Fans react to Rose interview with NBC

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The Independent Online

An aggressive television interview of Pete Rose, moments after his triumphant return at the World Series outraged viewers across the country - and even offended players who watched it from the top step of the dugout.

An aggressive television interview of Pete Rose, moments after his triumphant return at the World Series outraged viewers across the country - and even offended players who watched it from the top step of the dugout.

Switchboards at NBC network affiliates nationwide were swamped with telephone calls Sunday night protesting reporter Jim Gray's questioning of Rose about his banishment from baseball.

Rose had just received the longest ovation of any member of the sport's All-Century team announced prior to Game 2 at Turner Field when Gray started a live interview in front of the New York Yankees dugout.

Gray asked Rose, banned in 1989 for gambling, why he hasn't admitted that he bet on baseball.

"I'm not going to admit to something that didn't happen," said Rose, baseball's career hits leader. "I know you're getting tired of hearing me say that. It's too festive a night to worry about it."

Gray, refusing to change the subject, said the commissioner's office had strong evidence.

"I mean, show it to me, where is it?," Rose asked.

Gray later suggested Rose should perhaps take a different approach by admitting guilt. Rose seemed surprised by Gray's approach, likening it to a "prosecutorial brief."

"You know, I'm surprised you're bombarding me with this," he said. "I'm here to do an interview with you on a great night, a great occasion. You're bringing up something that happened 10 years ago."

Gray is known for asking tough questions. He won a Sports Emmy in 1998 for sideline reporting after his relentless interview of Mike Tyson following the "Bite Fight" with Evander Holyfield.

On Sunday, the reaction was swift.

The local NBC affiliate in New York said operators fielded over 600 complaints about the interview.

Jim Leyritz and several other Yankees stopped to speak with Gray in the walkway after the game.

"I think it's an embarrassment to your profession," Leyritz said.

On a sports wrapup show on a New York station after the game, Mets pitcher John Franco said Gray overdid it in the interview and said that 10 years was long enough for Rose to be punished. Later in the show, Yankees catcher Joe Girardi agreed that Rose belongs in the Hall of Fame.

Gray brushed off a reporter who tried to ask him about the interview after the game and left the ballpark without comment. Attempts by The Associated Press to reach Gray through NBC Sports were unsuccessful.

"Jim's intent was to try to give Pete Rose an opportunity in a celebratory atmosphere on a major league baseball field for the first time in 10 years, to comment on the issues that have kept him out of baseball," NBC spokesman Ed Markey said.

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