(Reuters) - Pete Rose, Major League Baseball’s all-time hits leader, is still serving a lifetime ban for having gambled on baseball but on Tuesday he was honored on the field prior to the All-Star Game in Cincinnati.
Rose, who grew up in Cincinnati and earned the nickname “Charlie Hustle” for his aggressive style of play while with the Reds, joined Johnny Bench, Joe Morgan and Barry Larkin in being voted by fans as Cincinnati’s ‘Franchise Four’.
He walked out last to join the three Hall of Famers on the Great American Ball Park diamond and Rose, who is not eligible for Cooperstown after being banned in 1989, was treated to a long, stirring standing ovation.
Later, the four men voted MLB’s Greatest Living players were introduced, led out by Hank Aaron, second on the all-time home run list and with a record 25 appearances in the All-Star Game.
He was followed by two-time Most Valuable Player Bench, Dodgers’ pitching great Sandy Koufax, who threw four no-hitters, and the Giants’ Willie Mays, whose power, speed and fielding prowess led to his playing in 24 MidSummer Classics.
But the emotional highlight of the pregame festivities came with the introduction of the 74-year-old Rose, who played from 1963 to 1986 and amassed a major league record 4,256 hits.
Three years after he retired as a player, Reds manager Rose agreed to a permanent ban from baseball amid accusations he gambled on games while playing and managing for the Reds.
Rose denied for nearly 15 years that he gambled on baseball, the game’s cardinal sin since 1919 when members of the Chicago White Sox conspired to throw the World Series.
He finally admitted in his 2004 autobiography to making baseball wagers when he was Cincinnati’s manager but insisted he never bet against his team.
Last month an ESPN investigative program reported it had seen evidence that he had bet on games as a player.
Rose has said he will formally apply to be reinstated by MLB, while Commissioner Rob Manfred has said he expects to meet with him.
Reporting by Larry Fine in New York; Editing by Greg Stutchbury