Pete Rose was in Conover on Tuesday, a guest of the Hickory Sportsman’s Club. The club made Rose available to the media Tuesday afternoon. I thought about driving up, but I saw Rose this summer, and the image still is so perfect I didn’t want to clutter it.
I was in Las Vegas in June with my kids. You have your family vacations, we have ours. We were walking to Caesar’s Palace, and on the way passed through a huge mall that includes every top-of-the-line store you can envision, plus several huge mechanical top-of-the-line, but lower-level deities.
My older son wanted to spend some money, mine as it would turn out, since he had lost his playing blackjack. As we walked into the store we saw a counter in front. Sitting at the counter was a guy who looked a lot like Pete Rose, who became legendary for hitting a lot of singles and making a lot of terrible bets.
Next to Rose were two assistants and a man who acted like a carnival barker. Step right up ladies and gentlemen, walk into the sporting goods store, spend some money, lots of money, and you can pick up a voucher that will get you an autograph from Mr. Pete Rose!
Nobody did. Middle of the day, mall packed, and nobody was in line. Everybody had better things to do.
This is how I want to remember Pete: a guy selling his name to people who didn’t want to buy it.