who got close yesterday, probably won’t make it next year.”
As for Rose and his own troubles with being left out of the Hall of Fame following a gambling scandal, he said he’s come to terms with the snub and isn’t losing any sleep over it anymore.
“Are they going to let you in?” Kit Hoover asked Rose, who was accompanied by fiancée Kiana Kim.
“That’s a good question. I guess the question is, ‘Are they going to give you a second chance?’” Rose suggested.
And while he has admitted he did bet on baseball during his career – he played from 1963 to 1986, and managed from 1984 to 1989 – the former Cincinnati Reds star, nicknamed “Charlie Hustle” for the way he played the game, said he never went against his own team.
“I bet on my team [to win]. I bet on my team every night. I loved my guys,” Rose asserted.
All these years later, the now-71-year-old Rose said there is no longer any anger towards the people who decided to keep him out of the Hall of Fame.
“I’m the one who screwed up. I can’t get mad because I’m not in the Hall of Fame. I don’t want you to think that before I go to sleep tonight, I’ll pray I go to the Hall of Fame tomorrow. If I’m ever given that opportunity, I’ll be the happiest guy in the world. But knowing that I messed up, I’m living the consequences – why get mad at somebody?” he added. “I’m at peace with myself for what I did or what I didn’t do. And I think my fans know what I did and I think my teammates know how I approached the game. If I die tomorrow… I’d be happy.”