Rose Jr. endured heckling in minors

Updated: January 22, 2004, 3:37 AM ET
Associated Press

CINCINNATI -- Pete Rose's son was one of the first to hear him confess that he bet on baseball.

Pete Rose Jr. said Wednesday that his father told him the truth about two years ago. Rose Jr. doesn't recall the setting for their conversation, but remembers his reaction.

"What are you going to do? What can you say?" Rose Jr. said in an interview. "You've got to support him."

He accompanied his father to a bookstore Wednesday evening for a promotional appearance. The hits king signed copies of his latest autobiography, in which he confesses that he bet on Cincinnati Reds games while he was their manager.

Now 34, Rose Jr. has suffered throughout his minor league career as a result of his father's gambling scandal. At some ballparks, fans have wave dollar bills or made gambling jokes during games.

Rose's admission that he bet on baseball probably means more tough treatment for his son, who is under contract to play for the independent Joliet JackHammers of the Northern League this season.

"Every time I take the field, I hear something," Rose Jr. said. "That's just part of my life. Am I bitter about it? Yeah. I think people should (be abusive) at their own cost, but they get protected by that fence."

Rose has been criticized for not appearing to be remorseful as he finally acknowledged betting on baseball. His son said it's not in his nature to act that way.

"During the 44-game hitting streak, the 4,256 hits, the World Series -- you can never tell when anything's bothering him," Rose Jr. said. "That's what I try to do on the field when I'm playing. You never want to show any emotion. He's got the gift that he doesn't do it, and it's amazing."

As a late-season promotion in 1997, the Reds called up Rose Jr. so he could realize his lifelong dream of playing in the major leagues. His father was in the stands when he got his first hit.

Rose Jr. went only 2-for-14 in one month with the Reds and looked overmatched, striking out nine times. The Reds offered him a minor league deal for the next season with a chance to come to spring training, but he held out for a better deal.

He didn't get it. Instead, he wound up reporting with the rest of the minor leaguers, and has never come close to making it back to the majors with any team.

In "My Prison Without Bars," Rose said his son hasn't gotten a fair shake from major league teams.

"I can't prove that he's been discriminated against because of what happened to me," Rose said in the book, released two weeks ago. "But he's had trouble sticking with a team over the years, and it hasn't been because of a lack of talent. It's true that he hasn't had a breakthrough year when he needed it ... and he has had some untimely injuries."

Rose Jr. said he was unaware of the comments -- "I don't read books" -- and didn't care discuss it. He said he's not ready to give up on baseball.

"I'm going to play in the big leagues again," Rose Jr. said. "I don't care who it's with. I'm going to keep striving and working hard. I revamped my swing this offseason. My dad came in for two weeks in November. I feel really good about myself."


Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press

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