September 19, 2006
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How much is an apology worth? How about an apology from Pete Rose written on a baseball with his signature and a handwritten number — somewhere between one and 303 — representing his lifetime batting average?
An auction house thinks the balls are worth up to $1,000 each — maybe even more. Thirty of the balls will go on sale in the spring.
The balls say, "I'm sorry I bet on baseball. — Pete Rose" and were apparently signed by the “Hits King” sometime in 2004, around the time he finally came clean about his gambling habits in a tell-all autobiography. The Rose-signed balls typically sell for $25 to $50, but these collectibles could demand 40 times as much because they're limited in number, and they're getting lots of publicity. (No, I don't get a cut.)
Of course, as one memorabilia expert told my producer, as long as Rose is alive, he could always sign more with the same message, and that would bring the value down. But you never know what "Charlie Hustle" might try to hustle next.
At the end of my Studio B live shot on this story, Shep Smith asked me if I thought Rose should be in the Baseball Hall of Fame. I said yes. After all, Rose was a 17-time All-Star, won gold gloves, batting titles, three World Series, and appeared to play his heart out in every one of his 3,562 games (more than any other player), not to mention breaking Ty Cobb's all-time hit record.
I'm sure there are plenty of people in the “Hall” who've committed greater sins than Rose, but these balls probably won't help win him more support.