By John Erardi, John Eckberg and Robert Anglen
The Cincinnati Enquirer
Two of Pete Rose's friends say the former Reds great told them he is going to publicly admit he bet on baseball in exchange for full reinstatement to Major League Baseball.
A third Rose acquaintance and baseball insider said Rose told him that he admitted to major league officials in November in Milwaukee to betting on baseball.
The next big issue, say those friends, is whether Rose will have to admit he bet on Reds games. This is important, because it might affect Rose's ability to get a job in baseball.
As manager of the Reds, Rose would have been in a position to influence the outcome of games by using an injured player or overusing pitchers.
Jeff Ruby, a Cincinnati restaurateur who is close to Rose and one of the few people willing to go on the record with his remarks, told the Enquirer Wednesday that "based upon my relationship with Pete, I tend to believe the reports that are coming out" that Rose will soon be fully reinstated to baseball.
"What I've been thinking about is this: If he's going to admit it, who's going to write it?" Ruby said. "Will he write it and they (baseball) will sign off on it, or are they going to write it and he'll sign off on it?
"I'm just speculating now, but if he is going to admit it, I can see him saying: `On occasion, I bet on games that involved the Reds, but I always bet on them to win.' I can certainly see people reaching out to him and baseball bringing him back if he were to say it that way."
Ruby would not elaborate on the betting issue, except to say that "It's a sensitive time for Pete, and Pete has to guard everything he says," because of the pending reinstatement. Baseball officials already have made it clear Rose is helping his cause by remaining silent.
Ruby's friendship with Rose goes back to the 1970s. Ruby supported Rose through his banishment in 1989 and his subsequent incarceration in federal prison in Marion, Ill., for underreporting his income in the 1980s.
Back in the 1980s, Rose backed Ruby's first restaurant, the Precinct. Ruby was the only friend who visited Rose in Marion and at a halfway house in Cincinnati, and later opened his home to him.
Subsequent to his banishment from baseball in 1989, Rose denied on various radio talk shows and TV shows that he ever bet on baseball games. In 1989, he signed an agreement with Major League Baseball that stated "there shall be no finding" that Rose bet on baseball. But shortly after that agreement was signed, baseball Commissioner Bart Giamatti said he personally believed Rose bet on baseball, based on the evidence compiled by baseball's chief investigator, John Dowd.
At the time, Rose was hoping for early reinstatement based upon cleaning up his life, but Giamatti died a short time later of a heart attack and Rose has been in baseball purgatory ever since.
Ruby said he saw Rose's troubles with baseball coming even before they happened, because Cincinnati native and future public accuser Paul Janszen had come to Ruby with the information that Rose owed Janszen $30,000 in gambling debts and that he had betting slips that showed Rose bet on baseball. Rose denied all of that to him, Ruby said, but Ruby found it sufficiently plausible to contact an attorney, who told him not to pay the $30,000 because it could be an obstruction of justice.
"In retrospect, I don't think it would have been obstruction of justice, because there was no indictment," and nothing in the way of an investigation that he knew of, Ruby said.
"I wish now I would have paid it," Ruby said. "Thirty thousand isn't peanuts, but it would have been worth it not to have Pete go through all this (the past 13 years). I had two restaurants at the time. I could have afforded it. Would (Rose) pay me back? No. He'd have said, `What did you do that for?' Pete told me Janszen didn't have any betting slips showing bets on baseball games, and that Janszen owed him money for non-baseball bets he never got down for him."
Rose's attorney, Roger Makley, didn't return calls from the Enquirer Tuesday and Wednesday.
Rose's business agent, Warren Green, said only: "We are just in a sensitive period. We don't comment on personal matters."
Bob Dowdell, who runs the Pete Rose Web site, www.peterose.com, said that "there will be significant news by the end of February."
Dowdell said Rose was involved in a meeting Wednesday in California regarding his reinstatement.
"Everybody is talking now," Dowdell said. "I hope and pray it's all good."
Rich Levin, a spokesman for Major League Baseball, said there was no meeting between Rose and baseball officials Wednesday and there wouldn't be any the rest of this week or next.
"Nothing is going on," Levin said.
Robert DuPuy, president of Major League Baseball, did not return a phone call from the Enquirer Wednesday.
Tommy Gioiosa, a former Rose confidante, told the Enquirer he received two calls in the past eight months from Major League Baseball chief of security Kevin Hallinan, inquiring about Gioiosa's allegations from 1990 and 2001 that Rose bet on baseball games during the late 1980s when he was manager of the Reds.
Baseball officials declined to comment on Gioiosa's remarks or any possible current investigation into Rose.
Newsday, a New York newspaper, reported Wednesday that Rose could be reinstated by Opening Day, but that he would have to serve a six- to eight-month probation before he could be considered for the Hall of Fame or take a job in baseball.
Based on that timetable, Rose could be eligible for the Hall of Fame in 2004 or back in baseball by spring training 2004.
Does Rose want to manage a big-league team again?
"I don't know, we haven't talked about that," Ruby said. "But my response to that question would be: Did Sinatra like to sing?"
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