Pete Rose dismisses rape accusations in return to Phillies: 'It was 55 years ago, babe'

Pete Rose returned to the field in Philadelphia on Sunday, and he refused to address the sexual assault allegation made against him that prompted the Phillies to scrap plans to honor him five years ago.

The 81-year-old also completely dismissed Alex Coffey of the Philadelphia Inquirer when she asked him about the message that his presence at the game made to women.

“No, I’m not here to talk about that,” Rose replied to Coffey. “Sorry about that. It was 55 years ago, babe.”

Rose spoke with Coffey again after the ceremony, which honored the Phillies’ 1980 World Series team. That ceremony was delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Rose approached Coffey and asked if he had offended her with his comments while claiming that she was trying to “attack” him. He then offered to “sign 1,000 baseballs” for her before finally saying “sorry” at the end of the conversation.

Rose was accused of having a relationship with a girl in Cincinnati for several years starting in 1973. The woman said her relationship with Rose started before she had turned 16, which was below the age of consent at the time in Ohio.

“Sometime after that, Pete Rose and I began meeting at a house in Cincinnati,” the woman said in a sworn statement in 2017, via the Inquirer. “It was at that house where, before my 16th birthday, Pete Rose began a sexual relationship with me. This sexual relationship lasted for several years. Pete Rose also met me in locations outside of Ohio where we had sex.”

Rose also said in court filings, per the report, that he had sex with the woman but believed that she was 16 at the time. Rose was 32 years old in 1973, and was married with two children.

Rose can’t be charged with statutory rape now, however, as the statute of limitations has passed.

The Phillies addressed their decision to invite Rose to the ceremony last month.

“In planning the 1980 reunion, we consulted with Pete’s teammates about his inclusion,” the team said on July 24. “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.”

Rose was banned from baseball for life due to a gambling scandal. His appearance on Sunday marked the first time he’s been back on the field since the lifetime ban.

Rose was pressed by the Associated Press about his comments to Coffey, and doubled down.

“I’m going to tell you one more time. I’m here for the Philly fans. I’m here for my teammates,” he said. “I’m here for the Phillies organization. And who cares what happened 50 years ago. You weren’t even born. So you shouldn’t be talking about it, because you weren’t born. If you don’t know a damn thing about it, don’t talk about it.”

The Phillies addressed Rose’s presence again on Sunday, too. They also said there aren’t any plans to include him in their Wall of Fame

“We are not condoning, forgiving or forgetting Pete’s behavior,” a team spokesperson said, via the Inquirer. “We understand some people will criticize our decision to include Pete. We understand the basis of that criticism because it is precisely that basis which caused us to immediately rescind recognizing Pete on the Phillies Wall of Fame when the allegations were disclosed publicly only six days before Pete’s scheduled induction. The Wall of Fame is a singularly personal honor, and for the Phillies, his past off-field behavior undermines his baseball achievements which achievements would otherwise give rise to that award.”

Former Philadelphia Phillies player Pete Rose
Pete Rose completely dismissed all questions about his statutory rape allegations on Sunday. (Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)