The Pete Rose “Roasting A Legend” event held Saturday at Hard Rock Casino Cincinnati produced plenty of laughs — and the topics of gambling and betting on sports were definitely not off-limits.
Rose, who is banned from Major League Baseball for betting on games while he was the manager of the Reds in the 1980s, joked about a number of topics, including gambling.
“Is there anybody in this room tonight that gambles? Raise your hand,” said Rose, looking out to the sellout crowd that responded with plenty of upraised arms and a roaring applause.
Rose responded, “Hey, my kind of crowd.”
Roasting a Cincinnati legend
The event was hosted by retired Reds broadcaster Marty Brennaman, and Rose was joined on stage by former “Big Red Machine” teammates George Foster and Ken Griffey Sr. Banter went back and forth among the Reds legends and Brennaman. They joked about their playing days as Reds when they helped lead Cincinnati to back-to-back World Series championships in 1975 and ’76.
Pete Rose is in town tonight for an event. He did a media session with George Foster, Ken Griffey and Marty Brennaman.
When asked what he would do if he were manager of the #Reds, Pete said, "Go to church every day."
This is the rest of his answer defending David Bell. pic.twitter.com/SIH6WrL7FX
— Joe Danneman (@FOX19Joe) June 12, 2022
Rose, 81, did most of the talking and cracked most of the jokes throughout the night. But the all-time hits leader also spoke seriously at times about his career and about baseball in general. When asked about gambling on baseball during his time as Reds manager, Rose didn’t mince words about his actions that have prevented him from being inducted into the Hall of Fame.
“When I gambled, I screwed up,” Rose said. “My calculations tell me that my gambling cost me $100 million in the bank.”
No avoiding talk about gambling
Brennaman spoke about the irony of how professional sports leagues today, including Major League Baseball, are partners with mobile sportsbooks while Rose remains banned from baseball.
“Don’t you find it amazing that we’re roasting him in a casino?” Brennaman also noted. “Let me tell you what’s that like. That’s like roasting Jerry Springer in a brothel.”
Rose, a native of Cincinnati, wore his signature all-white Reds baseball cap for the roast. He said he accepts his fate for gambling on baseball during his time with MLB.
“If you make mistakes, you’ve got to pay for them,” Rose said. “I’ve been suspended 33 years. That’s a long time to be suspended. You can’t get away from history. You have to live with it.
“Things happen for a reason, but I wish I hadn’t bet on baseball.”
There were a number of moments during the evening that stood out and drew laughs from the crowd, including when Rose’s cellphone rang and he showed his phone to the crowd. It showed it was “Mr. Oct” calling him. He didn’t answer the call coming in from Hall of Famer Reggie Jackson.
“He must want to borrow some money,” Rose said. “Reggie’s the best.”
Longtime Big Red Machine buddies
Another moment that brought laughter came when Foster offered praise to Rose for being the all-time leader in hits, games played, and singles. Shortly after Rose stated he had “more records than Elvis,” Foster responded with his own thoughts about Rose’s career numbers: “All the numbers that you think about it, he needs but one number, 1-800-GAMBLE,” Foster said.
Griffey responded to Foster: “You’ve been waiting all night to say that.”
About halfway through the event there was a moment when the conversation among the teammates seemed to hit a lull and the crowd was noticeably quiet. That’s when “Charlie Hustle” picked things up with a timely comment.
“Guys, you’ve got to pick it up, because right now we’re at the stage where we’ve got to give them $20 back on their tickets,” Rose said. “That’s two hands of blackjack downstairs.”