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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Inductee Schmidt Goes to Bat for Rose

COOPERSTOWN, New York -- Mike Schmidt turned his induction into the U.S. Baseball Hall of Fame into a pulpit to promote Pete Rose, telling the biggest induction crowd ever that it was time to make a place for America's major league career-hits leader in Cooperstown.


Wearing a No. 14 lapel pin to honor his former teammate Sunday, Schmidt twice mentioned him during a 20-minute speech, saying Rose was his grandmother's favorite player.


Schmidt's references to Rose drew large ovations from the crowd, estimated at 25,000 to 28,000 and mostly from Philadelphia.


Several times during the two-hour ceremonies, there were sporadic chants of "We want Pete! We want Pete!''


Schmidt and Rose played together in Philadelphia from 1979 to 1983, leading the Phillies to its only World Series title in 1980.


But there was absolutely no reaction -- no smiles, no hand claps, no nothing -- from 30 previously elected Hall of Famers who sat stone silent around Schmidt. And early in the program before Schmidt was introduced, Johnny Bench was heard by those in the front rows to mutter "you can have him'' when the crowd clamored for Rose.


Rose and Bench, who played together on the Cincinnati Reds for several years, had a personal disagreements after Rose ran into problems that led to him being banned from U.S. Major League Baseball, thereby making him ineligible for election to the Hall.


Schmidt, whose 548 home runs for Philadelphia rank seventh in major league history, was elected last January on the first ballot by the Baseball Writers Association of America.


Richie Ashburn, a .308 career hitter mostly with the Phillies, Negro Leagues star Leon Day, turn-of-the-century pitcher Vic Willis and key NL founder William Hulbert were voted in by the Veterans Committee in March. Day died six days after being selected.


Despite being an 11-time All-Star and leading the Phillies to their only World Series in 1980, Schmidt often was jeered by the hometown fans. As for any lingering resentment, Schmidt said, "Can we put that to rest today?''