Moore, a Miami ‘78 alum and professor, explains how baseball icon Pete Rose jump-started his sports writing career
Crisp white baseball jerseys gleamed in contrast to the lush red carpeting and red cubicles in the crowded lobby of the Cincinnati Reds clubhouse. Sports reporters stood in a group waiting for interviews, while public relations directors bustled through the room.
A 19-year-old Terence Moore, a first-year student at Miami University, stood against the wall, terrified.
It was 1975, five years into the dominance of the Big Red Machine. Moore had lived in Cincinnati since he was 12 years old and grew up a fan of the baseball juggernaut.
He stood in the clubhouse, feeling out-of-place, to say the least, to be breathing the same air as Hall of Famers Johnny Bench, Tony Perez and Joe Morgan. César Gerónimo sat across from him coolly smoking a cigarette.
“I shouldn’t even be here,” Moore recalls thinking. “I felt like I was going to be exposed.”
A new writer for The Miami Student, he was stuck between wanting to stay and wanting to leave. After 15 minutes, he headed for the door.
But then he saw him.
“It was almost like God dropped Pete Rose from heaven, from out of nowhere,” Moore says. “I did not see him in that clubhouse until I turned to leave. And he was walking straight towards me.”
Rose introduced himself and asked for a name.
“I kinda stuttered out ‘Terry.’ Everything about that was overwhelming,” Moore says. “I mean, first of all, Pete is Pete Rose. He was huge. And second of all, he’s my all-time favorite player. And he’s introducing himself to me? A little freshman from Miami of Ohio? It just didn’t make any sense.”
The baseball star asked Moore if he worked for the Cincinnati Enquirer, but of course, he knew the young student didn’t – he only wanted to make the out-of-place Moore feel more comfortable.
“Well, when you work for the Enquirer someday, you’ll probably get a chance to interview me,” Rose said.
A young Terence didn’t know what to expect that day, but he surely didn’t expect a prophecy from his childhood idol.
Growing up, Moore lived in three states in three years. His father had a job with AT&T that required frequent relocation.
They moved to Cincinnati in 1968 – the beginning of the Big Red Machine.
“I don’t think it was a coincidence,” Moore says.
Soon enough, Moore became obsessed with the team. He and his younger brothers Dennis and Darrell frequently visited Crosley Field to collect Pete Rose autographs.
In 1969, 12-year-old Moore and his family sat in the right field stands at a Chicago Cubs game.
Rose was at the plate. Though he was walked, he sprinted to first base. The fans behind Moore’s family called Rose a show-off. But young Terence didn’t care.
“I was like whoa! He had me right there,” Moore says.
At his dad’s company picnic, Moore stumbled across a Pete Rose book – he finished reading it the same day and was hooked.
He took Rose’s advertisements seriously, too.
“’Hi, I’m Pete Rose’s wife. In the Rose household we use Gulden’s brown mustard,’” Moore recalls Rose’s wife Karolyn saying in a TV commercial. “And from that day to this day, that is the only mustard I use. Gulden’s brown mustard.”
A few years later, Rose walked up to Moore in the clubhouse and asked if he was working at the Enquirer yet. Moore told him he was an intern.
“No, you’ll be here full-time,” Rose said.
One year later as a new Miami graduate, Moore was a full-time reporter for the Enquirer.
Now an Atlanta-based national sports columnist and commentator for CNN.com, ESPN and MLB.com, Moore has covered the World Series, 25 Super Bowls, three Olympic Games, Final Fours and players from Muhammad Ali to Michael Jordan, but he still gets nervous around Pete Rose.
“In 40 years of doing this, there’s only two people I still feel 12 years old around,” Moore says. “One is Pete Rose.”
The connection between Rose and Moore has gone back awhile.
Moore was there in 1978 when Rose achieved a 44-game hitting streak; in 1985, when Rose broke Ty Cobb’s all-time hits record; and in 1989, when Rose was banned from baseball at Riverfront Stadium in a press conference.
When Moore worked for the San Francisco Examiner in the early 1980s, Rose and the Reds were in town for a game against the San Francisco Giants. Rose saw Moore in the clubhouse and called him over to his locker.
“I’m thinking ‘oh he’s gonna praise me about what a great columnist I am,’” Moore recalls. “He reaches into his locker and pulls out the Examiner, and he’s got my story circled. He says ‘what the eff were you thinking?’”
The article included an incorrect statistic.
“There’s no excuse for this,” Rose said. “You should not be making these types of mistakes. You understand? You’re better than that. So don’t do it again.”
Moore walked away with his head hanging low. But ten minutes later, Rose tapped him on the shoulder, gave “that Pete Rose smile” and asked him how he liked living in San Francisco.
“There’s no other player that would do that,” Moore says. “He is the most real athlete I have ever met.”
The two have kept in touch throughout the years, and they reunited in September 2015 on Miami’s Oxford campus when Rose spoke to a group of students. Rose still calls Moore “Terry” because of the first time they met.
“I followed his career and he became a really, really first-class writer,” Rose says. “He was always very knowledgeable, very sincere when he interviewed you, very honest. He had all the ingredients.”
But the connection hasn’t always been comfortable.
“During the gambling thing, that was a real tough time for me,” Moore says.
Rose bet on Reds games as a player and manager from 1984 to 1988 and was banned from baseball in 1989.
Moore is a Hall of Fame voter, and when you’re like him — a “strict constructionist when it comes to the rules” — the two sentiments don’t match up.
“For us baseball writers, there’s really only one rule of note. And it says we have to consider integrity and character,” Moore says. “So betting on baseball is the cardinal sin of baseball.”
But Moore has gotten off the hook: Rose will never be on the writers’ ballot. If Rose gets his chance to be inducted one day, he’ll be on the veterans’ ballot.
If he had the opportunity, though, Moore says he’d vote for Rose. After all, Rose gave the young reporter a chance 40 years ago.
“If you’re allowed in the clubhouse, you’re – what we say – part of the family,” Rose says. “If I know he’s nervous, but I know he’s sincere, then you treat him like he’s already been there forever. Because everybody’s gotta start somewhere.”