By JOE MAHONEY
COOPERSTOWN -- On the eve of this year's induction ceremony at the National Baseball Hall of fame and Museum, legendary big leaguer Pete Rose will be in the village to film an episode of a new reality television show and sign autographs for fans who have stuck by him despite his past gambling involvement.
The cable television network TLC, an affiliate of Discovery Channel, said it has ordered five episodes of the "Pete Rose and Kiana Kim Family Project" to air later this year. The show will deal with Rose's relationship with Kim, his fiancee, as well as a Playboy model who has two children of her own.
Ted Hargrove, owner of T.J.'s, a restaurant on Main Street in the village, said Rose and a TLC film crew will be taping an episode of the show Friday at his eatery.
Friends of Rose also told The Daily Star that the former Cincinnati Reds star will be signing baseballs for fans -- at $60 for each signature -- at Safe at Home, a sports collectible shop at 91 Main St., immediately after leaving T.J.'s. Rose is expected to return to that shop to sign more baseballs Saturday and Sunday.
Rose, as a consequence of having been implicated in gambling on baseball, has been blocked from being admitted into the Hall of Fame by the Baseball Writers' Association of America.
In a statement, TLC general manager Amy Winter said, "Pete is one of sport's most controversial characters, and his life is even more fascinating off the field as it was on."
Winter added: This series will open the door into a very modern family dynamic of trying to blend families when your kids are no longer children, and when your private life is in the public spotlight."
Hall of Fame spokesman Brad Horn declined to comment on Rose's appearance in Cooperstown.
Horn said the Hall of Fame is keeping its focus on preparing for Sunday's induction ceremony honoring the Hall's two new members, Barry Larkin and the late Ron Santo.
A total of 44 Hall of Fame members will be on hand for the event, he said.
In response to questions, Horn acknowledged that the Hall of Fame was recently contacted by TLC. But the Hall of Fame opted against allowing any taping by the network while it prepares for this weekend's induction event.
Hargrove said Rose's foray through Cooperstown "is a good thing for the village because Pete Rose's popularity here is very strong."
"He deserves to be in the Hall of Fame because of his accomplishments as a baseball player, regardless of what some people's opinions are," Hargrove said.
He also noted that the Hall of Fame does recognize many of Rose's achievements -- including the fact that he remains the all-time major league leader in hits (with a total of 4,256), games played and at-bats.
Hargrove stressed that there is no evidence that Rose, while serving as the manager of the Reds, ever bet against his own team. Rose agreed to permanently leave baseball in 1989 after an investigation determined he bet on games while serving as the Reds' manager.
Rose, 71, is approximately 40 years old than Kim, according to media reports. Rose resides in Las Vegas, while Kim lives in Los Angeles.