Hustler Rose still can't close deal with Hall of Fame

Updated: July 29, 2005, 3:57 PM ET
By Gene Wojciechowski | ESPN.com

Two new members will be inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame this Sunday. As usual, Pete Rose won't be one of them. Another acceptance speech slides headfirst into the trash can.

First of all, I'd like to thank Pinky for that introduction. We've known each other a long time -- almost 4½ months -- and nobody in the cage at Imperial Palace, home of the original drive-thru Sports Book, pumps out those betting slips faster than Pinky. You need to fire away on a puppy that's getting a hook? Pinky's your man.

It's great to see a lot of my old teammates from the Big Marion Machine. Because of that (bend your middle and forefinger) "accounting" error, I spent five months at that federal mininum-security prison. Bet -- oops, that's what got me in trouble in the first place -- you didn't know Marion, Ill., is the birthplace of Ray Fosse, the guy I Hummered in the 1970 All-Star Game.

Anyway, there's Hotwire Haney (wave), and Dime Bag, and my roomie, WCC -- short for White Collar Crime. These fellas were the Pete Rose of prison lawn mowing.

Anybody from the Cincinnati Reds out there? I see Sparky. Johnny? Johnny, I know you're out there -- I can hear you breathing (wait for big laugh). Johnny must be having a hard time finding a parking space.

Maybe this is a good time to mention that during the speeches of Wade Boggs and Ryne Sandberg -- and I've heard them talk, you won't be missing much -- I'll be in the back signing anything you want. Anything except that damn Dowd Report.

Pete Rose at book signing
Joe Kohen/Getty ImagesPete Rose can't sell himself into the Hall of Fame.
For $82.99, you get an autographed ball. For $99.99, you get an autographed ball and a 1963 ROY inscription. For $155, you get an autographed ball and a HOF?? inscription. And if you come out to the rental car, I've got some real nice bobble-head product in the trunk.

Hey, the Hit King has to make a living, too.

While I'm thinking about it, I want to say congratulations to Wade and Ryno. I've got pine tar older than Boggsy's hair plugs (wait for big laugh). I've also got 1,246 more hits than him. We've both overcome some things: I got banned from baseball in 1989, and Boggsy got sued the same year by a woman he had an affair with. Hey, I know all about trading to a younger model (wink at Boggs).

And I remember Ryno when he was a rookie. Good kid. Guess it doesn't matter if your team never won anything.

But I'm not bitter about waiting so long to get in here. Like I wrote in my autobiography -- not the first one, "Pete Rose: My Story," where I said I didn't bet on baseball, but in the second one, "My Prison Without Bars," where I suddenly remembered that, oh, yeah, I did bet on baseball -- gambling is an addiction. And I was in denial.

I gotta admit I was worried I wasn't going to get in. Back in the day, when Paulie was running my bets to the bookies, the smart guys would have had me as Hall of Fame chalk. Then all of a sudden I've got the Yale president asking me questions and Paulie rats me out and the feds are looking at my tax returns like they're H&R Block. I go from lock to lockup. I was a 1,000-1 for the Hall, worse if I didn't get in this year on the baseball writers' vote. Those Veterans Committee guys have it out for Pete Rose.

I'm the first to admit I made a mistake. Well, not the first, but that's because I didn't think Giamatti had the goods on me. And for $92.99, I'll autograph a copy of my book -- not the first one, but the second one, the one with "Prison" in the title ... the one the publisher released the same week that Paul Molitor and Dennis Eckersley got voted into the Hall. And then you can read for yourself how sorry I am about lying for 13 years.

Also, I want to thank Commissioner Bud Selig for finally making me eligible for the Hall of Fame. As a token of my appreciation, I'd like to present the Commish this Pete Rose Ballpark Café coupon (pull envelope from suit pocket) for one free Hit King Steak the next time he's in Boynton Beach, Fla. The Hit King Steak, which goes for $14.95 on the menu, is a 10-ounce, choice-aged top sirloin grilled to perfection.

Well, they're telling me I've reached my time limit. This has been a special day for me, my family and my fans. It's taken a long time, but my plaque is finally up with the other 260 inductees in the Hall of Fame Gallery.

I hope all baseball fans can make the trip here to Cooperstown. And if you can't, I'll be at the Traverse City Mall this Wednesday from 4 to 6 p.m. Take advantage of my early bird signing special: an autographed Reds cap for $113.


Gene Wojciechowski is the senior national columnist for ESPN.com. You can contact him at gene.wojciechowski@espn3.com.

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