In yet another case of art imitating life, Pete Rose is going to play Ty Cobb in a made-for-TV movie entitled "The Babe Ruth Story."

That was some casting: Having one of the meanest and most talented players ever to lace up baseball spikes portrayed by one of the meanest and most talented players to follow in his footsteps."It's something that just came in out of the blue," said Cal Levy, the partner at Hamilton Projects in Cincinnati who handles Rose. "It's not a huge role or anything, so they must have figured they didn't need a name actor to play the part.

"And you have to admit," he added, "it is a nice twist on things."

More relentless even than the legendary "Georgia Peach," Rose pursued Cobb's seemingly untouchable career-hit record across the ages until he collected No. 4,192 off Padres pitcher Eric Show in September 1985. The most notable thing he accomplished after that was to get himself in a lot of trouble with both major league baseball and the federal government.

Rose could not be reached for comment Thursday about his latest project. Levy doubted he had much experience in this kind of thing - "No school plays or anything like that so far as I know," he said.

His recent speech at a luncheon to raise money for a Cincinnati-area boys' club was well received, and he has shown some promise as a fill-in sportscaster during two appearances on the local news.

On top of which, generating enthusiasm for the role will certainly not be a problem, not for a guy who dove into everything head-first. In fact, the only acting stretch Rose is likely to have to make for the movie is sliding into bases feet-first.