Baseball legend Pete Rose managed the Bridgeport Bluefish to a 2-0 victory over the Lancaster (Pa.) Barnstormers on Monday night in front of a crowd of 4,573 at Harbor Yard Ballpark in downtown Bridgeport.
Rose was managing his first professional game in 25 years. He had been the manager of the Cincinnati Reds, where he also had been a player for most of his 24-year career.
Rose has the most hits of any Major League Baseball (MLB) player in history (4,256), but eventually was barred from the game after a gambling scandal involving his betting on baseball.
The lifetime ban put in place in 1989 prevents him from ever being considered for induction into the Baseball Hall of Fame.
‘Leadership, advice and stories’
The Bluefish brought Rose to Bridgeport in a publicity move. The Bluefish are part of the Atlantic League, an independent organization that is not affiliated with MLB and therefore not required to follow the ban.
“The Hit King was able to provide the Bluefish players with leadership, advice and stories during his time as manager for one game,” according to a Bluefish press release distributed after the June 16 night game.
Talking to the young players
Rose talked in advance about what he planned to do while in Bridgeport.
“I will tell each of the players in the clubhouse a few things before the game,” Rose had said. “I will look at each of them and say that every one of you guys has more ability right now than I did at 18 years old.
“I was told that I was too slow, didn’t have a strong arm, and didn’t have power, but I got an opportunity and I worked the rest of it out,” he said. “I out-worked people, out-hustled people, and had more determination.”
Attended two paid events while in town
Rose arrived in Bridgeport on Monday morning. He spoke at a paid luncheon at Housatonic Community College in Bridgeport for an hour — it cost $150 to attend — before going back to Harbor Yard Ballpark to oversee batting practice.
After speaking to the Bluefish players in their locker room, he attended a meet-and-greet with fans in the stadium’s Harbor Club — also a paid event, at $250 per person — before participating in a press conference on the field.
Most tickets to the game with Rose as Bluefish manager were $14, an increase from regular prices, in recognition of the number he wore as a player.
Rose exchanged starting lineups with the umpires and Lancaster manager Butch Hobson — another former major league player — before signing autographs for fans.
Rose coached first base for four innings before finishing his Atlantic League managerial debut in Bridgeport’s dugout.
He then wrapped up his stay in the Park City with a post game press conference on the field.
‘I love baseball’
“I’m doing this because I love baseball,” Rose said of why he agreed to be honorary Bluefish player for one game. “I love young players because they bring you one thing you need in sports — enthusiasm.
“These young men are here working their butts off,” he said. “They don’t have egos — they are hungry. They run hard and they play hard, all the time.”
Promoted as big announcement
Ken Shepard, Bluefish general manager, called the appearance by Rose — who was known as “Charlie Hustle” as a player — a truly special occasion for baseball fans and for the overall sport.
“This is one of the biggest and influential announcements in not only franchise history, but in professional baseball in the last 25 years as well,” Shepard said.
Learn more about the Bridgeport Bluefish baseball team at BridgeportBluefish.com.
Set many records as a player
Rose played 24 seasons in MLB with the Cincinnati Reds, Philadelphia Phillies and Montreal Expos. He is the all-time MLB leader with 4,256 hits, 3,562 games played, and 14,053 at-bats.
Rose was named National League Rookie of the Year in 1963 and National League Most Valuable Player in 1973; was the recipient of two Gold Glove awards (1969 and 1970) and a Silver Slugger award (1981); appeared in 17 All-Star games at five different positions (first base, second base, third base, left field, and right field); and won three World Series rings (with the Reds in 1975 and 1976, and the Phillies in 1980).
Following his playing career, Rose managed the Cincinnati Reds from 1984 to 1989.