Editor’s note: A version of this story appeared earlier in the community sections of The Tampa Tribune.
PLANT CITY — Pete Rose is just a memory at Plant City Stadium.
With one exception: His locker is still there.
No one seems to know why his locker wasn’t removed when he was banned for life from baseball in 1989 or when the Reds left Plant City after the 1997 spring training season.
The red locker, made of wood and bearing Rose’s name, stands empty in the old clubhouse that now is offices and storage for the International Softball Federation.
Emilio Mendoza, superintendent for the city’s parks division, said city crews cleaned out the clubhouse after the Reds left following 10 spring training seasons here. He can’t recall why Rose’s locker was left untouched.
The Reds moved to Plant City in the late 1980s from their longtime spring training home, Al Lopez Field in Tampa.
Plant City is a footnote in baseball history and the star’s fall from grace. Rose was the team’s manager and was in Plant City when news broke that he was accused of betting on baseball games.
Rose accepted a punishment that barred him for life from the sport.
International Softball Federation Honorary President Don Porter said the locker is a conversation piece when visitors tour the federation’s headquarters at 1900 S. Park Road.
Porter said the federation, which is raising money to build a hall of fame and museum at the stadium complex, would be willing to sell the locker. If a buyer doesn’t emerge, the locker will go on display when the softball museum opens, perhaps in about one year.
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