Phillies cancel Pete Rose ceremony amid allegations

ANAHEIM, Calif. — The Phillies on Wednesday canceled a ceremony to induct Pete Rose into the team’s Wall of Fame after allegations surfaced this week that Rose maintained a sexual relationship in the 1970s with a girl who was not yet 16 years old.

Rose, who is banned from baseball because he bet on games while manager of the Cincinnati Reds, was scheduled to be honored Aug. 12 at Citizens Bank Park. Major League Baseball has not lifted the lifetime ban, but it has permitted clubs to honor Rose if they wish. In June,  the Reds unveiled a statue of Rose outside their stadium. He is, however, not eligible for induction into Baseball Hall of Fame.

But the Phillies, under mounting public pressure, distanced themselves from Rose. The team has promoted his appearance in Philadelphia for months; a source said they were near a sellout for the Aug. 12 game. The night before that, they had planned to distribute thousands of Rose bobbleheads to all fans in attendance. They will no longer do that.

Rose’s plaque will not be added to the team’s Wall of Fame in Ashburn Alley. But the Phillies have not eliminated the possibility of honoring Rose, 76, in the future.

They, instead, will honor former inductees in a ceremony before the Aug. 12 game against the New York Mets. The team said fans with tickets to the Aug. 11 or 12 games can exchange them for any remaining game or receive a full refund.

“While I am truly honored that the Phillies fans voted for me to be this year’s wall of fame inductee, I am concerned that other matters will overshadow the goodwill associated with alumni weekend,” Rose said in a statement released Wednesday by the team, “and I agree with the decision not to participate.”

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Rose, whose 4,256 hits are the most in major-league history, played for the Phillies from 1979 through 1983. He was a key member of their 1980 World Series team.

Testimony from a woman identified as “Jane Doe” was submitted this week in federal court in Philadelphia as part of Rose’s defamation lawsuit against John Dowd, the investigator who discovered Rose’s gambling habits that led in 1989 to his banishment from baseball.

“I received a phone call from Pete Rose of the Cincinnati Reds,” the woman testified. “Sometime after that, Pete Rose and I began meeting at a house in Cincinnati. 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, In a written statement provided by Dowd’s lawyers, confirmed that he had sex with the woman but disputed details of her testimony. Their relationship, he said, did not begin until 1975. Rose, based on his “information and belief at the time,” thought she was 16 years old. Rose turned 34 on April 14, 1975.

The testimony emerged in a suit initiated by Rose. He sued Dowd last year in federal court after Dowd, in a 2015 interview with WCHE in West Chester, accused Rose of statutory rape.

Rose, despite the woman’s allegations, cannot face criminal charges in Ohio because the statute of limitations has run out.

The Phillies elect their Wall of Fame honorees through a convoluted process. Fans vote online to select their top three choices from 10 candidates. The top five vote-getters are then placed on a ballot, with the winner decided by what the team calls “a special Wall of Fame Selection Committee.” Phillies players, managers and coaches with four or more years of service are eligible. Rose was slated to be the 39th member of the wall.

It’s likely Rose will still spend that weekend in Philadelphia. In conjunction with his honor at Citizens Bank Park, Rose’s promoters had arranged for several appearances around the Delaware Valley. One of them, an annual sports roast hosted by comedian Joe Conklin, was canceled Wednesday.

Another event, an hour-long “meet and greet” with Rose at an area casino, is charging $75 for admission.

Columnist Mike Sielski contributed to this story.