By John Erardi
The Cincinnati Enquirer
With the words many thought Pete Rose could never utter publicly - "Yes, I did" bet on baseball - Cincinnati's most famous native son has finally come clean.
Rose's confession was first heard Monday morning in Cincinnati on local television and radio. The release of the mea culpa was authorized by Rose's associates and the publisher of his new book, Rodale Press. Rose's words were gleaned from his interview with Prime Time, an ABC news show that airs Thursday night.
They sent chills up and down spines across Greater Cincinnati.
The words froze his staunchest supporters, who held out hope he hadn't committed baseball's cardinal sin. The words even hit hard those who thought he was guilty all along, but were still surprised to hear the Hit King say he'd done it.
"I don't know why he spent all these years denying it," said Helen Thomas, owner of the Skywalk Baseball card and memorabilia shop downtown. "Maybe it was his pride that got in the way. Maybe he was getting bad advice. I wish he had done it sooner."
Thursday, Rose begins a promotional tour for his new book, My Prison Without Bars, which has a huge initial press run of 500,000 copies.
After 14 years of denial, of defending himself by saying his main fault was being a "bad picker of friends" and then carving up those former friends for what he said was lying about his betting on baseball, Rose conceded that it is he who has been the liar all these years.
In his book, Rose said he felt "backed into corner. If I had been an alcoholic or a drug addict, baseball would have suspended me for six weeks and paid for my rehabilitation. The players' union had very clear language to deal with those particular transgressions. But I didn't drink or use drugs. I gambled. And not just on horses, football and basketball - I committed the cardinal sin. I lost that bet," says Rose, according to excerpts.
Rose writes in his book that when he was betting on baseball, he knew he was breaking "the letter of the law."
"But I didn't think I'd broken the spirit of the law, which was designed to prevent corruption. During the times I gambled as a manager, I never took an unfair advantage. I never bet more or less based on injuries or inside information. I never allowed my wagers to influence my baseball decisions. So, in my mind, I wasn't corrupt."
Baseball's rules say betting on the game brings a year's suspension, but betting on your own team brings a lifetime ban.
There is not much contriteness in the book, as least not as revealed in the excerpts that Sports Illustrated will carry in Wednesday's issue of the magazine.
"There's no sense of regret, no sense of shame, no sense of the damage he did to baseball," former Commissioner Fay Vincent told the Associated Press. "I guess I'm really disgusted. I think the whole thing is a sordid, miserable story."
As personally damning as Rose's words were, they could ultimately lead to his enshrinement in the Baseball Hall of Fame.
But time is critical, which likely is a major reason behind the timing of his announcement. That, and the fact that Rose is trying to sell 500,000 books.
If Rose is reinstated soon, and depending on the terms of the deal, he could be on the baseball writers' Hall of Fame ballot when it is mailed in December.
"I separate the institution of baseball from the museum," said Sports Illustrated senior writer Tom Verducci, who has read an advance copy of Rose's book. "I think there's definitely a place for him in the Hall of Fame and I think he should be put on the ballot."
But Rose will need 75 percent of the votes from the writers to be elected. There is no guarantee he will get it.
"If he does appear on the writers ballot, I still have some very deep reservations about voting for him based on the seriousness of his violation," said Ken Daley, national baseball writer at the Dallas Morning News.
If Rose is not placed on the writers' ballot by December 2005, his bid would then be forwarded to the Veterans Committee.
Rose's associates were not commenting Monday. Major League Baseball's only official comment was what it always is: Rose has applied for reinstatement, the commissioner is considering it and there is no timetable.
Tommy Gioiosa, a former Rose friend, said Monday that he was glad to hear Rose's admission of guilt, but that Rose's defense - also released Monday - that Rose "never bet from the (Reds) clubhouse" clearly shows the Hit King is still in denial.
Gioiosa's description of Rose's actions matches the essence of the Dowd Report, baseball's 225-page report into Rose's gambling habits. Many of those bets were placed from the clubhouse, which is how investigator John Dowd was able to connect the dots on Rose's baseball betting.
The banishment of Rose from baseball was based upon the opinion of then-Commissioner Bart Giamatti, who relied upon the findings of Dowd, who chronicled 412 baseball wagers by Rose that Dowd said were made between April 8 and July 5, 1987, when Rose managed the Reds.
Fifty-two of those bets were on the Reds to win. Rose never bet against the Reds.
"How in the world can he say he did not bet from the clubhouse?" Gioiosa asked. "I was there when he was doing it. It was going on in '85 - when he was chasing (Ty) Cobb's record - and 1986. ... He had numbers assigned to the teams, and he would call out the numbers. It was like he was being delusional about it, you know, 'I'm betting on numbers, not on teams.'"
Here is what Rose writes in his book about a Nov. 25, 2002, meeting with commissioner Bud Selig in Milwaukee:
"Mr. Selig looked at me and said, 'I want to know one thing. Did you bet on baseball?'
"I looked him in the eye. 'Sir, my daddy taught me two things in life - how to play baseball and how to take responsibility for my actions. I learned the first one pretty well. The other, I've had some trouble with. Yes, sir, I did bet on baseball.'"
Said Rose, while acknowledging his own untruthfulness:
"For the last 14 years, I've consistently heard the statement: 'If Pete Rose came clean, all would be forgiven.' Well, I've done what you've asked. The rest is up to the commissioner and the big umpire in the sky."
E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. Kevin Kelly and Neil Schmidt contributed.
A ROSE IS A ROSE
Nickname: Charlie Hustle, reportedly given to him by New York Yankees pitcher Whitey Ford after he saw Rose sprint to first base on a walk in a 1963 spring training game.
High school: Western Hills.
Jersey number: 14.
Positions: First base, second base, third base, right field, center field, left field.
World Series champion: 1975 (Reds), 1976 (Reds), 1980 (Phillies). Rose batted .269 in 34 World Series games.
All-Star: 17 times between 1965-85.
National League Rookie of the Year: 1963.
National League MVP: 1973.
Career hits (4,256); games played (3,562); singles (3,215); at-bats (14,053).
High honor: Second Street was renamed Pete Rose Way in 1985.
Career average: .303
Home runs: 160
Runs scored: 2,165
ROSE AS MANAGER
1. Who hit the single that allowed Rose to score the winning run in the 12th inning of the 1970 All-Star Game, when he crashed into American League catcher Ray Fosse?
2. In the third game of the 1973 National League playoffs, which New York Mets player did Rose slide into hard, starting a fight and prompting both benches to clear?
3. Which Atlanta pitcher struck out Rose in the ninth inning Aug. 1, 1978, to end Rose's 44-game hitting streak?
4. San Diego pitcher Eric Show gave up Rose's record 4,192nd career hit Sept. 11, 1985. Who was the Padres' first baseman who first congratulated Rose after his single?
5. How old was Pete Rose Jr. on the day his father broke Ty Cobb's hit record?
1. Jim Hickman of the Chicago Cubs. 2. Bud Harrelson. 3. Gene Garber. 4. Steve Garvey. 5. 15.
For the 16th time, Pete Rose is on the cover of Sports Illustrated, due out Wednesday.
His book, My Prison Without Bars, will go on sale Thursday.
His interview with Charlie Gibson is at 10 p.m. Thursday on Primetime Live (Channels 9, 2).
Rose signs books at
Joseph-Beth Booksellers, from 6-8 p.m. Jan. 21.
He bet on baseball
Daugherty: Truth for sale
Editorial: Rose's confession doesn't change a thing
Rose grooves one for Selig
Rose felt heat in summer of '89
Roadblocks still occupy Rose's Cooperstown path
Gambling problems underestimated
Straight from Pete
Admission brings redemption
Hometown support strong
Rose memorabilia value should remain high
Revelation evokes relief, shock
Attention will shift to Selig's decision
What others are saying
Pete Rose timeline
Dantonio putting together his staff
MORE FOOTBALL HEADLINES
Bengals stay on Clear Channel
Manning wins starting spot among elite
Design new grid to crown champ
Sharing just fine with Louisiana St.
Title game ratings down from last year
Moeller's top ranking enhanced after close loss to national power
Covington Catholic maintains its perch atop boys rankings
Prep sports results, schedules
Broncos, Rockets, Flashes start quickly
Wildcats, Bearcats move up in polls
MORE SPORTS HEADLINES
Local hockey update
Sports on TV, radio
Return to Reds front page...