CINCINNATI, JULY 19 -- When the late baseball commissioner, A. Bartlett Giamatti, announced last August that Pete Rose had been banned from the game for life, he called it "the sad end of a sorry episode."
The epilogue came today.
Having pleaded guilty in April to two felony counts of filing false income tax returns, Rose was handed a sentence by U.S. District Judge S. Arthur Spiegel that will affect his freedom for 17 months.
Five months will be spent in a federal prison, three in a halfway house and the rest completing 1,000 hours of community service in five Cincinnati elementary schools and one boys club. In addition, he must pay a $50,000 fine and $100 in special assessments, all the result of not reporting $355,000 in income, costing the government nearly $163,000.
This is what can happen when someone -- even someone like Pete Rose -- neglects one of the two basic truths in this nation: death and taxes.
"I think it will be a humbling experience for him," said Alan Statman, the attorney for Ron Peters, a former bookmaker who said he took baseball bets from Rose and now is serving a two-year prison term for filing a false income tax return and cocaine distribution. "Pete will be wearing the same clothes as everybody else, eating the same food as everybody else and pulling weeds for five cents an hour like everybody else. From that standpoint, it will be a real dose of humility. But he needed to be brought back to reality."
Peters himself was the subject of a story in today's Dayton (Ohio) Daily News. In it, he was quoted as saying: "I hope he leaves his cocky, arrogant attitude at home. It won't serve him well in prison. But I'm sure he'll be treated the same as on the streets -- some inmates won't like him and some will idolize him."
Peters also was quoted as saying: "So he was a gambler and he cheated on his taxes, but that doesn't make him a bad person. That hurt his character. If he would have admitted it and apologized and went on with his life, he'd probably be a whole lot better off now."
That is possible, but it does not prevent others involved with Rose's demise from feeling sympathy for him, or feeling bad themselves.
William A. Hunt, the assistant U.S. attorney who prosecuted the case against Rose, stood in a hallway outside Spiegel's court room and talked about his youth in Cincinnati.
"I think I grew up in Crosley Field," he said of the stadium where Rose and the Reds played before moving to Riverfront Stadium.
So, did that make dealing with this case difficult?
"I try as best I can to disassociate my personal experiences with my job. I think any good attorney tries to do that."
Baseball Commissioner Fay Vincent, who as deputy commissioner oversaw baseball's investigation of Rose, declined to comment on the sentence. But in a telephone interview on Tuesday, he said: "I feel sorry for Pete. I wish him well. . . . I think anybody up for sentencing before a judge in a criminal matter deserves sympathy."
John Dowd, the Washington attorney who led baseball's investigation of Rose, was traveling today and could not be reached for comment. But on Tuesday he also expressed sympathy for Rose.
"I feel the same way I did -- it's a tragedy," Dowd said. "To me, it's a very sad and difficult time for Pete. I get no satisfaction or joy out of it."
Today many people who live here talked about him the way they talk about any relative who is getting punished. They know he's done wrong. They know he deserves to be punished. They feel he's made the family look bad. But . . .
"It's kind of a drag," said Robb Thomas of Cincinnati. "I think it's a sad day, that's all. If it had been anyone else, they would have gotten time too. But I mean look at what he's gone through, the humiliation. He disgraced himself, his family, the city and the Reds. Isn't that enough? I don't know. Pete's still a hero. I still love him."
Vicki Bradshaw, of Fort Thomas, Ky., had a question about the community service part of Rose's sentence.
"Why put him where he can influence children?" she asked. "I think there are better examples."
Norm Charlton, a Reds pitcher, felt differently. "He's going to prison," Charlton said after tonight's 5-2 loss to the Phillies. "I don't know how that's going to do any good. My dad is a director of a children's home in Texas with 85 boys and 25 girls. They don't get a lot of opportunities to be in contact with someone like that. Two months down there would be a lot better for those kids than him spending five months in jail."
But Shawn Willis, a 19-year-old from New Richmond, Ohio, took a wider view.
"When I was younger, I thought Pete was awesome," he said. "Now . . . no one's above the law. I still think he was an excellent player. But as a human being, he's gone down a notch."
Jan. 25 -- A Pik-Six at Turfway Park in Florence, Ky., has two winning tickets worth $132,834.60 each. Arnold Metz signs for the tickets but rumors surface that Rose was one of the winners.
Feb. 20 -- Rose and lawyers Reuven J. Katz and Robert A. Pitcairn Jr. meet in New York with Commissioner Peter V. Ueberroth, National League President A. Bartlett Giamatti, Executive Vice President Edwin M. Durso and incoming Deputy Commissioner Francis T. Vincent Jr.
March 20 -- Commissioner's office releases statement that it is investigating "serious allegations against Rose" and that Washington lawyer John M. Dowd is heading the inquiry.
March 21 -- A story in Sports Illustrated contains allegations tying Rose to baseball betting. Chris Beyersdoerfer, Thomas Gioiosa, Paul Janszen and Michael Fry are named as either taking bets from Rose or having knowledge of them.
March 25 -- Turfway Park releases statement that Rose and track chairman Jerry Carroll were actual owners of winning Pik-Six tickets for Jan. 25.
April 1 -- The Dayton (Ohio) Daily News reports IRS investigators seized betting slips from Ronald Peters last Aug. 17.
April 8 -- The Cincinnati Post reports Rose is under investigation by the IRS.
April 21 -- Rose meets with Dowd in Dayton. Robert C. Brichler, an assistant U.S. attorney, says Rose is being investigated by a grand jury on tax matters.
May 9 -- Giamatti receives 225-page report from Dowd.
Aug. 7 -- Giamatti sets Aug. 17 hearing date for Rose.
Aug. 24 -- Giamatti announces that Pete Rose is banned for life from baseball for gambling. He may apply for reinstatement after one year.
April 20 -- In U.S. District Court in Cincinnati, Rose pleads guilty to two counts of filing false incomes taxes by failing to report income.