I recently met Pete for the first time at his signing job at Caesar's Palace. Since I wouldn't give a nickel for any man's autograph, I stood pat until he took a break from his shift to duck inside the store to check out some college football scores.
I announced myself as a life-long fan, placed my hand out with a smile, shook his, while Pete returned the courtesy with a smile en route to his signing table.
I finally had met my boyhood hero.
Interesting as it was, there was something quite unsettling in witnessing first hand the world HE has created for himself, and what he has become by his own undoing.
Later that same day, I wondered why Pete had never bothered to pursue baseball interests outside of MLB. As a guy who is reputed to love the game of baseball more than life itself, why didn't Pete every consider making himself available to a managing job, say in Japan? Perhaps the language & cultural barriers would have been insurmountable for Pete, however the Japanese would have cheered him feverishly. In fact, I do recall the Japanese naming Pete as their favorite American player while the Big Red Machine barnstormed Japan in the middle '70's.
Such a scenario returns him to the limelight, gives him the type of money he obviously craves, and most importantly, puts him back in the game... not MLB, but baseball nonetheless.
Had Pete pursued a change of scenery, say back in 1990, it would have been a positive step towards his rehabilitation. Most certainly he would have become a more viable consideration for reinstatement by MLB than the Pete who chose to spend his time in denial at the track and various gambling halls.
Recalling the scene at Caesar's, Pete seems to have strayed far beyond convincing me that his mind would be only on baseball if reinstated and allowed to participate on a day-to-day basis as a manager or coach.
In the end, it's too bad Pete never queried Bobby Valentine about the possibilities of rejoining the game he so dearly loves on the ball fields of Japan. IMO, Pete would have looked great in the Hiroshima Carp uniform.