Tuesday, February 24, 2004

Schmidt calls Rose 'a beaten man'

The Associated Press

CLEARWATER, Fla. - Hall of Famer Mike Schmidt called Pete Rose "a beaten man" and doesn't know whether the career hits leader will gain reinstatement to baseball.

Schmidt, one of Rose's biggest allies, said baseball's hits king didn't come across as a sympathetic figure in a book tour that included television and newspaper interviews. In My Prison Without Bars, Rose reversed course from 15 years of denials and admitted to betting on the Cincinnati Reds while he managed the team in the late 1980s.

"It wasn't the best showing of sorrow and regret," Schmidt said Monday. "That's just something Pete isn't great at doing. But I know he truly is sorry and that he regrets everything. He talked to me about it in private, told me that he let me down. And he broke down.

"As soon as I got off the phone with him, I contacted the commissioner and told him, 'This guy means what he's saying.' I believe in him and, you know, I don't want to get caught in a con game. Pete's a beaten man."

Rose agreed to accept a lifetime ban in 1989 and applied for reinstatement in 1997. Last year at this time, Schmidt was predicting that commissioner Bud Selig would make a decision on Rose's application before the start of the 2003 season.

"He still seems to be dragging his feet on that one," Schmidt said. "He must have a good reason for it."

Schmidt will coach 20- and 21-year-old prospects this year as manager of the Clearwater Threshers, the Philadelphia Phillies' Class A farm team in the Florida State League. It is Schmidt's first full-time job in baseball since he retired in 1989.

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