The Wingnuts went through dozens of candidates before hiring Pete Rose Jr. to replace manager Kevin Hooper. Rose didn’t need much advice beyond a consultation with one person – his dad.
Pete Rose Sr., major league baseball’s career hit leader, stopped at Lawrence-Dumont Stadium for a promotional appearance on a sweltering July day last year. He came away with positive impressions of the Wingnuts, which he passed along to his son once Rose Jr. became a managerial option.
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to The Wichita Eagle
Rose replaces Hooper, who led Wichita to six playoff appearances in seven seasons and to the American Association championship in 2014 before he was named minor-league infield coordinator for the San Diego Padres.
Rose, 46, played 20 professional seasons, the last seven in independent baseball. He managed from 2011-14 in the Chicago White Sox organization. He was introduced by the Wingnuts at a Wednesday afternoon press conference.
“I talked to my dad and he said (the Wingnuts) were just first-class people,” Rose said by phone on Wednesday night. “That’s the vibe that you get when you’re around everybody in the organization. They’re going to win here regardless of who’s the manager because they care.”
“…That’s the same vibe that my dad got. He said it was one of the hottest places he’s ever been to, but that’s going to happen occasionally. Nothing but good things. He’s looking forward to the season, too. He’ll be around more and he’s looking forward to it as much as I am.”
Rose made his major-league debut on Sept. 1, 1997 for one of his dad’s former teams, the Cincinnati Reds, and played 10 more games in that season’s final month. The rest of his career was spent in the minors with seven major-league organizations, two independent leagues and the Mexican League.
The transition to coaching and managing was difficult for Rose, who resisted the end of his career in 2009 at age 39. But the move was logical because of Rose’s acumen and lineage. He managed White Sox rookie-level teams for three years and was a Class-A manager in 2014 – he did not manage last year.
“To this day I miss playing,” Rose said. “But when you have a titanium left knee and you can’t play anymore, it’s tough. But it’s easy. It’s baseball. It’s not rocket science, it’s something I was brought up on.… I know baseball. The whole on-field transition and everything that has to do with baseball, that’s the easy part.
“Baseball is baseball. It’s really not that tough. If you’ve been around it long enough it’s really a part of your life, and I’ve been around it for 46 years.”