Key Words: Pete Rose downplays sexual misconduct claims: ‘It was 55 years ago, babe’

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Baseball legend Pete Rose downplayed allegations that he had sex with an underage woman in the 1970s as, “It was 55 years ago, babe.”

That’s what the former pro baseball player and manager told a female Philadelphia Inquirer reporter over the weekend, while he was in Philadelphia making his first appearance on a Phillies home field since the franchise canceled its 2017 plans to honor him because of the woman’s claim that she had a sexual relationship with Rose when she was 14 or 15 years old in 1973. Rose’s lawyer had said the woman’s claims were unverified.

“It was 55 years ago, babe.”

— Pete Rose

Rose was in town as part of a celebration of the 1980 Phillies team that won a World Series title. But after initially getting booed on Sunday, the 81-year-old Rose received a standing ovation from Phillies fans.

Rose has long been a controversial figure. After a very successful playing career, he was banned from baseball in 1989 for betting on baseball while he was an MLB manager.

Rose acknowledged in 2017 that he did have a relationship with the woman, but he said it started when she was 16. He also said they never had sex outside Ohio, where the age of consent is 16. At the time, Rose was in his mid-30s, and was married with two kids.

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“They made me feel real good today,” Rose said of the cheers. “I don’t want to say I expected it. I guess I did expect it from Philly fans. That’s the way they are. They love their sports heroes.”

Rose later apologized to the reporter who asked the question following Sunday’s ceremony. The writer, Alex Coffey, tweeted that he said “sorry” and “will you forgive me if I sign 1,000 baseballs for you?”

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But then he added, “I’m going to tell you one more time: I’m here for the Philly fans, I’m here for my teammates, OK,” Rose said. “I’m here for the Philly organization and who cares what happened 50 years ago?”

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Last month, the Phillies defended the decision to invite Rose to participate in the ceremony.

“In planning the 1980 reunion, we consulted with Pete’s teammates about his inclusion,” the Phillies said in a statement. “Everyone wants Pete to be part of the festivities since there would be no trophy in 1980 without him. In addition, the club received permission from the Commissioner’s Office to invite Pete as a member of the championship team.”

A 17-time All-Star, Rose got 826 of his 4,256 hits during his five seasons playing for the Phillies from 1979-83.

In 1989, Rose agreed to the lifetime ban after an investigation by the MLB found that Rose placed numerous bets on the Cincinnati Reds to win from 1985-87 while playing for and managing the team, something that participants are banned from doing due to integrity of the game issues.

See also: NFL player Calvin Ridley bet $1,500 on NFL games — was suspended and may lose $11 million in salary

Rose has repeatedly asked MLB to end his lifetime ban, but has been unsuccessful.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

This article was originally published by Marketwatch.com. Read the original article here.

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