Pete Rose, baseball’s all-time hits leader, was banned for life 25 years ago for betting on baseball while he was the manager of the Cincinnati Reds. He still holds out hope of being reinstated.
Rose recently managed the independent Bridgeport Bluefish for a game last month. “They took some extra bases, made some headfirst slides, and we won 2-0,” he said.
Major League Baseball began investigating his gambling on baseball during the 1987 season. The evidence showed Rose gambled up to $20,000 per game at one point according to ESPN.
MLB Commissioner Bart Giamatti received a 225-page report from investigator John Dowd containing depositions, documents, and reports that showed Rose had gambled on baseball, including the Reds. A handwriting expert determined that Rose’s writing was on bet slips, as well as his fingerprints.
On August 24, 1989, in a packed room in New York City, Giamatti addressed the media.
“One of the game’s greatest players has engaged in a variety of acts which have stained the game, and he must now live with consequences of those acts,” he said.
Rose insisted for 15 years he did not bet on baseball, though admitting he bet on other sports. He finally came clean in a television interview with Charlie Gibson in 2004.
Rose accepted the lifetime ban from Giamatti with the understanding he could apply for reinstatement after one year. That opportunity never arised after Giamatti died of a heart attack eight days later. Fay Vincent, who was commissioner until 1992, and current one Bud Selig have not taken up the Rose reinstatement plea.
Rose, who was given the nickname “Charlie Hustle” once said “I’d walk through hell in a gasoline suit to play baseball” was popular for the way he played the game. He was also quoted as saying “Playing baseball for a living is like having a license to steal.”
He has realized his mistakes, saying “I was dead wrong in everything I did,” Rose said. “I should have fessed up when I was called into the office. But with my age at the time and two young kids, and all of a sudden I was going to lose my job, and I’ve been playing baseball since I was 9 years-old – how are my kids going to survive?” reported the New York Times.
Rose, now 73, lives in Las Vegas where he watches baseball games every day, and sometimes receives text messages from players asking advice.
He used to hear from Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez, who is serving a one year suspension for his use of performance-enhancing drugs. Rose said he could relate to Rodriguez in a way.
“For anybody in a situation like I was in or he was in: Come forward as quickly as possible,” he said. “Because once you get it off your chest, the healing starts. If you have to live with it, it drives you crazy.”
Rose retired after the 1986 season after playing 24 years with 4,256 hits. He is also the career leader in games played, at-bats and games won.
[Image via ESPN]