Listen: I don’t know shit about baseball. I majored in English. I have only ever sat through one half of a baseball game on a Monday night in Baltimore, and I don’t even remember who the Orioles were playing. So no, I was not familiar with Major League Baseball player Pete Rose prior to this weekend, and now I wish I could go back to not knowing.
Rose returned to Philadelphia on Sunday for a 1980 Philadelphia Phillies World Series championship celebration. And while the former All-Star was probably expecting to be unconditionally celebrated for his baseball prowess, the reporters on the scene had something else on their minds: Prior to the game, multiple journalists pressed Rose on the various sexual assault allegations charged against him in 2017, which included raping a 14 or 15-year-old in 1973 (Rose was 32 years old and married with kids at the time). As CNN reports, when Philadelphia Inquirer Alex Coffey brought the charges up, Rose replied, “No, I’m not here to talk about that. Sorry about that. It was 55 years ago, babe.” Yes, he called a female reporter asking about rape allegations “babe.”
When asked by a different reporter how the 2017 allegations “may affect how fans and women view him,” Rose said, “I’m going to tell you one more time. I’m here for the Philly fans. I’m here for my teammates, OK? I’m here for the Philly organization, and who cares what happened 50 years ago. You weren’t even born. So, you shouldn’t be talking about it, because you weren’t born. If you don’t know a damn thing about it, don’t talk about it.” The thing is, we had all been born by 2017 when these claims were made, and regardless of that—potentially having raped a child is not really something that should ever become irrelevant to a person’s life.
Rose, who is now 81 years old, has not had a stellar track record with Major League Baseball. In 1989, he accepted a lifetime ban from the sports organization for betting on Cincinnati Reds games, the team he was managing at the time. In 2015, John Dowd, the lawyer who found Rose guilty for said gambling, alleged during a radio interview that “Rose had committed statutory rape by routinely having sex with underage girls during his baseball career,” as reported by The Washington Post. In response, in 2017, Rose filed a defamation lawsuit against Dowd, which was later dismissed after “mutual consideration” between the parties. Doesn’t look great for him!
In the federal court filings collected over the course of the defamation lawsuit, Rose openly admitted to many of the allegations set against him, but legal loopholes cut him loose. In response to the allegations from 1973, Rose “claimed that he did not [sleep with the young girl] until 1975, when she was 16 years old,” which is the legal age of consent in Ohio. Oh, our bad, Pete. A big fucking round of applause for this guy. And because of the Ohio statute of limitations for childhood sexual abuse requires that an individual must come forward before 30 years old, Rose couldn’t retroactively be charged for these crimes. Keep in mind that the age of consent varies from state to state, and Rose refused to provide a list of all the underaged women he’d slept with over the course of his career in different states. Honestly, at this point, we’ve heard enough.
Coffey reported that after the ceremony, Rose offered to sign 1,000 baseballs for offending her, before giving her a half-hearted apology. Only if she gets to chuck them all at you, Pete.