The matter of what to do about Peter Edward “Pete” Rose just took a more serious turn for finality recently.

New MLB Commissioner (Rob Manfred) confirmed that Rose has formally filed for reinstatement.

Not that we didn’t see this coming.

For the past 25 years, Rose has been skulking around the sidelines of baseball looking for any chance he could get to bolster his cause.

Now that the new Commissioner has barely taken office for 2 months, Rose seems to have pounced on the opportunity.

Perhaps he thinks that time and his publicity stunts have helped to soften public opinion and may get him back into the new Commissioner’s “good graces”.

Evidence is certainly pointing in that direction.

There seems to be overwhelming fan support for him and positive endorsement from many in the media.

Just take a look at a sampling of what respected sports writers have recently said:

Steve Siebold wrote on June 18, 2014 for the Huffington Post that Rose deserves reinstatement “for all the memories he gave us”.

Hall of Fame voter Scott Miller said on August 23, 2014 that Rose should be forgiven and his story is a “tragedy”.

Dan Epstein of Rolling Stone argued that Rose’s crime was merely an “infraction as a manager” and that his incredible career should be enough to get him into the Hall.

Gregg Doyel of CBS Sports wrote on August 22, 2014, “enough’s enough”, “he’s done his time” and that baseball somehow wants Rose to “suffer” and that he was even “embarrassed” and “humiliated” by MLB.

Even Buster Olney of ESPN thinks Rose should at least be “paroled” and that “no real purpose is served by keeping him locked away from the sport anymore”.

Are these guys nuts??

Why are they letting their judgment on Pete Rose be clouded by his playing career statistics?  Or, letting sentimental memories enter the decision?  How did Rose become a victim of baseball in all of this?  Isn’t it the other way around?

The fact is that Rose was a corrupt person who put his own personal and financial interests above the interests of the sport.

He broke one of only 7 deadly sins under the MLB Misconduct Rules that no player should ever commit.

And, on and off the field, Rose has proven that he thinks he can bend any rule and have it forgiven.

No way should Rose be given a second chance.

Let’s take a look at the facts:

In early 1989, reports began surfacing that Pete Rose was betting on baseball while he was managing the Cincinnati Reds.

The Commissioner at the time (Bartlett Giamatti) charged attorney John Dowd with launching an investigation and to provide a summary of his findings.

After 6 months of extensive witness testimony, taped conversations, and evidence provided, Dowd presented his findings to MLB which has become known as the “Dowd Report”.

Dowd’s conclusion confirmed everyone’s worst fears. A synopsis:

  1. Rose was deposed extensively under oath and was asked if he ever wagered on MLB games or associated with anyone who had. He denied all accusations and questions in detail about his betting past.  Direct witness testimony, taped conversations, and Rose’s own betting sheets proved otherwise.
  2. In fact, evidence showed that Rose bet on baseball games while he was playing and managing for the Cincinnati Reds during 1984-1987. And, one of Rose’s middlemen even claimed Rose was betting on “every Reds game” (at least during 1987).
  3. Rose’s standard was to put down $2,000 on each baseball game. He also bet on other sports such as basketball, NCAA, football and horse racing.
  4. Rose generally did not deal directly with bookmakers, but used third parties and friends (or “middlemen” or “runners”) to place his bets.
  5. These runners were instructed to place bets with cash and payoff bets with cash, thus helping to cover the trail more covertly and hide winnings from being taxed.
  6. Rose also sometimes paid off his debts with checks written to fictitious names so as not to leave a paper trail.
  7. Rose generally chose young men to be his runners that he would “take under his wing” and who lived with him on occasion. Some even crossed over into the MLB merchandising business with Rose.  In fact, Rose would sign autographs, bats, and other memorabilia and used the profits to pay off his debts.
  8. Rose’s betting was so extensive that he often used multiple bookies so he wouldn’t be in too much debt with one at a time. Testimony revealed that he was in debt up to $400,000 to a NY bookie in baseball betting alone.
  9. Many of Rose’s middlemen were involved in cocaine running, distributing illegal steroids, and at least one served time after a conviction of tax evasion.
  10. Rose allegedly had his runners cash in his winnings on a regular basis to “evade his tax liability”.
  11. Rose knew there was a possibility that he and/or his bookie friends could be tapped over the phone by the Feds, so he advised his people to take precautions and use “key words”.
  12. Rose had a reputation for not paying off his debts (or, leaving his middlemen “hanging out to dry”). He would allegedly come up with many excuses and promised to pay them off, yet he would spend his money on personal things like building a new house in Florida while their debts remained unpaid & his runners threatened by bookies.
  13. A bookie testified that once he was losing heavily to Rose during the beginning of the 1987 baseball season when the Reds were “winning a lot of games”. He told investigators that he remembered Rose placing a bet about 5 minutes right before a Reds game.
  14. Rose allegedly told a witness that betting on the baseball playoffs made them “more exciting to him”.
  15. In 1985 when Rose owed a lot of money to a bookie, he used the red corvette he received as a gift from the Reds owner when he broke the all-time MLB hits record as collateral to pay off the debt.
  16. On occasion, Rose’s middlemen would front their own money or even take out loans to help pay Rose’s growing debts when their family members were threatened with violence by the bookies (one middleman’s mother and another’s child). Rose was apparently aware of these threats.
  17. Some of the middlemen agreed to these conditions, because they wished to protect Rose and prevent his betting on baseball from going public. Meanwhile, another pondered whether he should bring the matter to court and yet another felt he had been “used” by Rose to front the money for the bets.
  18. Rose told one of his runners to get winnings he made from another bookie to pay off the debts he had with another. Rose’s lawyer was even involved to help get the debts paid off.
  19. Phone records and witness testimony confirm that Rose was making calls to and from his runners from the clubhouse on game days.
  20. Although Dowd never proved Rose bet against the Reds, he is convinced that it happened. In a later interview, Dowd said he was close to finding the evidence, but ran out of time.

After this evidence was presented to Rose and his attorneys, he eventually entered into an Agreement to become “permanently ineligible” from baseball.  His conditions were that the investigations would stop, no public hearing held, and he would be eligible to become reinstated within a year.

Just eight days later, Commissioner Giammatti died suddenly of a massive heart attack.

Deputy Commissioner Fay Vincent took over, but made it known that he did not support Rose’s reinstatement.

On February 4, 1991, the MLB Hall of Fame voted formally to exclude individuals on the permanently ineligible list from being inducted by way of the Baseball Writers Association of America vote. Rose is the only living member of the ineligible list.

In 1997, Rose formally applied for Reinstatement.

On November 24, 2002, Rose received the chance to plead his case before then Commissioner Bud Selig.  Rose allegedly admitted his wrongdoings face to face with Selig.  But, Selig did not reinstate him.

Rose’s Autobiography

In 2004, Rose released his autobiography entitled “My Prison Without Bars”, ghost written with screenwriter Rick Hill.  In it, Rose admits to betting on baseball.  But, the book was not a tell-all that provided apologies.

Instead, Rose blamed his lifetime of past mistakes (skipping school, causing trouble as a youth, gambling, cheating on wives, and tax evasion among others) on having “Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder” or ADHD.

He repeatedly included actual doctors using medical terminology to explain that he had an alleged “impulse disorder” which caused him to make bad decisions throughout his lifetime.

Even one passage by a Dr. Comings explains that the reason Rose turned to betting on baseball was because he was “just not able to distinguish between sports when it came time to place his bets”.

Also in his book, Rose blamed his upbringing on the city streets and his father for getting him into gambling in the first place.  Then he insinuated that his father’s death in 1970 when he was 29 years old began the downward spiral.

In addition, Rose tried to explain away all of the negative testimony which appeared in the Dowd Report by blaming the middlemen who were somehow jealous, “cheated” him, were on drugs, “unloyal”, “vindictive” or just aholes. He painted a picture of them as the seedy ones who threatened him & tried to embezzle money.

He claimed these middlemen went to the FBI and ratted him out because they were able to cut deals and save themselves.

Rose also tried to explain his multiple infidelities with women over the years by using fancy phrases like “plausible deniability” and comparing himself to the likes of former President Bill Clinton.

As far as the MLB and betting scandal, Rose blamed the sport for not giving him the “opportunity to get help”, because baseball had no “rehab” for gamblers like they [did] for drug addicts or alcoholics.

He also claimed in his book that the media “turned on [him]”.  He wrote that they took the truth and “added their slant”, turning “truth into half-truths” who also “smelled blood in the water and dove into the feeding frenzy with a vengeance”.

Rose also said that he felt Commissioner Giammatti was “unfair”, because the public attention and media “affected his judgment” as he was so inundated with the matter.

Rose said he agreed to a permanent ban from baseball because he had no choice and didn’t want to continue to fight.  He said the sport had “God-like power” which granted the Commissioner complete authority which was “illegal” because it denied the basic principles of “due process”.

Rose also spoke of when he was put in prison for tax evasion.  He said that it stemmed from “fallout” from the government’s investigation of him & his bookie friends re: the Dowd Report. He seemed defiant & indicated that “some people believe that I went to prison because the authorities prove that I bet on baseball”.

Still, he admitted to taking cash for his big card shows & autograph signings and not reporting them to the government, because “all of” the ballplayers did it.  Yet, he seemed defiant that he even went to jail for under-paying his taxes “by [only] four percent”.  Essentially, he feels he was made an example of.

Not surprisingly, Rose admits to breaking rules within the walls of the prison after he was convicted of tax evasion.  He seemed to think it benign and even funny that he had his wife smuggle food, hair dye, and other contraband in which he mostly got away with. He also had several run-ins with prison guards.

And, to put the final nail in the coffin, Rose describes John Dowd as someone who was “ambitious” and who used the matter to make a name for himself.  For instance, when he was deposed, Rose said Dowd tried to cause him confusion by using “legal maneuvering” and threats.

So, let’s get all of this straight:

According to Pete Rose, he himself was not actually to blame for betting on baseball, but instead, everything and everyone else is to blame:

  1. He has ADHD. The disorder made him do it;
  2. He grew up on the “rugged” city streets of Cincinnati where everyone gambled, including his father who brought him deep into the culture. His background made him do it;
  3. His bookies and middlemen acted as “Stool Pigeons” with the Feds, ratted him out, and were out to get him. They made him do it;
  4. The investigator John Dowd wanted to create a “one-sided nature of events” to railroad him and “hunt” him and who “smelled blood” for the purposes of his own career.
  5. MLB didn’t want him to have a fair trial, so he had to agree to a permanent ban from the sport. His back was against the wall.
  6. The media exaggerated the facts about Rose and spread rumors which were untrue to “milk it for all it was worth”.
  7. The Commissioner of MLB treated him unfairly because he succumbed to the onslaught of media pressure.

This is the beloved man who people revere and support and think should be forgiven?

This same one who shirks off his responsibilities on everyone else?

Unfortunately for baseball fans, he gave them good memories.

Rose agreed to become permanently ineligible because it stopped the investigations from going any further.  In only 6 months, Dowd was able to dig up enough dirt that even this feisty superstar with fancy lawyers wasn’t able to fend off.

Rose was also able to finagle a stipulation with MLB that no formal finding was submitted that he bet on baseball and could apply for reinstatement in 1 year.  What he didn’t seem to fathom was that he may never be reinstated.

So, what if Rose bet on baseball?  Is it a big deal?

Rose admitted he did it.  But, he thinks the punishment does not fit the crime.

While he understands that he violated the misconduct rule 21, he seems to think that just because he (claims) to have not “thrown” games, he doesn’t need to be punished “forever”.

To me, everything in Rose’s life leads up to him breaking the rules.  He did it constantly in his personal and professional life and wants everyone to try and understand him, thinking that is enough for us to look past it all.

I am not a vengeful person, but I don’t think this guy deserves a break.  He cut classes, cheated in baseball, cheated on his wives, lied under oath about all of his wrong-doings, tried to evade the IRS, went to prison for tax evasion, and even broke the rules while he was in prison.

He seems to think that he’s better than everyone else and can do whatever he wants and still get the big prize.

Rose’s MLB Record.  Is it enough to look past his sins?

This is where the biggest confusion over Pete Rose lies.

If Rose didn’t have a Hall-of-Fame worthy career, we wouldn’t be having this discussion today.

If Rose was just another run of the mill player who bet on baseball, I think he would have just went away quietly long ago.

If Rose wasn’t a feisty person who was “obsessed” with everything and competitive, I wouldn’t be writing this now.

But, Rose wants into the Hall.  His book went into detail about all of his sins to convince the general public and heck, anyone that will listen, that he should be there.

Yes, Rose did amass a tremendous statistical record that could be described as Hall of Fame worthy.  I’ll never dispute that fact.  He played for three teams from 1963-1986 and garnered the following stats:

  • All-time Hits leader (4,256);
  • Most Games Played (3,562);
  • Most At-Bats (14, 053);
  • All-time Singles Leader (3,215);
  • Most Outs (10, 328);
  • 15 out of 24 seasons .300+ BA;
  • 10+ seasons with 200+ hits;
  • 9 consecutive .300+ seasons;
  • 3 World Series Rings;
  • 3 Batting Titles;
  • 1 MVP Award;
  • 2 Gold Gloves;
  • Rookie of Year Award;
  • 17 All Star Appearances (with 5 different positions);
  • Career .303 BA;
  • 160 HRs;
  • 1,314 RBI;
  • Very efficient at the plate: Career 71 BB; 52 SO.

Known as “Charlie Hustle” for his tremendous enthusiasm and work ethic on the field, Rose was also considered a catalyst lead-off hitter and was a member of the 1970s Cincinnati Reds or “The Big Red Machine”, one of the greatest teams ever (including Johnny Bench, Joe Morgan, and Tony Perez).

But is this enough to forgive & forget?

Not in my book.

What if Reinstatement occurs?

If Commissioner Manfred reinstates Rose, he’s going to set a very dangerous precedent.

Namely, if Rose then goes on to induction into the Hall of Fame, it MUST open the door to those players who have been shunned by alleged PED use.

Rose admittedly broke the Rules of MLB Misconduct, but last I looked, PED users did not.

Those who have taken drugs to enhance their performance (or even suspected of it) may have “cheated”, but they did it not just because of their own personal reasons, but to be better ball players, to help their teams win.

That is a far less crime to me than someone who bet on the very ball games they played and managed in for their own sick purposes.

If Rose is forgiven, then all of the suspected PED users should be forgiven too.

Further, if the Hall of Fame criteria includes the continued use of the “character” clause as a basis for induction and Rose gets in (even despite the baseball betting), it would be a great injustice.

Rose admitted in his book to breaking so many rules outside of betting on baseball that his “integrity” alone is damaged and as a result, he should never be allowed to get into the Hall.

The final word.

First, it’s important to understand the nature of Rose’s crime against baseball and understand if it is forgivable or not.

To me, it is not.

Rose broke MLB Rule 21 which provides that a player will be banned for life if he bets on a game in which he is involved:

“Any player, umpire, or club or league official or employee, who shall bet any sum whatsoever upon any baseball game in connection with which the bettor has a duty to perform shall be declared permanently ineligible.”

This Rule is posted in every clubhouse which Rose walked by multiple times per day during the baseball season for 20+ years.

He publicly admitted to doing it and personally agreed to take a plea bargain and become “permanently ineligible” in 1989.

The Rule itself does not specify punishment as to whether or not a player bet against his own team or threw a game.  Any type of betting on any game is considered a crime against baseball.

And, what’s particularly harsh about what Rose did is that he bet on games he managed.  While he says he did not throw a game outright, he may have worked in subtle tweaks to manipulate the outcomes.

Second, what bothers me a great deal about Pete Rose is his attitude.

While Rose may rightfully compare his problem with gambling as an addiction similar to drug or alcohol abuse, he went beyond abuse of gambling  and into the world of baseball “misconduct” full well knowing the consequences.

It wasn’t until many years later that Rose entered his public admission and packaged it in such a way as to try and manipulate the general public that it was somehow justified.

He even started his own website to allow fans to add their names to a petition for his reinstatement. And, he has appeared in commercials recently which seems to mock MLB & the process.  Youtube Link:

To this day, he blames everyone else for his mistakes & really doesn’t think he should continue to be admonished for it – certainly, not enough for him to be banned from the Hall of Fame.

But, I challenge what he says in his book – that his “mistake” was no worse than those men who are already in the Hall who raised a hand to a woman and children or were busted for drinking, smoking, or using drugs.  Rose forgets: there are no former players in there who have ever been caught betting on baseball…

Finally, we should not let Pete Rose’s baseball statistics cloud the heart of the matter.

It is true that his records and enthusiasm for the sport while he was playing were memorable and important to baseball history.

But, ultimately, this issue is not about the player on the field or even the man who took advantage of the privileges he was given in an egregious way.  Or, even the one who said he has been “rehabilitated”.

As former Commissioner Fay Vincent said during a radio show in 2014, Rule 21 has held everyone associated with baseball to a certain conduct since the 1930s and has proven to be very effective.  If we let Rose get out of this one, what message does this send?



Sources :
Baseball Reference - Pete Rose:
Pete Rose - Autobiography:

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