Pete Rose is returning to the dugout for a day to manage an independent league team.
Rose, banished from the major leagues for betting on baseball, will return to the bench for the first time since 1989 when he serves as manager of the Bridgeport Bluefish on June 16.
“I’m doing this because I love baseball,” Rose said Saturday. “I love young players because they bring you one thing you need in sports — enthusiasm. These young men are here working their butts off. They don’t have egos — they are hungry. They run hard and they play hard, all the time.”
The Bluefish, who are not affiliated with a major league club, will face the Lancaster Barnstormers in Rose’s one-game stint. Rose was barred for life from baseball in 1989 when it was determined that he bet on games while playing and managing the Cincinnati Reds.
Because Bridgeport is an independent league team, Major League Baseball’s ban does not apply. Bluefish general manager Ken Shepard called the Atlantic League “a league of second chances.”
Shepard touted Rose’s appearance as “one of the biggest and (most) influential announcements in not only franchise history but in professional baseball in the last 25 years. We encourage everyone to come out to the ballpark on June 16 to experience this special occasion.”
Bridgeport manager Willie Upshaw, a former major league player, will step aside for a day to let Rose take over the team. Former major leaguers on the Bridgeport roster include Sean Burroughs and Joe Mather.
“I will tell each of the players in the clubhouse a few things before the game,” Rose said. “I will look at each of them and say that every one of you guys has more ability right now than I did at 18 years old. I was told that I was too slow, didn’t have a strong arm, and didn’t have power, but I got an opportunity and I worked the rest of it out.”
The 73-year-old Rose is baseball’s career hits leader with 4,256. Because of the lifetime ban, he is not eligible for the Baseball Hall of Fame.