CHICAGO -- Calling himself "the best ambassador baseball has," Pete Rose remains hopeful that he can be reinstated off baseball's banned list and become eligible for the Baseball Hall of Fame.
"I'm the one that screwed that up, guys, so I can’t sit here and complain about that in Chicago, Illinois," Rose told a crowd Monday at Morton's The Steakhouse during a radio appearance with the Carmen & Jurko Show on ESPN 1000. "I'm the one who made the mistake. If I'm ever given a second chance, I'll be the happiest guy in the world."
Rose, baseball's all-time hits leader, was banned permanently from Major League Baseball in 1989 after a gambling investigation. Decades later, the ubiquitous memorabilia salesman, and now Fox Sports broadcaster, believes he's a valuable spokesman for the game.
"I believe, and I could be wrong, but I believe I'm the best ambassador baseball has," he said as the crowd applauded. "I get paid to do it, but 20 days a month, 4 ½ hours a day, I sign autographs in Las Vegas, Nevada. People come in to buy autographs and want to talk baseball. And I'm up to speed on what’s going on in baseball today. I watch at least two games every day, some days three. So I've pretty much got a handle on the good players in baseball and the good teams in baseball today. I'm probably the only retired player talking baseball right now here at Morton's. I'll be talking about it tomorrow. I'll be talking about it the next day. I'm not one of the guys who's going to bash the game."
The main person he needs to impress is new commissioner Rob Manfred, who has the power to reinstate Rose. Manfred has said he's open to reviewing the case, which didn't see much change under former commissioner Bud Selig.
Rose, who was honored with other Reds legends during the All-Star Game in Cincinnati, had a chance encounter with Manfred before the game. Manfred has said he remains open to talking to Rose about his situation.
"At the All-Star Game, when I was off the air [for Fox Sports], I had to go down to this room that was behind home plate and that's where Johnny [Bench], Joe [Morgan] and [Barry] Larkin were, and I got there and the commissioner had just left," Rose said. "And I said, 'Damn,' because I wanted to meet the commissioner. That was my whole purpose in going to Cincinnati for the All-Star festivities -- to meet the commissioner. About 10 minutes later, he came back and he shook my hand. He was very nice, very cordial, very classy. I think what I like most about the new commissioner he seemed to be a legitimate fan of the game of baseball."
As he does, Rose managed a light-hearted anecdote from the meeting.
"Joe said, 'Rob this and this and that,' and I said, 'Joe, you just called the commissioner, 'Rob,'" Rose said. "And Bench said, 'Hey Pete, me and Joe can call him Rob, you have to call him Mr. Commissioner."
But the big issue will be the information found by Outside the Lines that documents Rose's apparent gambling as a player at the end of his career.
Rose said he wouldn't talk about that new information until he meets formally with Manfred.
"What I'm going to do, and I'm not the kind of guy who ever ducks a question," Rose said. "But I'm going to meet with the commissioner in the near future, and believe me when I tell you I'm going to tell the commissioner everything that I did, good bad and indifferent, and we'll go from there."
Rose said he is "happy as hell" that Manfred plans to review his status, but didn't want to comment on anything that would affect that review.
When asked by radio host Tom Waddle, a Cincinnati native, if he could "comfort Reds fans" who have supported Rose by declaring he never bet against the Reds, the ex-Reds legend said, "No one has ever indicated that and no one ever will."
Rose remains close with several ex-teammates and does memorabilia shows with many other Hall of Famers. Does he think the inductees would support his candidacy?
"Oh yeah, sure; they're all my buddies," Rose said. "I came up in 1963. I played with 11 Hall of Famers. Of the living players in the Hall of Fame, there aren't too many guys that I didn’t play with or play against."