The Associated Press In this March 22, 1989, file photo, Cincinnati Reds' manager Pete Rose leans against the dugout fence before the start of baseball game in Plant City, Fla. The all-time hits king is going to manage one game this month for the Bridgeport Bluefish in the independent Atlantic League. The 73-year-old Rose will run the Connecticut team on June 16 when they host the Lancaster Barnstormers.
By MICHAEL KELLY
This past weekend, baseball legend Pete Rose made news when he announced he planned to manage a team in the Atlantic League for one game.
The catch for baseball fans in the Rug City: The Bridgeport Bluefish that Rose -- who has a lifetime ban from Major League Baseball because of his gambling activities -- is headed to manage Monday is the same one that Amsterdam's Robby Hisert works for as a first-base coach.
Hisert found out that Rose will replace Willie Upshaw for a day as the club's manager the same way as the rest of the country. In his second year as the club's first-base coach, Hisert was watching a press conference for the team when it was announced Rose would man the dugout for Bridgeport, shocking both Hisert and the people he was watching.
"You just saw everyone at the press conference's jaws drop," Hisert said.
This won't be Hisert's first brush with Rose; Hisert met the baseball legend in Cooperstown a few years ago. Hisert -- who, along with his wife Sara, recently had a baby girl -- also wrote his senior paper at Amsterdam High School arguing that Rose should be allowed into the National Baseball Hall of Fame.
Hisert laughed at the suggestion he should bring the paper for Rose to autograph.
"Oh, God, if I knew where it was, I would," he said.
While Rose's presence will reshuffle the Bluefish coaches' responsibilities a bit, Hisert said he expects to still coach first base for the game. But, if he is asked to take a night off from his first-base duties, Hisert said he won't complain.
"Being able to do batting practice with Pete Rose and talk a little hitting, it's going to be awesome," Hisert said.
Hisert said he does not expect Rose's presence to be a distraction for the squad. The Bluefish have dealt with extra media and attention before when they played the Sugar Land Skeeters this season, the squad with former NBA all-star Tracy McGrady on its roster.
For his part, Rose said he wanted Monday's return to the dugout to go beyond being a spectacle.
"I'm doing this because I love baseball," Rose said in a statement posted to Bridgeport's website. "I love young players ... they run hard and they play hard, all the time."
Rose, 73 years old, is MLB's all-time hits leader with 4,256. He has been banned from MLB since 1989.
The Bluefish will play the Lancaster Barnstormers in the contest, which starts at 7:05 p.m.
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Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.