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Pete Rose Bet On Baseball Games As A Player, ESPN Reports

Former Cincinnati Reds' player and manager Pete Rose watches a baseball game between the Reds and Washington Nationals on May 31 in Cincinnati.
John Minchillo
Former Cincinnati Reds' player and manager Pete Rose watches a baseball game between the Reds and Washington Nationals on May 31 in Cincinnati.

Pete Rose, baseball's all-time hits leader, bet on Cincinnati Reds games in 1986, during his last season as an active player, ESPN's Outside the Lines reports.

After years of denial, Rose admitted in his 2004 autobiography that he bet on games, but only while he was manager. And as recently as April, he told a radio show he "never bet as a player: That's a fact." But ESPN has obtained documents that show the betting began as Rose "racked up the last hits of a record-smashing career in 1986." Here's more:

"The documents are copies of pages from a notebook seized from the home of former Rose associate Michael Bertolini during a raid by the U.S. Postal Inspection Service in October 1989, nearly two months after Rose was declared permanently ineligible by Major League Baseball. Their authenticity has been verified by two people who took part in the raid, which was part of a mail fraud investigation and unrelated to gambling. For 26 years, the notebook has remained under court-ordered seal and is currently stored in the National Archives' New York office, where officials have declined requests to release it publicly."

Rose was banned for life from baseball in 1989 for gambling. He first applied for reinstatement in 1997, and applied again this year upon the retirement of Bud Selig as baseball commissioner. As ESPN says, the timing of the latest revelation "isn't great.

"In March of this year, he applied to [Commissioner Rob] Manfred for reinstatement. Dowd recently met with MLB CIO and executive vice president of administration John McHale Jr., who is leading Manfred's review of Rose's reinstatement request, to walk McHale through his investigation. On Monday morning, MLB officials declined to comment about the notebook."

In a statement to ESPN through his lawyer Rose said: "Since we submitted the application earlier this year, we committed to MLB that we would not comment on specific matters relating to reinstatement. I need to maintain that. To be sure, I'm eager to sit down with [MLB commissioner Rob] Manfred to address my entire history — the good and the bad — and my long personal journey since baseball. That meeting likely will come sometime after the All-Star break. Therefore at this point, it's not appropriate to comment on any specifics."

Rose's permanent suspension from baseball makes him ineligible for the Hall of Fame despite his status as the game's career hits leader.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Krishnadev Calamur is NPR's deputy Washington editor. In this role, he helps oversee planning of the Washington desk's news coverage. He also edits NPR's Supreme Court coverage. Previously, Calamur was an editor and staff writer at The Atlantic. This is his second stint at NPR, having previously worked on NPR's website from 2008-15. Calamur received an M.A. in journalism from the University of Missouri.