Sunday, January 19, 2003

Ozzie says Rose should admit wrongdoing

By R.B. Fallstrom
The Associated Press

ST. LOUIS - Pete Rose won't get Ozzie Smith's vote until he admits wrongdoing. The former St. Louis Cardinals shortstop became the latest Hall of Famer to weigh in on the Rose issue, saying Saturday that he believed contrition would a good first step for the career hits leader.

"Personally, I think Pete has to step up and take a lot of responsibility before he's going to be allowed to get into the Hall of Fame," Smith said. "What has happened to this point is he has not taken any real responsibility for any wrongdoing."

Smith said he made up his mind after reading the John Dowd report that detailed Rose's alleged gambling transgressions.

"It's very hard with the documents against him," Smith said. "It's not alleged, they have proof. If he admits what he did, that'll go a long way toward helping him get it together."

Another Cardinals Hall of Famer, pitcher Bob Gibson, said he had no opinion on the Rose issue.

"If he gets in, fine," Gibson said. "If he doesn't, that's fine, too."

Commissioner Bud Selig plans to schedule a meeting with the 60 living Hall of Famers perhaps next month to discuss whether Rose should be allowed back into the game.

Rose agreed to a permanent ban from baseball in August 1989 after an investigation of his gambling. Because of the ban, he cannot appear on the Hall of Fame ballot.

Rose applied for reinstatement in September 1997, but Selig hasn't rule on it.

Smith and Gibson, along with several current Cardinals, appeared at the first day of the team's annual Winter Warm-up. Thousands of fans attended the first session, lining up for hours for prime autographs.

Highlights of the event include question-and-answer sessions with team owners, manager Tony La Russa, team president Mark Lamping and general manager Walt Jocketty. Day 1 featured photo sessions with Smith and Lou Brock.

Third baseman Scott Rolen, acquired from the Phillies last July, was impressed by the turnout about 21/2 months before the season opener. He said Philadelphia didn't have an event that came close.

"This is pretty electric," Rolen said. "This is a great thing. It definitely means quite a bit to come here and see the electricity in these fans."

The big names weren't the only ones who were impressed. Pitching prospect Jimmy Journell signed autographs nonstop for two hours.

"When they told me my line was wrapped around, I'm like 'Wow! People really know me here,"' Journell said. "I had a great time."

Proceeds from the event benefit Cardinals Care, the team's community foundation that serves children and youth organizations in the St. Louis area. Since its inception in 1997, Cardinals Care has distributed more than $4.2 million to area children's organizations.

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