The Philadelphia Phillies canceled a ceremony to induct Pete Rose into the team's Wall of Fame after allegations surfaced this week that the all-time hits leader maintained a sexual relationship in the 1970s with a girl before she turned 16.
"Due to recent events, the Phillies and Pete Rose have decided that Pete will not participate in the Phillies Alumni Weekend festivities to be held at Citizens Bank Park on Aug. 10-13, 2017," the Phillies announced Wednesday in a release.
Rose, who is banned from baseball because he bet on games while manager of the Cincinnati Reds, had been voted by Phillies fans to be inducted into the team's Wall of Fame. He was scheduled to be honored Aug. 12.
"While I am truly honored that the Phillies fans voted for me to be this year's Wall of Fame inductee, I am concerned that other matters will overshadow the goodwill associated with Alumni Weekend, and I agree with the decision not to participate," the now 76-year-old Rose said in a statement.
ESPN's "Outside the Lines" reported this week that a sworn statement by an unidentified woman, contained in a motion filed in John Dowd's defense against Rose's defamation lawsuit, alleges that Rose had a sexual relationship with the woman for several years in the 1970s, beginning before she turned 16.
Dowd oversaw the investigation that led to Rose's ban from baseball in 1989.
Rose acknowledged he had a sexual relationship with the woman in court documents made public Monday and obtained by ESPN, but he said his information and belief was that it started when she was 16.
Rose was 34, married and the father of two children in 1975 when he admitted he began having sex with the woman, referred to in the filing as "Jane Doe." Rose said he does not recall how long the relationship lasted, according to the court documents.
The woman's account does not raise the prospect of a criminal charge for Rose because it is well past Ohio's statute of limitations.
Contacted by "Outside the Lines" on Monday, Ray Genco, one of Rose's attorneys, said in an email: "John Dowd purposely made a defamatory statement that damaged Pete -- serial pedophilia consisting of the statutory rape of 12- to 14-year-olds during spring training. It is also false. And Judge Tucker just ruled that it constitutes defamation per se.
"Dowd can't defend his own actions here -- so he is distracting. It's just Dowd attacking Pete instead of defending his own inexplicable accusations on the radio the day before Pete was to be honored in Cincinnati at the All-Star Game. His litigation strategy is to further drag Pete's name through the mud. It's a witch hunt -- and won't be a successful litigation strategy."
David Tobin, an attorney for Dowd, told "Outside the Lines" on Monday, "We'll let the filing speak for itself."
The Phillies also said they will not give away a Rose bobblehead figure as planned on Aug. 11.
Rose, who played for the Phillies from 1979 through 1983, was a key member of their 1980 World Series championship team.
Last month, the Reds dedicated a bronze statue Rose as the Cincinnati native joined team statues of Joe Nuxhall, Frank Robinson, Ernie Lombardi, Ted Kluszewski, Johnny Bench, Joe Morgan and Tony Perez.
Major League Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred rejected Rose's request in December 2015 to lift the lifetime ban. In 1997, Rose sought reinstatement to the game by then-commissioner Bud Selig, who never acted on the petition.
Manfred said the eligibility of Rose for the Hall of Fame was a matter beyond his responsibility or authority. In September 2016, Rose petitioned the National Baseball Hall of Fame officials to include him on future ballots. However, Rose's request for the Hall of Fame to reconsider his case and allow him to stand for election was denied in December.
Rose amassed a record 4,256 hits during his 24-year playing career. He was a career .303 hitter who won three World Series rings.
Rose passed Ty Cobb as career hits leader with 4,192 on Sept. 11, 1985, with a single off San Diego's Eric Show. Rose played for the Reds from 1963 to 1978 and 1984 to 1986, acting as both a player and a manager from 1984 to 1986 and continuing as just a manager until 1989. Rose's No. 14 was retired by the Reds in June 2016 after being inducted into the franchise's Hall of Fame.