Revitalized Rose enjoys new chapter

All-time hits leader to receive statue in Cincinnati, part of popular broadcast team

December 3rd, 2016

CINCINNATI -- In addition to signing autographs, conducting question-and-answer sessions with Reds broadcasters and mingling with fans, Pete Rose had another duty at Redsfest over the weekend: having his measurements taken.

No, Rose is not being fitted for a new suit. Rather, the sculptor who is designing of statue of the Reds great, which will be unveiled on Crosley Terrace next season, is meticulous. The goal is for Rose's statue to be as proportionally correct as Rose himself, which means the littlest of details, like the size of Rose's wrists, and the distance between his wrists and shoulders, must match the statue's dimensions.

"They're really together on all of that," Rose said of the effort, spearheaded by local artist Tom Tsuchiya, the same sculptor who designed all four of the Big Red Machine statues that adorn Great American Ball Park.

Rose's statue will be unveiled on June 17, 2017, marking the third time in a single calendar year that the all-time hit leader will appear at Great American Ball Park to be honored by his hometown team.

Last season, the Reds retired Rose's No. 14 and inducted him into their Hall of Fame, events that drew many of Rose's former Big Red Machine teammates, as well as sellout crowds, to Great American Ball Park. Next year's statue unveiling will complete a trifecta for Rose, only the second player to surpass 4,000 MLB hits. (Ty Cobb had 4,191 according to MLB's official statistics, while 4,189 is Cobb's documented total in the eyes of additional researchers.)

"You can get your number retired and you can make the Hall of Fame, and those are great things," Rose said. "But to have a statue at the ballpark that is going to be down there for the rest of the life of the ballpark ... the statue's really a part of history."

Rose's statue will join those of fellow Big Red Machine stars Johnny Bench, Joe Morgan and Tony Perez on Crosley Terrace. Joe Nuxhall, Frank Robinson, Ernie Lombardi and Ted Kluszewski also have statues.

"My three teammates are down there, and a couple of my other guys -- Ted Kluszewski, my batting coach, and Joe Nuxhall, he was a teammate," Rose said. "So, it'll be a fun day."

It's been quite a year for Rose. At 75, he's enjoying a modest resurgence, albeit a restricted one, within select spaces in baseball.

Still banned from the game for past gambling transgressions, Rose has been granted permission from the Commissioner's Office to participate in designated on-field ceremonies that have honored his accomplishments.

Rose is also enjoying a burgeoning television career on FS1, which has given him a platform to share his wide-ranging knowledge of the game he dominated as a player from the 1960s to midway through the '80s.

"We went from the year of Pete to the years of Pete," said Reds COO Phil Castellini. "I think it was fun to watch him on the national broadcasts. I think he did a great job. Not only have we kind of revitalized that energy and love of Pete here locally, but to see him on that national scale, I think, also helped reconnect him to the game in a positive way. So we expect that connection to be positive here and bring some fans in."

On "MLB on Fox" on FS1, Rose and fellow analysts Frank Thomas and have drawn as much attention for their zany shenanigans as for their keen baseball knowledge, making their shows as unpredictable as the games they're analyzing.

Their traveling road show, which took them to the heart of Wrigleyville for the World Series, created a buzz among viewers who enjoyed the peppy give-and-take between three accomplished former Major League All-Stars.

Rose refers to Rodriguez as a "workaholic" and speaks with admiration about the recently-retired infielder's grand knowledge of the game -- even though A-Rod takes, in Rose's estimation, too many notes.

"My notes are right here," Rose said, pointing to his head. " I told [A-Rod], 'You take more notes than a court reporter.' One time, I threw away his notes, and he panicked."

Though he still has that biting tongue and a lot of the bravado and bluster that defined him as a ballplayer, Rose also has seemingly mellowed over time, especially when he talks about the events that led to his lifetime ban and the subsequent denials when he's applied for reinstatement, all of which make him ineligible to be considered for induction into the National Baseball Hall of Fame.

Rose holds out a sliver of hope that he'll someday be reinstated, but he shows no anger when reflecting on what has transpired in the past 30-plus years since he logged his record-breaking 4,192nd hit (he finished with 4,256).

"I am never going to get in front of any group and complain about the Hall of Fame," he said to a crowd of fans at Redsfest. "I'm the one that [messed] that up. I'm not going to get up here and [complain] about the Hall of Fame. As far as I'm concerned, going into the Cincinnati Reds Hall of Fame was good enough for me."