NBC broadcaster refuses to apologize for Rose interview
Posted: Tuesday October 26, 1999 06:20 PM
Jim Gray (right) has found himself on the bad side of many fans and players after his interview of Pete Rose. AP
NEW YORK (AP) -- Although NBC's Jim Gray didn't relish his confrontation with Pete Rose, he doesn't regret it either.
"I felt I did my job and I did my job well, but it wasn't a satisfying feeling to walk away."
"If the fans felt the interview went on too long, particularly on a night of special celebration, then I am sorry for that," Gray said.
Dick Ebersol, chairman of NBC Sports, backed Gray by calling him "the best TV sports reporter of his generation." However, Ebersol said he thought the interview "probably went too long."
Rose wasn't commenting on the dispute Monday. Gray said he'd be back on the sidelines reporting Tuesday for Game 3 of the series, and he didn't expect to address the controversy.
Switchboards at NBC affiliates across the country were bombarded by phone calls from people angry at Gray -- two hours nonstop at WLWT in Cincinnati, where Rose collected most of his record 4,256 hits for the hometown Reds.
In an e-mail to The Associated Press, one fan wrote of being enraged that Rose was "blindsided" during what should have been a proud moment, and said it gives the press a bad name.
"I hope NBC buys a collar and leash for the bulldog," the writer said.
New York Yankees manager Joe Torre said it was uncalled for.
"For some reason, we've lost sight of the word 'respect.' We deal too much in shock value."
"We were pretty much all disgusted with Jim," Yankees outfielder Darryl Strawberry said. "It was a night of celebration for Pete Rose. Every player who ever plays cares about Pete Rose. It was embarrassing. It didn't sit too well in this clubhouse."
Gray's colleague, NBC analyst Joe Morgan, a teammate of Rose's with the Cincinnati Reds, was careful not to place the blame on either person.
"I was cringing and hoping that Pete would have the right answers," Morgan said. "I was just hoping the interview would be over the next second."
Some leapt to Gray's defense. "I thought it was the best TV interview I've ever seen," said Murray Chass, baseball writer for the New York Times. "It was appropriate. It was not overdone. Rose has put himself in position to be pressed like that."
John Dowd, the investigator whose 1989 probe of Rose led to the ban, said he tipped his hat to Gray.
"I thought he had more guts than any guy I've ever seen," Dowd said.
Former baseball Commissioner Fay Vincent said Gray knows how overwhelming the evidence is against Rose. "For Pete to just stand there and look Jim Gray in the eye and deny he bet on baseball, it's obviously a challenge that any interviewer can't let go. I recognize it was aggressive, but Rose was aggressive.'
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