Even as he fills his present as a baseball analyst at Fox Sports 1 and prepares to be part of the official activities at the All-Star Game in Cincinnati on July 14, Pete Rose cannot escape his past.
He is baseball’s career hits leader but has been on baseball’s permanently ineligible list since 1989 because he bet on baseball - and the Cincinnati Reds - when he was their manager.
But his pending bid for reinstatement by Commissioner Rob Manfred, who is expected to meet with Rose this season, could be complicated by a new ESPN report that he also bet on baseball while he was still playing in 1986. He played part time that season - he was also the Reds’ manager - and recorded the last 52 hits of his career.
On Monday, ESPN reported that it had obtained copies of pages from a spiral notebook kept by Michael Bertolini, a former Rose associate who recorded bets that Rose made from March to July 1986. In that period, the notebook showed that Rose bet on at least one Major League Baseball team on 30 days. He wagered on the Reds and there was no proof that he bet against them.
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ESPN’s report, unveiled on its “Outside the Lines” program, contradicts Rose’s stance, which he reiterated as recently as April, that he did not bet on baseball while he played.
He also denied for 15 years that he gambled on baseball as a manager but admitted in 2004 in a book and a television interview that he had.
John Dowd, the lawyer who investigated Rose for baseball, told ESPN that the notebook “closes the door” on any possible reinstatement because it backs other proof he had that Rose bet as a player, including the testimony of a bookie, Ron Peters.
“We had all the other pieces,” Dowd said in a telephone interview Monday. “We didn’t have the Bertolini betting book. This establishes beyond any question that Rose bet on the Reds in 1986 when he was a player. And it absolutely establishes that he was betting with the mob in New York, which was always my biggest concern, that they had a mortgage on the guy.”
The betting book was seized from Bertolini’s home by the U.S. Postal Inspection Service in 1989, as part of a mail fraud investigation, ESPN said. It has since been sealed by a court order.
Dowd said: “I can’t imagine that he’s reinstated. He’s done nothing to make himself a credit to the game. He’s done nothing to reconfigure his life or help the game.”
Kostya Kennedy, the author of “Pete Rose: An American Dilemma,” said he was not surprised to hear about the betting book “because it’s been pretty well known by anyone who followed the case closely that Pete bet as a player.” He said that a year ago, Rose told him that he had not bet as a player, and added: “He has been caught in a big fat lie.”
Major League Baseball had no comment on the ESPN report. Rose, in a statement issued to ESPN by his lawyer, said he would not discuss matters related to reinstatement.
Over the years, baseball has permitted Rose into major league stadiums for official events. Before receiving the go-ahead to appear at the All-Star Game in Cincinnati, Rose had been allowed to be on the field at Great American Ballpark in Cincinnati five years ago for a commemoration of his record-breaking 4,192nd hit and was at the stadium again in 2013 for the unveiling of a statue of Joe Morgan, his former Reds teammate.
He was also part of Major League Baseball’s celebration of its All-Century Team at Atlanta’s Turner Field during the 1999 World Series.
Dowd believes that no commissioner should let Rose appear at any official events.
“I don’t think you can marginalize the rule,” Dowd said, referring to Major League Rule 21, which prohibits betting by players.