The Bridgeport Bluefish, an independent league team in the Atlantic League, made a bold move Saturday in announcing that banned MLB legend Pete Rose will manage the team for one game this month.
A video of a press conference was posted to Bridgeport's Facebook page, and the team broke the news through its Twitter account:
Rose's lone guest appearance in the Bluefish dugout is scheduled for Monday, June 16, against the Lancaster Barnstormers in the friendly confines of The Ballpark at Harbor Yard.
A news release arrived through the club's official website, which documented what Rose had to say regarding his return to baseball:
I'm doing this because I love baseball. I love young players because they bring you one thing you need in sports – enthusiasm. These young men are here working their butts off. They don't have egos – they are hungry. They run hard and they play hard, all the time. In the late '80's I think thirty-three of my players had their first Major League hit. I'm proud of that. Guys like Chris Sabo, Kurt Stillwell and Eric Davis. I love coaching young players like them.
There is no shortage of passion stemming from Rose's love for the game. This is the man who earned the nickname "Charlie Hustle" for his relentless effort, as he even sprinted to first base when he drew a walk.
The prolific hitter divulged what he will communicate to his players and how he will relate his own experiences to their respective situations:
I will tell each of the players in the clubhouse a few things before the game. I will look at each of them and say that every one of you guys has more ability right now than I did at 18 years old. I was told that I was too slow, didn't have a strong arm, and didn't have power, but I got an opportunity and I worked the rest of it out. I out worked people, out hustled people, and had more determination. You have to prepare yourself right and the rest will take care of itself. You set your mind right and winning will fall into place and there is no better motivation than to win. It’s why you play the game – to win.
Bridgeport general manager Ken Shepard expressed enthusiasm in bringing Rose in.
"This is one of the biggest and influential announcements in not only franchise history, but in professional baseball in the last 25 years as well," said Shepard. "We encourage everyone to come out to the ballpark on June 16 to experience this special occasion."
Rose, 73, is baseball's all-time hits leader with 4,256. He is not in the Hall of Fame because of a lifetime ban from the league for his involvement in betting on his own team's games. He was banned in 1989. Comcast SportsNet Bay Area's John Middlekauff recently spoke to Rose and feels his ban should be lifted:
This move by the Bluefish certainly creates a splash around their organization and also gives Rose an outlet to get back into the game, albeit for a very brief period of time. Whether it has any bearing on his potential reinstatement to MLB remains to be seen, but there's a strong precedent suggesting that it won't.
If the decision to bring in Rose turns out to be harmful for public relation purposes, there shouldn't be any lingering impact. This is a one-game arrangement and figures to be a win-win situation for both Rose and the Bluefish. There are few better ways for a minor league team to enhance its profile than welcoming one of the most polarizing figures of America's pastime to the fold.