​Pete Rose still hopes for baseball's forgiveness


The former star known as "Charlie Hustle" - banned for life for gambling - says he believes his record-breaking career will trump his mistakes.

CBS News

Pete Rose is a baseball legend whose remarkable accomplishments are all overshadowed by the day 25 years ago when he was banned from baseball for betting on his own team's games. What does he think now of his astonishing fall from grace? He talks with our Lee Cowan:

"I had more pleasurable nights in baseball than anybody that ever played the game," said Pete Rose. "I'm part of history. I'm part of history, you know? And there's no question in my mind, I'll die the Hit King. I will die the Hit King."

No matter what you think of Pete Rose, you can't deny what an electric moment it was on September 11th, 1985, when Rose became baseball's all-time major league hit leader -- a record that still stands today.

And yet, the debate over whether his cardinal sin -- gambling on baseball -- should keep him out of the Hall of Fame for life remains as fierce as ever.

Though there's little debate in Cincinnati. In the Queen City, Pete Rose is king. "Pete Rose: Hall of Fame, all day long, best ever, to play the game," said one Reds fan.

Pete Rose of the Cincinnati Reds at bat against the Atlanta Braves in Atlanta, Aug. 2, 1978. Rose's 4,256 career hits are a major league record. AP
He still goes to the Opening Day, and whenever he shows up on the Jumbotron, Reds fans go wild.

He grew up five miles from the Cincinnati ball park, often ditching school as a kid to see the Reds play.

"I'd be up there, where I needed oxygen," he laughed. "I mean, I didn't care. Up there is better than home, and up there is better than going to school!"

He said school was never his thing, except to play football. "My biggest love in high school was football," he said. "Not baseball. I was a better football player than I was a baseball player."

So how did he end up on a big-league baseball diamond? "Well, I was lucky, because I had an uncle who was a scout for the Reds. This is sad to say. But if I had not had an uncle who was a scout for the Reds, I would have never got an opportunity to play for the Reds."

The young ball player. Courtesy Pete Rose

Maybe he over-compensated. He played so hard, he got a nickname: Charlie Hustle. He won games,. but he didn't always win friends in the clubhouse.

Cowan asked, "What was it like your rookie year? I mean, were you accepted by the rest of the team?"

"I wasn't, I wasn't," replied Rose. "You throw this brash, young kid in there from Cincinnati. And I was brash. I wasn't cocky, but I was very confident, the way I played."

"You weren't cocky, though?"

"No, I wasn't cocky. If it was cocky, it wasn't . . . well, maybe I was cocky. But I wasn't arrogant. It's a big difference!"

Rose was called up to the major leagues in 1963. He lived with his parents his rookie year, in a house at the end of Braddock Street on Cincinnati's West Side, where Rose showed Cowan a stand of trees: "Where all those trees are, used to be a little ball field for me. Right in the backyard."

It sits just above the banks of the Ohio River, where as a kid Rose worked on a ferry: Boone County No 7. "It was more or less the joy of riding the ferry back and forth, you know? Like a river captain!"