January 21, 2015 / 12:12 AM / 3 years ago

Rose says best from Steroids Era belong in Hall of Fame

(Reuters) - All-time hits leader Pete Rose hopes he will get a second chance from incoming commissioner Rob Manfred after suffering a 25-year ban from Major League Baseball and a place in the Hall of Fame for gambling on the sport.

Manfred will take over as MLB chief from Bud Selig, whose 22-year reign ends on Saturday.

"I don't know Mr. Manfred," Rose, 73, told Reuters in a telephone interview on Tuesday.

"For every player in his or her sport the ultimate goal is to get into the Hall of Fame. But I'm the one who screwed up. If I'm ever given a second chance ... I'd be the happiest guy in the world."

The ban made Rose ineligible for Cooperstown enshrinement.

Rose was barred for life from baseball by Commissioner Bart Giamatti in 1989 after an investigation into allegations he had broken baseball's cardinal rule by gambling on games while manager of the Cincinnati Reds.

The man whose intensity earned him the nickname "Charlie Hustle" as a player, proclaimed his innocence for 15 years before admitting in 2004 he had bet on games though never against his own team.

Rose said he had only himself to blame and showed no signs of bitterness.

"I'd say congratulations to Bud (Selig) for the job he did, and wish Mr. Manfred nothing but success in carrying on what Bud was trying to do to bring fans to the ball park," said Rose, promoting Myoflex, a joint, muscle and arthritis pain reliever.

Rose still makes a living as a baseball celebrity and regularly goes to Cooperstown during the induction weekend to sign autographs and sell memorabilia.

A three-time World Series champion with Cincinnati and Philadelphia, Rose thinks some others denied entry in the Hall -- due to links to performance enhancing drugs -- belong.

"Would I vote for Roger Clemens? You're damn right I would. Would I vote for Barry Bonds? You're damn right I would. These guys are seven-time MVPs, seven-time Cy Young Award winner," said Rose.

With this year's All-Star game coming to his hometown of Cincinnati, Rose would love to be invited.

"I'd be the happiest guy in the world if I'm involved in some way along with ... all the other guys on the Big Red Machine," he said.

"The ball game will be played on Pete Rose Way," he added about the street bordering the Great American Ball Park.

Reporting by Larry Fine in New York; Editing by Frank Pingue

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