Reporter apologizes to fans for Rose interview

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The Independent Online

The New York Yankees backed up their angry words about NBC reporter Jim Gray with silence.

The New York Yankees backed up their angry words about NBC reporter Jim Gray with silence.

Upset over Gray's contentious interview with Pete Rose on Sunday night, the Yankees boycotted him following their 6-5, 10-inning victory in Game 3 of the World Series on Tuesday night.

Gray apologized to baseball fans during NBC TV's pregame show before Game 3 against Atlanta at Yankee Stadium. But the Yankees were not in a forgiving mood, refusing to talk to Gray after the game.

NBC was deluged by complaints from fans Sunday night after Gray's interview with Rose at Turner Field in Atlanta. It centered on Rose's lifetime ban from the sport for gambling, and came minutes after he returned to a major league field for the first time in 10 years as a member of baseball's All-Century team.

Well before Chad Curtis' 10th-inning home run gave New York a 3-0 lead in the World Series, Gray spoke of the incident.

"After viewing the videotape, I can understand the reaction of many baseball fans," Gray said. "I thought that it was important to ask Pete Rose if this was the right moment for him to make an apology.

"If in doing so, the interview went on too long and took out some of the joy of the occasion, then I want to say to baseball fans everywhere that I'm very sorry about this."

When Gray approached Curtis to ask him about his game-winning homer, the Yankees left fielder made the team's feelings plain.

"Because of what happened with Pete, we decided not to say anything," Curtis told Gray on live television, adding a greeting for his grandmother before walking away.

Gray shouted after Curtis, "Don't you want to talk about your home run?" but Curtis did not turn around.

"It's not a personal thing with me and Jim Gray," Curtis said later. "It's a thing that the team decided.

"I don't know what Pete did, I don't know whether he should be in the Hall of Fame or shouldn't be. All I know was that was a special day for Pete and some other people. He probably should have been able to just have an enjoyment of that celebration and not have to answer questions about other things, and it really upset some people.

"So as a team we decided to boycott talking to him on the field," Curtis said. "If my teammates decide that, I'm going to honor it."

In its postgame report on CNBC, reporter Craig Sager, who was covering the Braves dugout, moved over to the Yankees' side of the field to ask the questions instead of Gray.

NBC does not plan any changes in its coverage despite the boycott, said spokesman Ed Markey.

"Jim Gray will be back tomorrow night in the Yankee dugout - same assignment as tonight," Markey said after Tuesday night's game.

Markey added that the network expected the Yankees will talk to Gray for Game 4.

Fans seem willing to forgive Rose, speaking out in polls in favor of his reinstatement to baseball. He received the longest ovation of any baseball hero introduced on Sunday in Atlanta.

Rose told Gray he was "surprised you're bombarding me like this on such a festive occasion."

In an interview on Monday, Gray said his questions should not have surprised Rose since other reporters asked the same things at a news conference shortly before.

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."

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.

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