Baseball legend Pete Rose, who has the most hits of any player in Mayor League Baseball history, will return to Bridgeport to coach the Bluefish for one game on Ken Shepard Day.
The day will honor the team’s outgoing general manager, Ken Shepard, who is battling cancer and will step down from his role with the Bluefish at the end of the season.
Ken Shepard Day at Bridgeport’s Harbor Yard Ballpark will take place during a Bluefish game on Sunday, Sept. 14 at 1:05 p.m. The Bluefish will play the Southern Maryland Blue Crabs.
“Pete is very excited to come back to Bridgeport and take the helm once again on this very special day,” said Jamie Toole, Bluefish assistant general manager. “We encourage everyone to join us as we honor Ken Shepard.”
Shepard is fighting stage 4 kidney cancer.
Rose: Great career and controversy
Rose is considered one of the greatest players ever in baseball, although his reputation was tarnished by a gambling scandal.
On June 16 this year, Rose came to Bridgeport to manage one game for the Bluefish. The event was seen as a publicity stunt by the team, and it did bring a lot of national attention to the Bluefish.
It was the first baseball game that Rose had managed in 25 years (he had been manager of the Cincinnati Reds at the end of his career, where he also spent the bulk of his 24-year playing career).
Rose has the most hits of any Major League Baseball player in history (4,256), but eventually was barred from the game after a gambling scandal involving his betting on baseball.
Major League Baseball placed a lifetime ban on Rose in 1989 that prevents him from coaching in the major leagues or ever being considered for induction into the Baseball Hall of Fame.
The Bluefish play in an independent league that is not affiliated with Major League Baseball.
Shepard’s role is praised
“Ken and I have worked together for over 20 years in the great game of baseball,” said Bluefish principal owner Frank Boulton.
“As GM of four of my teams, Ken approached each game with a level of respect for the fans and corporate partners that is unparalleled in our industry,” Boulton said. ““Ken continues to battle his kidney cancer with great dignity and courage.”
On Ken Shepard Day, the Bluefish will wear commemorative jerseys that will be auctioned off, with proceeds benefiting the Shepard family.
The Atlantic League of Professional Baseball Clubs will be making an announcement prior to the game regarding plans to honor Shepard going forward.
For further information on Ken Shepard Day, visit the team website at www.bridgeportbluefish.com or click below:
Has been GM of six teams
Shepard has been GM of the Bluefish since 2012 and involved in professional baseball for more than two decades. He has been the GM of teams in Geneva, N.Y.; Prince William, Va.; Savannah, Ga.; Wilmington, Del., and the Atlantic City (N.J.) Surf, one of six Atlantic League charter member teams.
The Bridgeport Bluefish also are charter members of the Atlantic League of Professional Baseball, which began in 1998.
A self professed “innovative risk-taker that loves change,” Shepard once slept in a press box in Geneva and vowed to stay there until the team broke its losing streak. The gimmick became national news and helped increase attendance 36% over the previous season.
Two of Shepard’s teams won the Larry MacPhail Promotional Award, given to a club each season that demonstrates the best promotional efforts in minor league baseball.