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Pete Rose Comments On Marge Schott, Albert Belle

June 9, 1996 GMT

HARRISBURG (AP) _ Cincinnati Reds owner Marge Schott is not the villain some people think, says Pete Rose, who managed the team for her before being forced out of baseball.

``The thing about Marge Schott is that she’s actually two people,″ said Rose, in Harrisburg over the weekend for a baseball card show. ``Marge is the happiest person in the world when she goes to the ballpark.

``She’ll sit there for 2 1/2 hours every night, sign autographs, talk to the writers and the TV guys. But when the lights go out and it’s time for her to go, she goes home alone. She has no immediate family, no kids or friends,″ Rose told The Patriot-News.

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``I think she’s a very lonely person and I kind of feel sorry for her.″

After Schott made a series of insulting remarks about ethnic and religious groups, the Major League baseball owners began trying to force her out of day-to-day operation of the Reds.

While Rose said he doesn’t agree with her comments and called them ``bad,″ he added: ``I think Marge Schott is harmless. What she has to do is she has to learn to keep her mouth shut.

``But you are supposed to have freedom of speech in this country, aren’t you? I do know one thing: if they try and take any part of the team away from her, she’ll put up a fight.″

Rose said Schott doesn’t trust or care about anyone.

``I don’t think Marge has anything against any one group of people or race. I just don’t think she likes anybody,″ he said.

``She thinks everybody is trying to steal her team or her money. She’s got something that everybody wants in Cincinnati _ the Reds.″

The man known as Charlie Hustle and still the game’s all-time hit leader, Rose also commented on ill-tempered Cleveland Indians slugger Albert Belle.

Rose said Belle reminds him of former Cincinnati teammate Alex Johnson, who later won an American League batting title with the California Angels.

``Between the lines and to reporters, Alex Johnson was one of the nastiest guys alive,″ Rose said. ``Deep down, the guy was a pussycat.″

``There’s always going to be guys like (Belle). ... Obviously, he’s got some problems, but everybody I’ve talked to hasn’t had a bad word to say about him. I’ve never heard any of his teammates badmouth him.

``I know this, if I were going to war, I’d want Belle on one side of me and Dennis Rodman on the other. Because I know one would protect my front and the other would protect my back.″