SARASOTA, Fla. -- Pete Rose always liked nothing better than talking about hitting. His one-hour talk Wednesday to some attentive Cincinnati minor leaguers, however, may have hurt his bid to reverse his lifetime ban.
Rose, standing on a practice field about 50 yards from a batting cage recently named for him, gave an impromptu motivational speech to nearly 100 minor leaguers, including son Pete Jr., an infielder with the Reds' Indianapolis farm club.
Baseball said the talk violated the lifetime ban Rose agreed to nearly nine years ago.
"Pete Rose was in clear violation of the agreement," said Rich Levin, the spokesman for acting commissioner Bud Selig. "We are waiting for a complete written report from the Reds, at which time we will take appropriate action."
The Reds may be fined as a result of Rose's speech, a baseball official said, speaking on condition he not be identified.
Rose, who agreed to accept the ban following baseball's investigation of his gambling, applied for reinstatement Sept. 26. Selig and the ruling executive council haven't discussed his bid, and Selig, according to several officials, isn't inclined to allow Rose back in the game.
Wednesday's speech may turn into another strike against Rose, the baseball official said.
Rose had received permission from the team to watch his son work out, but there was no prior indication he would make a speech. Rose is welcome at ballparks but can have access only to areas fans are allowed in. Reds president John Allen had said Rose would receive "no special treatment above and beyond Joe Fan."
Baseball's career hits leader said it was the first time he had stood before a professional team since he resigned as the Reds manager at the conclusion of his gambling probe in 1989.
Rose, a 17-time All-Star and the National League's MVP in 1973, agreed to the lifetime ban on Aug. 23, 1989. The ban also has excluded Rose from the Hall of Fame because players under suspension cannot be listed on the ballot.
"I'm not here to cause any trouble," Rose said after receiving a loud ovation from the players, including his son and Craig Griffey, the son of former teammate Ken Griffey. "I want to help save baseball in Cincinnati. It doesn't matter who you're talking to ... just speak the truth and tell it the way it is."
It was not clear if a Reds employee asked Rose to give the talk. Rose talked at length beforehand with Donnie Scott, the Reds' minor league coordinator, and shook hands with Scott immediately afterward.
Wearing a white pullover shirt and jeans, and leaning on a bat, Rose often used profanity-filled humor to implore players to work harder than those in other organizations, urging them to, "Win and get the Cincinnati Reds back on the map."
"Always expect to win," he said during the talk, which followed an hour-long session with reporters. "Don't be like the Cubs. You know what God told the Cubs, don't you? `Don't do anything until I get back."'
He also reminded the young players, who sat mostly in rapt attention, that "the girls like the .300 hitters, the 20-game winners," and that playing baseball "beats working for a living" because a lifetime of wealth can be earned in one season.
"A young guy has a good year now, he gets a $4 million raise. My first year I got a $5,000 raise and I thought I was stealing," he said. "I'm getting paid to play baseball!"
He also offered this advice to humor Reds owner Marge Schott and her ever-present Saint Bernard: "If you get a chance to pet the dog, pet the dog!"
His son, who was recalled briefly by the Reds late last season, said he never tires of hearing his dad talk about baseball.
"I've heard it all before, but it's still fantastic," he said.
Until giving the talk, Rose had been persona non grata in organized baseball, his contact with the sport limited to watching his son play or talking at fantasy camps.
During his investigation of Rose, baseball investigator John Dowd concluded Rose bet $2,000 per game on the Reds to win from 1985-87 while he was their manager.
In April 1990, Rose pleaded guilty to two counts of filing false income taxes returns by failing to report $354,968 in income from autograph appearances, memorabilia sales and gambling. He repaid the IRS $366,041 in back taxes, interest and penalties, and served five months at a federal prison in Marion, Ill. Rose then spent three months in a halfway house and performed 1,000 hours of community service.
Shortly before Rose wrapped up his talk, he gave this advice to the Reds farmhands:
"Pay your ... taxes, by the way, and don't bet on `Monday Night Football,' either," Rose said.
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