Tuesday, August 07, 2001

Ex-confidant: Rose bet on baseball

Gioiosa kept mum 12 years

By John Erardi
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Twelve years after Pete Rose was banned from baseball, another accuser has come forward to say the hit king bet on the national pastime.

        In the September issue of Vanity Fair magazine, Tommy Gioiosa, a former confidant of Mr. Rose, says Mr. Rose bet on baseball games involving various teams, including the Reds.

        Among Mr. Gioiosa's other claims: That Mr. Rose used a corked bat during his pursuit of Ty Cobb's all-time hits record in 1985; that Mr. Rose had Mr. Gioiosa forge Mr. Rose's signa ture on memorabilia; and that Mr. Rose invested money in a cocaine deal because of its potential for financial return.

        Mr. Rose declined to be interviewed for the Vanity Fair story. Mr. Rose's agent, Warren Greene, told the magazine Mr. Gioiosa's remarks are one-sided and refer to events more than a decade old, and that Mr. Gioiosa, a convicted felon, cannot be considered credible.

The findings of baseball's investigation of Pete Rose in 1989.

An Enquirer special section on Aug. 22, 1989 looked back at the Rose case 10 years later.

        “It's not worth it to sit down and contradict a new version of someone's story,” Mr. Greene told the magazine.

        The Enquirer was unable to reach Mr. Rose for comment Monday.

        Mr. Gioiosa said he was in Mr. Rose's company when the former Reds manager called another major-league manager to talk about the status of that team's starting pitcher that night.

        “Who's pitching? How's he feeling,” Mr. Gioiosa recalls Mr. Rose asking.

        “Like he really cared,” Mr. Gioiosa tells the reporter. “Of course it was for betting.”

        Mr. Gioiosa says it was he who found then-bookmaker Ron Peters to handle Mr. Rose's $2,000-per-game bets that began with football and basketball, but then escalated to baseball. Mr. Gioiosa says Mr. Rose made some bets directly from his phone in the Reds' clubhouse as Mr. Gioiosa listened.

        Major League Baseball has not been willing to reinstate Mr. Rose, who petitioned for reinstatement in 1997. Officials have said the evidence against Mr. Rose is overwhelming.

        Mr. Gioiosa's statements corroborate what Mr. Peters and Paul Janszen told John Dowd, who had been hired by MLB to investigate the extent of Mr. Rose's gambling: Mr. Rose bet on baseball.

        Mr. Janszen was an informant in the federal investigation of Mr. Peters. In 1989, Mr. Peters pleaded guilty to cocaine trafficking and making a false income tax return and served a two-year sentence at a federal prison camp. Also in 1989, Mr. Janszen served four months in a federal halfway house for failing to report income from the sale of steroids.

        Mr. Gioiosa, a Massachusetts native who lived with the Rose family and played second base at the University of Cincinnati, did not cooperate in baseball's investigation of Mr. Rose. He was sentenced to five years in prison for transporting cocaine and tax fraud.

        Mr. Gioiosa told Vanity Fair he finally decided to tell his full story because the saga of Mr. Rose will never go away — for Mr. Rose or for him. He also said he has seen constant references to himself in news accounts that don't come close to revealing what he says happened and why he did what he did.

        In the Vanity Fair article, Mr. Gioiosa also makes statements which, if true, would undermine the purity of Mr. Rose's pursuit of the all-time hit mark. Mr. Gioiosa says Mr. Rose — late in his career, when he was in hot pursuit of Cobb's career hits re cord — used an illegal bat. Mr. Rose was in his office with his bat and pointed to a little hole: “Check it out. Cork,” Mr. Gioiosa quotes Mr. Rose as telling him.

        Mr. Gioiosa says that when he asked Mr. Rose what would happen if the bat filled with cork in the barrel broke during the game, Mr. Rose said “there'd be (expletive deleted) cork all over the place.”

        Mr. Gioiosa says Mr. Rose then told him the bat wouldn't break because he would lay off the kind of pitches that cause a bat to break.

        Mr. Gioiosa also says Mr. Rose had him forge his signature on memorabilia, and invested money in a cocaine deal because of its potential for financial return. But Donald Stenger, who later pleaded guilty to conspiracy to distribute cocaine, denied to Vanity Fair Mr. Gioiosa's allegation that he and Mr. Gioiosa had picked up a large quantity of cash from Mr. Rose's Indian Hill home with Mr. Rose's authorization to take it to Florida to buy cocaine.


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