NEW YORK (AP) _ Pete Rose calls his talks with commissioner Bud Selig ``a delicate process,'' sounding hopeful his lifetime ban from baseball will end.
In his first public remarks since meeting with Selig in Milwaukee on Nov. 25, the career hits leader issued a statement Thursday through his agent, Warren Greene.
``I greatly appreciate the tremendous fan support and interest in my quest for reinstatement back into major league baseball. I carry with each of you the passion to enter a new phase of this long drama,'' Rose said.
``Since I submitted my application for reinstatement back in 1997, I have looked forward to the opportunity to once again become a part of this great game. I can say today that we have been provided the forum to discuss all of the issues with major league baseball. Please respect this delicate process and permit those of us intimate with the details to continue our efforts,'' he said.
Not everyone is looking forward to Rose's return.
Former commissioner Fay Vincent, in fact, has an idea for a plaque should his old nemesis one day get into the Hall of Fame: Put ``Banned for Gambling'' right on it.
Rose would become eligible for the Hall ballot if Selig agrees to end the ban. Vincent discussed the issue of Rose's potential plaque this week with commentator George Will, a former director of the Baltimore Orioles and San Diego Padres.
``He called me the other day and said it should be on the plaque,'' Vincent said. ``I agree with that. That's what the Hall of Fame should do.''
If Rose is ever elected, the Hall of Fame would decide the wording of his plaque and would not reveal it until the day of the induction, Hall spokesman Jeff Idelson said.
The Hall has taken more control in recent years, announcing that it would decide which team a player would be identified with when inducted. In recent years, some inductees had appeared to be negotiating with different club managements over which hat would be portrayed on their plaque.
Selig got a call Thursday from Ohio Sen. Mike DeWine, a Reds' season-ticket holder and a big Rose fan.
DeWine remarked that Rose should be in the Hall during a speaking appearance during the day before an economic development group in Dayton. The senator's spokesman, Mike Dawson, would not give details about the conversation between DeWine and Selig.
Vincent said John Dowd, who headed baseball's investigation of Rose in 1989, never mentioned any evidence that Rose bet against the Cincinnati Reds.
The New York Post reported Wednesday that Dowd told the paper he had reliable evidence that Rose bet against his team but didn't include it in his 225-page report because of time constraints.
``This is the first I've heard of that claim,'' Vincent said Thursday. At the time of the investigation, Vincent was deputy commissioner under A. Bartlett Giamatti, and Vincent hired Dowd to head the probe.
In the summary at the start of his report 13 years ago, Dowd wrote ``no evidence was discovered that Rose bet against the Cincinnati Reds.''
Dowd said Thursday he was asked by the Post whether he came across any evidence that Rose gambled against his team. Dowd said he told the paper there was some, but it was inconclusive.
``I was never able to tie it down,'' Dowd said. ``It was unreliable, and that's why I didn't include it in the report. I probably shouldn't have said it. I was not trying to start something here.''
Rose agreed to a lifetime ban from baseball on Aug. 23, 1989, following an investigation of his gambling. While Rose denied gambling on baseball, Giamatti said he concluded the 17-time All-Star bet on games involving the Reds.
Selig wants Rose to admit he bet on baseball as part of any reinstatement agreement. None of the 14 others banned for life for gambling were ever reinstated.
Vincent isn't sure whether Selig should end the ban, but wants an admission of gambling on baseball included in any agreement.
``The real problem is how do you take his word that he stopped,'' Vincent said. ``We know he bets on all things. What has he done in the last 13 years to demonstrate he's worthy of being reinstated?''
Even if the ban ends, Vincent would not put Rose in the Hall of Fame.
``I think the Hall of Fame has a character test, and I don't support his candidacy because he failed a very important test,'' Vincent said.
Vincent is withholding judgment until he sees what kind of agreement Selig and Rose agree to. He also said Selig should proceed ``very carefully.''
``He has to be careful not to take Pete's word,'' Vincent said. ``We know that word is no good _ that's something that has to be factored in.
``I think it's public pressure,'' Vincent said when asked why Selig would change his stance. ``He may think this may help rejuvenate baseball, which has looked a little gray around the edges of late. He may think this is a good thing to do for baseball. I happen to think it's a bad thing.
``He runs the risk that baseball would have a spate of gambling in the future. He's taking personally some enormous risk that his legacy could be that he made a very bad mistake fooling around with this.''