Pete Rose, still popular with many baseball fans despite a lifetime ban from the game 13 years ago for betting on games, met recently with Commissioner of Baseball Bud Selig about his reinstatement, baseball sources said yesterday.
Rose, who has said since his ban that he did not bet on baseball games, is the game's career hits leader and was an all-star 17 times during a 19-year career. One of 14 major leaguers ever to receive a lifetime ban, he would be the first to be reinstated.
Rose was manager of the Cincinnati Reds when he was banned in August 1989 following a gambling investigation. If reinstated, he would be allowed to take a managing, coaching or front-office job, and would be eligible for election to the Hall of Fame.
Other than appearances at the World Series in 1999 and last season for sponsor-related honors, Rose has been banned from Major League Baseball.
The Associated Press, quoting an unnamed baseball executive, said Rose could be reinstated by the end of the year. The source said Rose would have to publicly acknowledge he bet on games in order to be reinstated.
"It all starts with Pete," former Reds teammate and Hall of Famer Joe Morgan said during the World Series. "He's got to come clean. I'm sure he liked hearing the fans cheering for him. But that ovation isn't going to get him into the Hall of Fame. He's got to make it right. It's up to him."
Cincinnati Mayor Charlie Luken wrote to Selig twice recently urging Rose's reinstatement and a meeting between Rose and Selig. Luken said he spoke to Bob DuPuy, Selig's top aide, on Nov. 27 and DuPuy said he would get back to him in about 30 days.
S. Gary Spicer, Rose's attorney, did not respond to a message left with an aide at his Grosse Pointe, Mich., office.
A Cincinnati television station and ESPN.com first reported that Rose and Mike Schmidt, a former teammate with the Philadelphia Phillies, met last month with Selig in his Milwaukee offices. The report could not be confirmed.
"Pete Rose applied for reinstatement to Commissioner Selig several years ago," DuPuy said in a statement. "The application has been pending since that time. Given the pendency of that application, neither the Commissioner nor anyone else in our office will comment on the Pete Rose matter."
Schmidt could not be reached to comment yesterday.
Rose applied for reinstatement in September 1997, but Selig has refused to lift the ban, saying that he hasn't found evidence to do so.
Former commissioner Fay Vincent said yesterday he doubted that Selig would lift the ban without Rose publicly acknowledging that he wagered on baseball games. He also said he doubted Rose would ever acknowledge he bet on games.
According to ESPN.com, there have been an exchange of proposals between representatives of Selig and Rose. WXIX-TV in Cincinnati reported Monday that Rose and Schmidt met with Selig to discuss a deal. The report said that Rose would have to undergo a 12-month probation before further action could be taken.
Rose's appearances for sponsor-promoted honors at the World Series have generated positive responses from fans, including a loud ovation before Game 2 of the 1999 World Series in Atlanta, when the All-Century Team was introduced.
Fans in San Francisco delivered another thunderous ovation for Rose before Game 4 of this year's Series, when MLB named its all-time greatest moments, including Rose's hit that broke Ty Cobb's record.