All in all, Kevin Burkhardt had a pretty good Tuesday night.
Of course, that’s to be expected when you spend a couple of hours rubbing elbows with baseball royalty at the MLB All-Star Game.
“It was pretty great,” the FOX broadcaster said on CBS Sports Radio’s Gio and Jones. “If you just kind of pinch yourself and allow yourself to be a fan, which is, I think, why we all got into this. For one, I’m sitting on the studio panel with Frank Thomas and Pete Rose talking shop, which is not the worst thing in the world. Both are just fun to hang out with. Then I got a chance to do a sit-down with Hank Aaron and Johnny Bench that they ran after the game. That’s all right. That’s not a bad day at the office. I get paid to do that.”
After his interview with Aaron and Bench, Burkhardt asked if he could get a photo with them.
“I don’t think I’ve ever done (that) ever,” Burkhardt said. “But when will you ever get that opportunity to be in the room with those two at the same time? They were great about it. It was really just neat to be around baseball royalty, you know?
That includes the banned-for-life Pete Rose. What’s he like? What’s his personality?
“He is funny,” Burkhardt said, chuckling. “He is funny. Being around him has been great. He’s a real team player. He loves the whole being a part of the TV thing. He loves talking baseball. He watched it constantly. I think last night meant a great deal to him. He didn’t really get emotional, but knowing him a little bit now – not that I know him well, but knowing him a little bit – you could see how much it meant to him to be on the field, to get that warm ovation. He feels really positive with the new commissioner, Rob Manfred. He met him for the first time last night, kind of unscheduled. He had never met. Obviously he applied for reinstatement and they had a good conversation, according to (Rose). I think it means everything to him. The guy lives and dies the game. The guy is just all about the Cincinnati Reds. Just loves being around and talking the game. He’s great to be around. He’s fun. He loves to poke you, but he loves to get jabbed back. It’s a cool dynamic. It really is.”
Burkhardt doesn’t agree with Rose’s detractors who say he doesn’t care about baseball or the Hall of Fame and that he just wants to make money any way he can.
“In some way, I think the fact that he’s not in the Hall of Fame probably makes him more money, if that makes any sense,” Burkhardt said. “He signs plenty of autographs and does plenty of card shows and things like that and gets paid handsomely because he’s Pete Rose. And I think part of that is because he’s kind of the outlaw. People either love him or hate him, but the adulation I’ve seen for him is incredible. I think in some ways that probably helps him a little bit. I really truly think that has nothing to do with it. The money part has nothing to do with the Hall of Fame. He just wants to be back in the game. He wants to be able to go tot he yard, to go on the field, to go to the batting cage, to talk to the Reds while they hit – that’s what he wants to do. The money, he’s still going to be able to do all the things that he does. I just think he wants to be around (the game. He misses it. He’s a baseball lifer. It’s what is important to him.”