When I wore a younger man's clothes, Pete Rose was my idol.
I ran to first base after ball four and slid head first even if I didn't have to. I loved baseball and wanted to play the game just like Charlie Hustle.
As I got older and started a family of my own, I began to separate the player from the man.
When Rose admitted to gambling on baseball games, I wasn't sure how to react. Having spent more than a decade defending him, I felt betrayed. I also felt sorry for the man that I had admired for so long.
Rose is not a perfect man, nor did he ever claim to be. If you think you are a perfect person, you are a liar.
Between the white lines, Rose played the game the way it was meant to be played. He made the most of his physical abilities by never giving less than his best effort. That is what earns my admiration, and my four-year-old son's, even to this day.
My family had the opportunity to meet Rose while in Las Vegas this past weekend. My son was really excited to meet the man who got more hits than anyone in the history of baseball. He wanted to meet the man in the picture who was plowing over the catcher in the All-Star Game. He wanted to meet No. 14.
Rose adds "4256" to his autographs, indicating the total number of hits he collected. A product of the modern baseball era, my son wanted to know how many home runs Rose hit. I didn't know, but I knew Pete would.
My son asked the question, and the Pete responded, "A hundred and sixty. I hit doubles and triples. Anybody can hit home runs."
Anybody can play with the passion and intensity that Rose did too, but nobody does.