The most perplexing thing about the World Series for some wasn't how Daniel Murphy let a slow grounder go under his glove.

Rather, it was this: What the heck happened to Pete Rose?

The breakout star of Fox's panel of analysts one minute, baseball's hit king was gone the next. Twitter was abuzz with speculation about his abrupt absence, and the requisite conspiracy theories began to fly.

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Turns out, the truth is simple. Rose had places to be, things to sign.

''They were kind of disappointed I wasn't there, and to be honest I was disappointed, too,'' Rose told The Associated Press on Sunday. ''But I'm the kind of guy who lives up to my contracts. You've got to honor your obligations.''

Those obligations included a dinner and speech with a group Rose didn't identify. They also included an autograph signing, which is how Rose made all his money before Fox hired him this year to talk about baseball.

One was in Arizona, the other in Las Vegas, where he can be found most weekdays near the casino at Mandalay Bay signing baseballs and other memorabilia.

''I would have loved to have stayed; I had a lot of fun working with those guys,'' Rose said. ''But I already had previous things that were scheduled a long time ago. I had forgotten to put the World Series dates in when I signed for those, so I had to leave.''

Rose had worked as a studio analyst for Fox much of the season, though it was at the World Series where he gained a different kind of notoriety than he got from being banned from baseball for betting on games while managing the Cincinnati Reds.

On a panel that included Alex Rodriguez and Frank Thomas, he was both knowledgeable and, at times, funny. He came across as the slightly off-kilter uncle everyone has, and a meme of him leaning into a shot featuring pitcher C.J. Nitkowski became a big hit on social media.

''I was a creeper or something,'' Rose said. ''It got a good laugh around the country but I don't even remember doing it. I just watch for the red light, listen to the producers and try to find something to get on Frank about.''

Rose got another good laugh - at least from Mets fans - after Game 3 when Kansas City pitcher Franklin Morales seemingly froze when trying to decide what base to throw to on a come backer.

''You screwed up, buddy,'' Rose said when asked what he would say to him. ''Go take a shower.''

Three games into the World Series, though, Rose was bidding it farewell. Just as the nation was enjoying the wit and wisdom of the 74-year-old in a bow tie, he was being given a fond farewell by Thomas and the rest of the panel.

''My best October since 1980 when we won the World Series,'' said Rose, who won his third and final championship with the Philadelphia Phillies that year.

Indeed, Rose had nothing but good things to say about everyone on the Fox set. A-Rod, he said, was both down to earth and a perfectionist, while sitting next to Thomas made him feel as if they were in the movie ''Twins'' because of their size difference.

''I love that guy,'' Rose said. ''All I did was pick on him and he picked back at me. Some people on the Internet were saying we hated each other, but that was not the way it is. We're good friends.''

Fox issued a statement following Rose's departure saying the network looked forward to having him back next year. Being on TV has been a renaissance of sorts for Rose, who has been banned from the game for more than a quarter of a century.

There's a chance Rose could come back under different circumstances next year. He met for nearly two hours with new baseball commissioner Rob Manfred in September to discuss his request for reinstatement to the game, and Manfred says he will make a decision by the end of the year.

''The commissioner thought it was best for me not to comment and I live up to what he wants,'' Rose said. ''All I can do is keep doing positive things.''