He was equal parts Sam Donaldson and Sam Waterston. With his interview of Pete Rose moments before last Sunday night's World Series game, NBC's Jim Gray, who in 1997 stood toe-to-toe with Mike Tyson after the Evander Holyfield ear debacle, cemented his reputation as television's nerviest interrogator.
"Are you willing to show contrition, admit that you bet on baseball and make some sort of apology?" Gray asked just moments after Rose had been treated to a minutelong ovation at Turner Field as a member of baseball's All-Century team.
"Not at all," countered Rose, whom baseball banned for life in 1989 for betting on games. "I'm not going to admit something that didn't happen."
Gray, however, didn't let the subject drop, declaring that the evidence against Rose was "overwhelming" and adding that, when it came to reinstatement, "some people will say you have been your own worst enemy." Many, including hundreds of irate callers to NBC and its affiliates, begged to differ. They agreed with Rose, who said on-air that Gray's persistence was out of line, especially given the feel-good nature of the evening.
Like Rose, however, Gray, shows no contrition. "I wasn't trying to be belligerent," he told SI. "Was it an appropriate forum? Yes. It was the first time that Pete had been allowed on the field in 10 years. Pete knew what was coming. I was trying to give him a window of opportunity to state his case to the public."