“Every day is Father’s Day for Long Island Ducks first baseman Pete Edward Rose Jr.” writes Newsday’s Barbara Barker, who fails to question which was the greater humiliation for P.J. — seeing his father portrayed by Tom Sizemore, or to have Carl Everett for a teammate.
For a good part of the past 19 seasons, Rose Jr. (above) has bused around the minor leagues, enduring some of the cruelest taunts in baseball to doggedly pursue the big-league dream that his father can’t.
“I love him to death,” Rose said before a recent game at Citibank Park. “He’s my idol, my inspiration, my everything. He’s my dad.”
In pursuit of the dream, Rose Jr. has left his wife, Shannon, and his two young children back home in Cincinnati this summer in order to make about $2,000 a month playing in the Atlantic League.
In pursuit of the dream, he has done everything possible to become a better player — even using GBL, an illegal performance-enhancing drug — which ultimately led to his serving 30 days in jail in Boone County, Ky., last year. In pursuit of the dream, he has stubbornly refused to hang up his cleats, even when players five years younger are being told that they are too old to entertain major-league dreams.
And it is this stick-to-itiveness his father clearly admires.
“He’s playing tremendous,” Rose Sr. said in a recent phone interview. “He loves to play the game. A lot of people think when you’re 36 or 37, you shouldn’t play. I can’t tell him not to play. I played until I was 45.
“He can play a couple of positions, if some team was smart, they’d pick him up. I’m surprised the Reds haven’t tried to.”
Rose Jr. is playing well; he was batting a team-leading .324 through Friday for the Ducks, who play in the independent Atlantic League. But Rose is also 37 and a decade removed from his one big-league experience, an 11-game stint with the Reds at the end of the 1997 season. The memory of that brief period as a major-leaguer — he got only one start and was 2-for-14 — is one of the things that keep him coming back.
P.J. Rose will never be the hit king, but he might be there the first time his son rides a bike or his daughter loses a tooth. In the offseason, Rose Jr. is the primary caretaker for his 2-year-old son and infant daughter, Isabella Marie. Shannon, who Rose Jr. has been with since high school, has a good job in marketing.
“My dad never changed a diaper,” Rose said. “My wife works 9 to 5. I change diapers, feed the kids, take them to swim lessons, watch Power Rangers, put them down for naps.”
He also plays ball with his son, Peter Edward Rose III, whom they also call P.J. Yes, in the end Rose Jr. decided to pass on the name that has brought him both so much grief and so much joy over the years. And his father, of course, was not surprised.
Said the hit king: “I’m surprised he didn’t name his daughter Pete Rose the IV.”