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Friday, January 9, 2004
Turnout at signings a good omen for book sales

By Darren Rovell
ESPN.com

NEW YORK -- Doubts that Pete Rose's second autobiography would sell out its first printing of 500,000 books are quickly fading.

In Rose's two book signings -- one in Ridgewood, N.J., on Thursday and another near Wall Street in New York City on Friday -- Rose has signed more than 2,500 books and one publishing insider told ESPN.com that the book's publisher, Rodale Press, already has ordered multiple printings.

Hundreds of people filled Borders bookstore on 100 Broadway on Friday waiting for Rose's autograph and chance to meet baseball's all-time hit king, who admits to betting on baseball -- for the first time since he was banned in August of 1989 -- in his book "Prison Without Bars."

The line zig-zagged between book shelves and continued onto another floor.

"I would have bought 10 to get signed, but the limit was five," said Bruce Pelaccio of Peekskill, N.Y., who drove an hour to have his moment with Rose and pick up books for two brothers and two neighbors.

Pelaccio didn't pass up the chance to make small talk with "Charlie Hustle," who was seated at a table next to two handlers, one wearing a Phillies cap.

"Thanks for all the memories, Pete," Pellacio said. "You're doing the right thing with this. You should be in the Hall of Fame."

"Thank you," Rose replied.

"To see the outpouring, the regular 'Joe Fan,' is one of the most gratifying parts of this process for me," said Jeremy Katz, executive editor of Men's Health Books for Rodale, which reportedly gave Rose a $1 million advance for the telling of his story. "The public is heat-seeking for this guy."

Throughout the signing, Rose had his share of laughs and was gracious to those buying his new book. The flashes by the 20 or so photographers seemingly never stopped.

"Mr. Rose, just give us a little eye while you're signing so that we can have an action shot," said one photographer, as if action shots can even be taken at a book signing.

"The media was outrageous," said Dave Cohen, a 28-year-old from Wayne, N.J., who also bought five books. "They acted like he's never signed a book before."

Rose wasn't signing everything for fans that bought his books. No memorabilia and no copies of his 1989 book, "Pete Rose: My Story," which claimed he never bet on baseball. That book sold 65,000 copies.

There was very little uproar over Rose's new version of his betting story after 14 years of lying or the fact that the book was released just days after the Hall of Fame Class of 2004 was announced.

That is, save for one man a few feet from where Rose was signing who loudly said, "It's a sick commentary on our society to see a line like this."

Luckily, for Rose and Rodale, the majority of the people in the store were there in support of him.

The table in the front of the store, piled high with books at 11:30 a.m., was down to its final copies two and a half hours later.

Darren Rovell, who covers sports business from ESPN.com, can be reached at Darren.rovell@espn3.com.