Former Philadelphia Phillies baseball player Pete Rose dismissed accusations of having sexual relations with a teenager during his career in the 1970s when questioned by a female reporter in his first public appearance with the team since receiving a lifetime ban from Major League Baseball in 1989.
Rose was present at Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia on Sunday for an event to commemorate the Phillies’ 1980 World Series-winning team. While there, Rose was questioned by a Philadelphia Inquirer reporter Alex Coffey if he believed his presence at the event sent “a negative message to women.”
“No, I’m not here to talk about that,” Rose responded. “Sorry about that. It was 55 years ago babe.”
“Rose was made available after the ceremony. Someone, maybe an agent, said he had something to say to me, but he didn’t seem to know he was expected to say anything,” Coffey tweeted. “He asked if he’d offended me, and said, ‘Will you forgive me if I sign 1000 baseballs for you’ before saying ‘sorry’?”
When asked by the Associated Press about the exchange with Coffey, Rose said, “I’m going to tell you one more time. I’m here for the Philly fans. I’m here for my teammates. I’m here for the Phillies organization. And who cares what happened 50 years ago?”
Rose, who was banned from baseball for betting on the Cincinnati Reds while he played for and managed the team, was accused by an anonymous woman in 2017 of contacting her when she was 14 or 15 and beginning a sexual relationship with her in 1973. Rose acknowledged that he had such relations with the accuser but claimed that it began when she was 16, which was the age of consent in Ohio at the time.
The accusations led the Phillies to pull plans five years ago to add Rose to its Wall of Fame in an on-field ceremony. The team defended its decision to include Rose in Sunday’s 1980 World Series celebration.
“In planning the 1980 reunion, we consulted with Pete’s teammates about his inclusion,” the Phillies said in a statement. “Everyone wants Pete to be part of the festivities since there would be no trophy in 1980 without him. In addition, the club received permission from the Commissioner’s Office to invite Pete as a member of the championship team.”