Pete Rose was the first person to tell Mike Schmidt he was a future Hall of Famer. Now Schmidt wants Rose to join him in Cooperstown.
“Pete mentioned the Hall of Fame to me in 1980 when we were teammates in Philadelphia,” Schmidt said Tuesday. “That’s the first time it really dawned on me that I might be in there someday.”
Schmidt, considered by many to be the greatest third baseman ever, was elected to the hall on Monday. He thinks Rose, who is banned from baseball for betting on the sport, deserves his own plaque.
“His exile has gone on long enough,” Schmidt said during a news conference. “Pete Rose is baseball. He needs to be in the Hall of Fame.”
Rose, the majors’ career hits leader, is ineligible for the Hall of Fame because of his lifetime ban. He can apply for reinstatement, but probably won’t try until baseball gets a new commissioner.
Schmidt said he’ll invite Rose to the induction ceremony on July 30, although he doesn’t know what kind of welcome he would get.
“He may have to sit beyond the fence,” Schmidt joked. “I’m not sure if he’s allowed in the city limits of Cooperstown.”
In a telephone interview from Florida, Rose expressed reluctance about attending the ceremony because “I don’t want to take any attention away from Mike.” But Rose, who will be in Cooperstown for a card show the two previous days, said he would stay for the induction if that’s what Schmidt wants.
“I’m flattered that he would ask,” said Rose, who owns a restaurant in Boca Raton, Fla., and hosts a nationally syndicated radio show. “Mike Schmidt is the best player I ever played with, and I played with some great ones.”
Schmidt said Rose’s leadership was the main reason the Phillies won their first World Series in 1980. Rose had already won two World Series in Cincinnati, where he spent 16 seasons before joining Philadelphia in 1979.
“He said, ‘Hop on my shoulder and I’ll show you how to get through the playoffs,”’ Schmidt said. “Pete was our rock.”
Unlike Rose, who played with flair and fire, Schmidt rarely showed his emotions on the field. Some fans thought he was nonchalant, but Schmidt said his outward cool masked his inner feelings.
“Inside, I was constantly churning, uncomfortable, insecure,” he said. “I never went into a game in my life where I didn’t have butterflies.”