Much of baseball joined Pete Rose in his sorrow today, but there was little sympathy for the hit maker himself, banned for life for gambling on the game.
Instead, many lamented the threat to baseball and hoped any damage could soon be repaired.
"I'm sure it's crushing to a lot of people," longtime Cincinnati Reds teammate Johnny Bench said. "It's crushing to all of us that have played with him. You really feel sorry for the situation Pete got himself into."
Although Rose still denies betting on baseball, he accepted the commissioner's punishment as fair.
"If he bet on baseball and he bet on the Reds, that's just the rules of the game," Bench said. " . . . Pete Rose will remain a friend. He has to live with this himself. It'll never be out of his mind, because people won't let him forget."
Sparky Anderson, who managed both Rose and Bench in Cincinnati before going to Detroit, called it a "sad day for baseball, sad for all of us."
"But Pete stood there and took it like a man. He took it like I knew he would," Anderson said.
Reds third baseman Chris Sabo, with his club off today, was at the Little League World Series in Williamsport, Pa., when he heard the news.
"Obviously, I'm disappointed because Pete was a good manager," he said.
"It's sad to see he broke a rule. The rule is there to be followed. He didn't follow it, and now he's paying the punishment," Sabo said. "It's like anything else in life. Hopefully, he'll pay his punishment (and) we can have him back in a year."
In 1985, Rose, who earned the nickname "Charlie Hustle," became the game's most prolific hit maker, breaking Ty Cobb's record of 4,191 lifetime hits. At the time, a place of reverence in baseball lore seemed assured for Rose. Now, many believe that despite his being able to seek reinstatement after a year under the rules of the game, there is no future in baseball for Rose.
'It Will Be Tough'
"I think it will be a tough sell," former Commissioner Bowie Kuhn said. "He has every right to apply, but it will be tough."
Not one of the 14 people previously permanently banned from the game has ever been reinstated.
American League President Bobby Brown called it a day of tragedy "as far as Pete Rose is concerned. I'm 100% behind what the commissioner said. It's been a tough six months for baseball, and hopefully the healing will begin very quickly."