INDIANAPOLIS (AP) - Pete Rose politely listened to the question, then smiled.
The 17-time National League All-Star was asked about the NFL's last-minute settlement that ended the league's lockout.
"They were out 136 days and still didn't miss a day," he said Tuesday, one day after football owners and players signed a new labor deal. "I guess they missed some days in their own camps. ... I missed more games in strikes and lockouts than I did with injuries. I suppose they missed some things like mini camps, but they didn't miss a day. I have to smile when I think about that.
"Come on. It's football. Do you think they would miss any games? That's such a lucrative business. They're not going to walk away from that."
Rose wasn't so sure about the NBA lockout, shrugging his shoulders.
"I don't know about that," he said. "It's the NBA. I don't know."
As always, Rose does not shy away from an opportunity to discuss a controversial subject.
Rose made his first trip to Indianapolis in 20 years, by his estimation. He did so to sign autographs at a fan shop called the Collectors Den on the north side of the city.
Store officials said about 300 fans attended. Rose was congenial with them all, signing autographs and posing for a countless string of pictures. He carried on conversations with many of the autograph seekers.
Mostly, Rose did what baseball's all-time hit leader (4,256) does these days — sign autographs. When not attending shows such as Tuesday's, Rose spends his days signing autographs at the Art of Music at the Mandalay Bay Hotel in Las Vegas. He also has a website that peddles merchandise and memorabilia.
Rose, who has signed everything from the usual memorabilia to a burned waffle, said he does have his limits.
"I have my parameters with what I sign and what I put on it," he said. "I don't put anything vulgar on an autograph."
When he first began his 23-year, major-league career in 1963, signing autographs for a living did not appear to be an option.
"We didn't know it would be like this in the '60's," Rose said. "But in the 70's, when they started doing (baseball) card shows, there was something there. I did shows with them all: (Joe) DiMaggio, (Mickey) Mantle, (Dale) Murphy, (Juan) Marichal. We all did those shows."
There is one similarity that does not continue past that juncture: Baseball's Hall of Fame.
Rose, 70, has been to Cooperstown, but not as an inductee, the result of his well-publicized ban for gambling.
"It's out of my control, so I don't worry about it," he said. "It's my fault. I'm not mad at you or anybody. But I'd be the happiest person in the world if it did happen. Hopefully, I'll get a second chance."
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