By Joe Mahoney
The Daily Star
---- — COOPERSTOWN — The man known to legions of baseball fans as Charlie Hustle still isn’t being considered for induction into the National Baseball Hall of Fame.
But all-time hits king Pete Rose will soon be making his debut in a nationally televised reality show partially filmed just down the street from the museum where he still has no plaque.
The show, featuring Rose and his fiancee, Kiana Kim, has been given a catchy title by TLC (The Learning Channel): “Pete Rose: HITS & MRS.” That’s a bit spicier than the first draft for the show’s handle: “Pete Rose and Kiana Kim Family Project.”
The first segment will be cablecast Jan. 14 at 10 p.m. Eastern Time.
The network offered a flavor of where the show will go with this blurb: “‘Pete Rose HITS & MRS.’ takes viewers along for the ride as he attempts to bring his new family together, celebrate his extraordinary career and live the life he’s always wanted to have.”
Rose, who spent most of his career with the Cincinnati Reds before playing for the Philadelphia Phillies and Montreal Expos, and Kim, along with the latter’s two children by a previous marriage, 14-year-old Cassie and 11-year-old Ashton, were in Cooperstown in July for the initial filming of the reality show. Much of the footage was shot inside and near TJ’s restaurant on Main Street, owned by local merchant Ted Hargrove.
While the TLC cameras rolled, Hargrove hosted a breakfast for Rose, Kim, the kids and such Rose friends as Andrew Vilacky, another Main Street merchant. Rose, Hargrove, Kim and Vilacky engaged in a lively discussion about the the apparent reason for keeping Rose out of the Hall: his now-admitted involvement in gambling on baseball games while he was a manager (but not while he was a player). Rose has said he never bet on his own team to lose, and always tried to win every game in which he was involved.
At one point, Rose suggested that he doesn’t hold hope for ever getting into the Hall of Fame, at least in his lifetime.
“What it’s going to take to get over this is for this heart to stop beating,” he said over eggs and home fries.
Because Kim, a former Playboy model, is 40 years younger than the 71-year-old Rose, some viewers may wonder whether the relationship was hatched only to provide the backdrop for a quirky reality show.
But Hargrove told The Daily Star that his own observations of the couple during the past four years have convinced him that they are bonded by true love.
“She may be as controversial in her dress as he was in his baseball playing — but they still have a serious relationshp,” he said. “It’s definitely not a gimmick. His relationship with her is for real.”
During the couple’s stay in Cooperstown, Rose proved to be a big draw for fans willing to lay out cash for autographed baseballs and other memorabilia.
As for his involvement with the reality show, he observed: “I guess I’m a good prop for them. We’ve got an interesting life.” Referring to Kim, he said: “She certainly has the face for a reality show. I don’t.”
In teasing the show, TLC promoters sought to create a measure of suspense.
“Pete and Kiana are happily engaged — but as with many couples, the road to a wedding isn’t always smooth,” TLC said. “This new Modern Family will experience all of the challenges other families face — and much more.”
Hargrove, who was interviewed at length by the producers, said he has high hopes for the program, which is expected to run for at least six episodes.
“It will certainly give Cooperstown some national coverage — and hopefully it’s for the best,” he said.
TLC is part of Discovery Communications.