I WAS RUNNING behind getting a Father's Day gift for my beleaguered dad - beleaguered because he now realizes his three children have reached their full potential and we're not talking presidential material here - so I figured I'd save time by buying something online.
Alas, when I went to the famed World Wide Web, I was stunned to see that 16 percent of all available online items were Pete Rose-branded merchandise.
Pete Rose collectibles, Pete Rose posters, Pete Rose autographs, Pete Rose memorabilia - everything but Pete Rose genitalia was available.
In fact, in 2009 - the most recent year for which figures are available - Pete Rose had a larger GNP than Puerto Rico.
Out of baseball involuntarily for 23 years now, Rose has maintained an income the old-fashioned way - by selling his name $39.99 at a time.
Actually, other than, say, the unsigned Pete Rose Montreal Expos Bobble Head ($8.99), most Pete Rose paraphernalia is going to cost you a whole lot more.
(By the way, in addition to his online retail onslaught, the all-time hits leader is also doing a 90-minute, one-man stage show billed as "An Evening With Pete Rose," in which he tells stories, takes questions from the audience and reminisces. Sort of Garrison Keillor, with a bookie.)
From Charlie Hustle to Charlie Hustler: An American Success Story.
Autographed Pete Rose bat, $221.99.
Autographed Pete Rose baseball with "Big Red Machine" inscription, $107.25.
Autographed Pete Rose throwback jersey with "4256," $176.12.
Autographed ticket from Pete Rose 4,192-hit game, $188.99.
Autographed Pete Rose Cincinnati Enquirer 4,192 front page, $149.99.
(Forget the mind-boggling glut of Pete Rose-autographed merchandise. Here's the more mind-boggling reality: Rose had to autograph all this stuff. I mean, at this very moment, if he's not snacking, sleeping or showering, I assume he must be signing something. If Rose had been born before John Hancock, the expression would be, "Put your Charlie Hustle here.")
Unquestionably, the most intriguing Pete Rose commodity is the signed baseball with the inscription, "I'm Sorry I Bet On Baseball," available on various sites from $144.99 to $265.86. But let's be blunt here: Rose is not sorry he bet on baseball; he's sorry betting on baseball got him banned from the game, and I guarantee you he's even more sorry he lost when he bet on baseball.