The last time I was in Las Vegas was the weekend The Hangover came out — no, not III, the first one. After seeing that, I was told that I wanted to see Cirque du Soleil, so
I was dragged went to see that. But what I really wanted to do was to see Pete Rose.
The all-time MLB hit king has become a Vegas attraction in and of himself, like the Mandalay Bay Shark Reef and the Mirage Volcano. I had know for some time that Rose signs autographs on all manner of memorabilia in Vegas as a full-time gig. But I had always thought of it as a Plan B kind of thing — something to hold him over until MLB lets him into the Hall of Fame, and he can make some real money as a coach or broadcaster.
Turns out though that Rose is doing very well for himself. According to the Wall Street Journal, he clears $1 million a year signing memorabilia in Vegas for about half of every month.
Since 2005, he has spent several hours per day, 15 to 25 days per month, 12 months per year signing his name for money. He signs and poses for photos with anyone who buys memorabilia from his business partners, with items such as baseballs and photos ranging from $75 to $800. And for this, Rose earns more than $1 million per year.
“Pete’s job is to be Pete Rose,” said Joie Casey, president of Hit King Inc., which manages Rose’s autograph ventures. “And he’s the best Pete Rose there’s ever been.”
The question on whether Rose should be in the Hall of Fame is a tricky one for me, because I see both sides of the issue and therefore can’t be righteously indignant. It’s a large helping of hypocrisy to see Mark McGwire making a living with the Cardinals, when of the two of them, Rose is the only one who got all of his hits legitimately.
But it’s also true that Rose built his own baseball gallows, mostly by standing by the lie for so long that he never bet on baseball. Bud Selig, of course,has made the most Bud Selig decision on Rose’s reinstatement — saying that “It’s under review.” Rose’s take on that:
Rose called Selig “a good man” and said “guys like me make his job harder.” He blames himself for his exile. But he also expressed frustration. “Just do this for me: Say yes or no,” he said. “Why do you keep me hanging?”
Because Selig wants to pass that hot turnip to the next commissioner. So Rose is forever banned to Vegas, it seems — not really a bad place to be. Older ‘B’ list entertainers set up shop in Branson, Missouri, and banned Major League hit kings set up an autograph table here. Nice work if you can get it.