The people seem to be buying it. There is a two-hour wait some weekend nights at Rose's Ballpark Cafe. The radio show reaches a wide audience around the country. They're talking about putting the pizzas in school cafeterias. The City of Hope National Medical Center, near L.A., this summer ran a fund-raising 1-900 poll of Americans to see who thinks Rose ought to be in the Hall of Fame, and the yeas edge out the nays 97% to 3%.
"Sounds to me like 97 percent of the people want to give me a second chance," he says. "I'm in no hurry. I'm just waiting for the odds to be in my favor."
O.K. So bad choice of words.
This is what Rose says as he spins suddenly on 53rd Street in Manhattan after hearing a fat little woman holler, "Hey, Pete! I'm votin' for you for the Hall of Fame!" from across the street:
"You got a vote?"
Pete Rose throws back his head and a laugh at the same time. Baseball never quite counted on it turning out like this. When they take away the one thing Pete Rose cares about in this life, they figure the next time they see him will be in their office, hat in hand, one knee to the rug and a quiver in his bottom lip, copping to betting on baseball, and betting on the Reds and maybe having something to do with the Lindbergh baby. They look up and Rose not only has a radio show but also a legit foothold in the eatery business and, who knows, maybe a scat on a city council somewhere. And maybe they think to themselves, "This guy has a lot of nerve not to be devastated by the rotten things he has done." But what they forget is that guys who sprint to first base do not schedule in a lot of time for reminiscing.
And as he whistles on down the street, the parties with Pete Rose think to themselves, "This guy may never see a pothole at that."