Monday, August 18, 2003

Schmidt: Rose ruling on horizon

Hall of Famer anticipates action after World Series

By John Erardi
The Cincinnati Enquirer

Robert G. Hillier, holding son Dallas (11mos.) poses with the Hit King at the Tri-Star Collectors Show.
(Michael E. Keating photo)
| ZOOM |
A decision on Pete Rose's reinstatement will be made and announced some time after the World Series, Hall of Famer Mike Schmidt said Sunday in Cincinnati.

"I met personally - along with Joe (Morgan) and Johnny (Bench) - with the commissioner at the (Baseball) Hall of Fame (last month) and we're optimistic that after the postseason, something will happen with regards to Pete Rose," Schmidt said after signing autographs at the Tri-Star Collectors Show at the Albert B. Sabin Convention Center.

Rose was also at the card show, but through his business agent, Warren Greene, declined comment.

Rose was backstage autographing memorabilia items when Schmidt, a former teammate in Philadelphia, made his comments.

"Nothing is going to happen related to Pete's reinstatement - either positive or negative - prior to the postseason in baseball," Schmidt said. "The commissioner stated (that) specifically" in the meeting with the three Hall of Famers.

A decision on the subject probably will come "sometime in November," Schmidt said. "I think I'm safe in saying that."

Schmidt's career with the Phillies took off when Rose joined the Phillies via free agency in 1979.

Schmidt won two National League Most Valuable Awards in 1980 and 1981 as a teammate of Rose.

Bench and Morgan were Rose's teammates on Cincinnati's Big Red Machine team, which won consecutive World Championships in 1975-76.

"There's been some Pete Rose news (recently), but it's all ... unfounded," Schmidt said.

He was referring to an Internet report last week that received widespread attention.

That report, quoting unnamed sources, said an agreement had already been reached between Rose and commissioner Bud Selig that Rose would be allowed to work in baseball next year and manage in 2005, with no admission of wrongdoing by Rose.

Schmidt referred to the Internet report as "irresponsible journalism."

Schmidt declined comment when asked if he had a feeling which way Selig was leaning on reinstatement, and whether it would be a deal-breaker if Rose had to admit he bet on Reds games while managing the team, as stated in the Dowd Report - the basis of baseball's case against Rose.

Rose, the all-time hits leader who achieved most of his fame in Cincinnati as one of the leading members of the Big Red Machine, has been banned from baseball since 1989 because of gambling. His spot on baseball's permanently ineligible list precludes Rose from working in baseball or being eligible for election to the Hall of Fame.

"Pete's interest is being able to work in the game of baseball - plain and simple," Schmidt said. "He would love some day to be a member of the Hall of Fame, but that's another story ... The most important thing to Pete Rose is an opportunity to make a living."

Does Rose prize managing in Cincinnati over managing elsewhere?

"I won't comment on that - that's Pete's business," Schmidt said.

Is Rose optimistic about reinstatement?

"Yeah, it's been a big year for Pete, all the way around," Schmidt said. "I think he hopes at some point - I'd say within the next six months - to have a real exciting thing happen in his life."

Schmidt's comment about what most of the Hall of Famers want from Rose squares with what four other Hall of Famers said last Friday in Cincinnati.

Big Red Machine teammate Tony Perez, along with Brooks Robinson, Robin Roberts and Gaylord Perry, said they want Rose to acknowledge his actions, even if that means admitting that he bet on Reds games.

"I think Hall of Fame members in general are willing to forgive not only Pete, but any one else that would admit to wrongdoing," Schmidt said. "I won't comment on whether or not that has occurred (whether Rose already has confessed to Selig), but I think it's human nature to be willing to forgive your fellow human beings.

"If the point comes at some day when it's common knowledge that Pete has done that, I think the Hall of Fame members will welcome him with open arms."

For the first time in many years, Rose was not in Cooperstown in July, where he usually signs autographs down the street from the induction ceremony.

"I think Pete's living up to his end of whatever bargain he made with the commissioner back in November, and that's in their hands, and he's just going to sit quiet until something happens, one way or the other," Schmidt said.

Schmidt was instrumental in setting up the November meeting between Rose and baseball officials. He has since had a "couple phone calls" with the commissioner, followed by the meeting in Cooperstown.

"I would assume that some time over the next couple of months (that) yes, I'll be sitting with the commissioner," Schmidt said. "I don't know who'll be there, whether there'll be a lot of people there, or just he and I, or he and his people."

In his meetings with Selig, does Schmidt talk, or listen, or both?

"It depends who's there," said Schmidt, laughing. "With Johnny and Joe there, I do a lot of listening. I sit there and wait until they say, 'Well, Mike, what do you think?' "

Schmidt described himself as a "friend of Pete's."

"I'm supporting Pete over the last six months and will continue to support Pete and I'm hoping for a storybook ending for this whole thing."

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