Courtesy of TLC
But despite all of his accomplishments, he’s remembered for just one thing — gambling on baseball. Pete’s bad decision to bet on the game (including his own team) got him banned from the game and made him “permanently ineligible” from induction into the Baseball Hall of Fame.
And still the 71-year-old took his thirtysomething bride-to-be, Kiana Kim, and her two kids to Cooperstown on their new reality show Pete Rose: Hits & Mrs. At a recent press event, Pete and Kim talked about the emotionally charged trip.
As Kiana recounted, they took her two children, Cassie (14) and Ashton (11) to the institution that honors the national pastime. “[Pete] goes every year. He signs autographs there.”
But the Cincinnati Reds legend wouldn’t enter the building. According to Kiana, “Pete wouldn’t go in. So he walked us to the front and it was kind of bittersweet because he walked us up and he goes, ‘You know what, you guys just go in.’ And then he went back and hung out with his friends. And to me, I got real teary eyed. He just won’t go in. Not until his time.”
So Kiana, Cassie and Ashton took the tour on their own. It proved to be an enlightening experience. Kiana remarked, “They got to really know the history of baseball and then his part of Cooperstown and how he affects the Hall of Fame without him being it. He’s in the museum and all his artifacts are there, except he doesn’t have the award. So it was a very empty feeling and my kids were like, ‘Why?’”
Pete and Kiana had to sit the kids down and explain his great mistake. Kiana recalled, “There’s an episode when we’re at dinner in Cooperstown and he explains to the kids. Because they’re like, ‘Pete, you’re all over the place but you’re not there.’ So he sits down and tells them the whole story of what he actually did and his perception of everything that went down. And the kids, they’re so young and they don’t understand, but at the same time they needed some type of clarification.”
Not that the kids hadn’t already had some inkling of Pete’s marred past. “My sons 11 and he goes to school and they’re like, ‘Well, Pete’s the one that got kicked out,’” Kiana acknowledged, “And my son, Ashton’s like, ‘ What do you mean kicked out?’ He doesn’t understand that. So Pete had to explain to him, ‘I got suspended because of what I did. And don’t you ever do it or I’ll kill you.’”
That frank manner of speaking about what went down is certainly Pete’s style. As he conceded about not being a part of all of the Hall of Fame’s official events, “I don’t know how it feels but I’m not in that parade because it’s my fault. It’s not your fault. It’s not Bart Giamatti’s fault. It’s not Bud Selig’s fault… I’m the one that screwed up. So why am I going to get mad at you or anybody else?”
Instead of dwelling on the past, the once great player is keeping his eye on the future. “All you can do is keep your nose clean, be a good citizen and maybe someday you’ll get a second chance.”
He added, “The guy who shot the Pope got a second chance, I think. It don’t matter how long it takes. I’m in no hurry. I’m in no hurry, unless you know something I don’t know. So you just have to try to be a productive citizen. And live your life and hope some day somebody calls you and says, ‘Hey, we want to give you a second [chance].’ I won’t need a third. I won’t need a third.”
One think Rose won’t do it gamble on the sport he so clearly loves ever again. he vowed, “Believe me, nobody’s going to be find me betting baseball… What’s that old cliché, ‘I don’t bet on baseball because I know too much about it.’”
In the meantime, Kiana will remain positive about Pete’s chances of induction in the future. She revealed, “I just say, ‘You’re going to make it. You’re going to be there and it’s going to be before your time — before you’re gone. So just don’t give it up. Let’s fight this thing.’ Pete’s more like, ‘It’s all right. I’ve got my fans. People know what I did and they appreciate me.’ But for me and his fans it’s not enough. We feel that it’s very unjust because it’s been so much time passed. We want to see him more in the Hall of Fame than he does.”
But still no one needs to worry about Pete. As Kiana pointed out, “He’s happy with his life and he’s at a good place where he’s accepted it. And if it happens, he’ll be extremely happy. And if it doesn’t, he doesn’t want people feeling sorry for him. He’s got a very positive attitude. He knows what he’s accomplished.”
Catch the couple in their happy lives on Pete Rose: Hits and Mrs. when it airs on TLC every Monday night at 10 p.m. EST/9 p.m. Central.