Pete Rose was a three-time World Series champion, 17-time All-Star and the 1973 NL MVP. (Michael Hickey/Getty Images)
It may not be the Hall of Fame, but Pete Rose will be back in baseball June 16, as he'll manage the Bridgeport Bluefish of the Atlantic League for one game.
The all-time hits leader, with 4,256, is serving a lifetime ban from Major League Baseball for betting on games.
An excerpt from Kostya Kennedy's new book on Pete Rose
Rose, 73, hasn't managed in professional baseball since 1989 with the Reds.
“I’m doing this because I love baseball,” Rose said in a statement released by the Bluefish. “I love young players because they bring you one thing you need in sports — enthusiasm. These young men are here working their butts off. They don’t have egos — they are hungry. They run hard and they play hard, all the time. In the late ’80s I think 33 of my players had their first Major League hit. I’m proud of that. Guys like Chris Sabo, Kurt Stillwell and Eric Davis. I love coaching young players like them.”
The Bluefish are not affiliated with any Major League Baseball teams. Their regular manager, Willie Upshaw, who played parts of 10 seasons in the majors, will assume a coaching role that day.
“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,” said Bluefish general manager Ken Shepard. "The Atlantic League was created to be a league of second chances."
Former Major Leaguers Shea Hillenbrand, Edgardo Alfonzo, Wily Mo Pena and Mariano Duncan have all played for the Bluefish, and countless others have played for other teams in the Atlantic League.
“I will tell each of the players in the clubhouse a few things before the game,” Rose 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. I out worked people, out hustled people, and had more determination. You have to prepare yourself right and the rest will take care of itself."SI VAULT: WULF: Bart Giamatti acted forcefully in banishing Pete Rose