Pete Rose may be the hit king, but he was no hit with some kids and parents at the U.S. Army Reds Legends Baseball Camp last week.
“It was a complete embarrassment,” said Staff Sgt. Steven Tischer, commander of the Colerain-Highland Ridge U.S. Army Recruiting Station that sponsored the baseball camp for 7- to 14-year-olds. “You don’t swear in front of kids, that’s just common sense. He dropped the F-bomb and the S-bomb. He told them winning is everything and if you get second place you’re just losers.”
I asked Tischer about Rose’s July 26 visit after getting an e-mail from Renee Collins of Mason, who went to the camp with her son and some of his teammates.
“It was such a great week,” she said. “My son goes to camps a lot and this was by far the best. It was so wonderful except for that one hour.”
She said Rose’s talk was “weird” – something that “might have been appropriate for a Kiwanis Club, but not for kids.”
“He asked the kids to just ‘forgive his French,’ but there was hardly a word they didn’t hear from the bad language dictionary,” she said. “When he arrived with his entourage, it was like Elvis had just entered the building.”
Among the remarks Collins heard from Rose:
“His comment that he was (bleeped) off that Marge didn’t leave him any money in her will and that she left it all to the zoo. His comment about how Marge loved to smoke and she would have smoked in her sleep if someone was there to hold her cigarette all night. His comment that he saw Joe DiMaggio in the shower and he saw more of him than Marilyn Monroe ever did. His comment on a good friend of his that was a gambler – and how I could go on.”
The Army recruiters used baseball to teach great life lessons, Collins said. Players such as Jim O’Toole and Bronson Arroyo were wonderful and each used their 20 minutes to give the kids positive advice, such as the value of playing catch in the backyard with their dads, she said. Rose rambled for an hour until some parents groaned and the kids began to pull grass and chatter.
“It was like an uncle at Thanksgiving you want to stick in a back corner,” Collins said. “The kids were very uncomfortable. They said the only thing they got out of it was that Pete Rose has a potty mouth.”
Tischer said, “The whole crowd was aghast, but kind of laughed, like ‘Oh my God, I can’t believe he just said that.’”
Collins and Tischer were both surprised that news stories made Rose look like the star of the camp.
TV reports showed him speaking, but there was no audio of his comments, Collins said. She sent me a clip from a Fairfield paper: “Pete Rose cracks up campers, parents.”
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