What Pete Rose told Harper about Philly before the Phillies move originally appeared on NBC Sports Philadelphia
Pete Rose only spent five of his 21 seasons in Major League Baseball in Philadelphia, but the all-time hits leader has some pretty strong opinions on what the city’s sports fans are like.
And, love him or hate him, Rose seems to understand the city and its fanbase better than most.
Rose, 81, who is still suspended from Major League Baseball because he gambled on games during his time as a player and manager, joined the Takeoff with John Clark podcast this week to chat about his return to Philly, his legacy, the city, and plenty more from Rose’s long past.
MORE: Pete Rose talks robot umps, pitch clocks, and analytics
The 1980 World Champion first baseman had a lot to say about the city’s baseball fans, including what he told reigning NL MVP Bryce Harper before Harper made his move from the Nationals to the Phils in 2019.
“I think I talked to Bryce Harper before he went to Philly,” Rose said, “and I told him, ‘Bryce, bust your ass every day and they will never even start to think about booing you. I don’t care how many times you strike out. If you bust your chops, they’ll love you. You’ve got the talent.’ And he’s got the talent, he’s shown it, okay?
“With Philly fans – you can’t get offended [at boos] if you strike out in the bottom of the ninth with the bases loaded with two outs. They want a hit, they want to win the game. They don’t want to see you strike out. Are you supposed to give them a standing ovation if you make an error or strike out? Hey, suffer the consequences based on your play. Make sure they don’t boo, make sure they yell for you because you got a game-winning hit, you made a game-winning play, you got a game-winning save. Those are the things that make fans happy. Philadelphia fans, they aren’t coming to the games to see the Phillies play, they’re coming to the games to see the Phillies win.”
It’s hard to argue Rose’s points!
And look, while Rose was right about the whole bust-your-ass thing, Harper actually did get booed about a month into his time in Philly. He was in the middle of a slump, a two-week span in which he was hitting .196, and after an ugly 0-for-4 night he heard the boo birds in Citizens Bank Park.
Harper was asked after the game about the boos, and he said he’d “do the same thing” if he were a Phillies fan. The perfect answer. Harper understood the city immediately.
He eventually rounded into form, finished the year with a middling OPS but a career-high in RBIs, and has since been playing at an MVP level for the past 250-plus games in a Phillies uniform.
It’s really not a complicated formula – try hard, help the team win, and we’ll love you forever – but the city’s ethos seems to elude some players for whatever reason.
To Rose’s credit, he thinks it’s the exact right way to be a sports fan.
“I’ve always loved the Philadelphia fans,” Rose said. “They get a bad rap, because my philosophy with the Philadelphia fans is they want two things: they want you to bust your ass, and they want to win. Every fan in every ballpark should want the same thing. That’s what Philly fans want I knew that when I was getting ready to go there, and I found out firsthand once I was there.
“Philly fans, they’re great fans. They’re knowledgeable, they’re passionate, and I guess that’s why I fell in love with them because they stood for the same things that I stood for my whole career.”
Rose will be in attendance Aug. 7 when the Phillies host the Nationals and will be honored along with teammates from the 1980 World Series team.
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