Pete Rose -- when the news was all good

The year was 1979 and Pete Rose had just set a record: becoming the highest paid athlete in team sports

Legendary "60 Minutes" producer Joe Wershba and Morley Safer produced this profile of Pete Rose mostly because of money. That is, the money Rose got for leaving the Cincinnati Reds and signing a four-year deal with the Philadelphia Phillies: a whopping $800,000 a year. Of course, that kind of money is minor league stuff these days. Alex Rodriguez of the Yankees makes $615,000 a week. Enjoy this peek at Pete, ten years before the gambling scandal brought him down.

It's a signature Wershba piece. Joe passed away this week, at the age of 90. For "60 Minutes Overtime," Morley Safer shares his thoughts on the loss of his long-time friend and producer:

When I described Joe Wershba as an "old school reporter" in the CBS obituary a few days ago, I was harking back to the heyday of CBS News, to the era of the gentleman journalist. Joe embodied that time and that standard set by Edward R. Murrow and the so-called Murrow Boys, a brigade of men including Charles Collingwood, Howard K. Smith, William Shirer and Winston Burdett.

Joe and I worked together on more than 50 stories over a ten year period. Together they make up a crazy quilt of life in America in the 1970s and '80s: the phony casus belli leading into war in Vietnam; two joyful profiles of leading characters in our summer game, baseball as played by Pete Rose and reported by Red Smith; examinations of the lives of the sublime, Anne Morrow Lindbergh and Captain Grace Hopper, to the ridiculous, William Loeb and Oral Roberts. From West Bank eruptions to the golden memories that embrace the nursing home for aged Hollywood stars. Bandits, plutocrats, artists, Nobel Laureates and mob enforcers all became part of Joe's Private collection of characters.

Obituary: Joe Wershba dies at 90

And he treated all of them, villains and heroes, with the same gentle grace, as if they were dinner guests in his home.

But he was definitely not a pushover. He wanted all the tough questions asked, but asked respectfully...

The light touch, he believed could be more probing, more successful than belligerent browbeating. To this day, when I'm writing or preparing questions for a "60 Minutes" story, sooner or later I ask myself, "What would Joe think of this?"

Not a bad question for any reporter to live by.

-- Morley Safer

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