Pete Rose Was Nearly A Vol? Hit King Says He Almost Played Football For Tennessee

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You know Pete Rose for the statue outside Great American Ballpark in Cincinnati. Well, that and the whole betting-on-games thing.

But did you know he almost played football for the Tennessee Volunteers?

Rose revealed as much during a speaking engagement at the Hardin Valley Academy baseball banquet over the weekend. Hardin Valley is located in Knoxville, and Rose spent time there while in the minor leagues.

“I’ve been in Knoxville before,” Rose told the crowd. “I played here and we beat their team to win the South Atlantic League championship. I also came to Tennessee in 1960 when I was offered a football scholarship. Thank God I didn’t take that, because if I had, I wouldn’t be sitting here talking to you tonight.”

Instead, Rose was named NL Rookie of the Year in 1963 and was baseball’s Most Valuable Player a decade later. He holds MLB records for games played (3,562), singles (3,215), at-bats (14,053) and outs (10,328), making the All-Star team 17 teams.

Rose, 80, is a native of Cincinnati. He won titles as a player with the Reds (1975, ’76) and the Philadelphia Phillies (’80).

As for football, the furthest he ended up advancing was as a running back his senior year at Western Hills High School in Lebanon, Ohio. And as Rose indicated and baseball history has shown, the fact he turned away the Volunteers was a good thing.

Written by Sam Amico

Sam Amico spent 15 years covering the NBA for Sports Illustrated, FOX Sports and, along with a few other spots, and currently runs his own basketball website on the side,


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