Pete Rose long ago admitted that he bet on baseball but insisted he did so only as a manager. But according to evidence uncovered by ESPN’s “Outside the Lines,” Rose bet extensively on baseball during the final year of his playing career in 1986.
Major League Baseball banned Rose from the sport in 1989 after a report by former federal prosecutor John Dowd found that Rose had bet on Reds games through mob-connected bookmakers from 1984 to 1986. Dowd based his findings on sworn testimony from a bookie and testimony and a recorded phone conversation between Michael Bertolini and Paul Janszen, both associates of Rose’s, that established Bertolini had placed bets for Rose.
However, Dowd never had any written evidence that Rose bet on baseball while still playing, which is what ESPN investigative reporters William Weinbaum and T.J. Quinn have uncovered:
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, who also served as Reds manager from 1984 to 1989, applied for reinstatement to the game in March and has been hired to provide commentary for Fox Sports. In April, first-year commissioner Rob Manfred said Rose could participate in this year’s All-Star Game festivities in Cincinnati.
MLB officials declined to comment to ESPN, but Dowd has spoken to John McHale Jr., the MLB executive who is handling the review of Rose’s reinstatement request, about the newly found evidence.
In Dowd’s mind, this new report answers once and for all the question of whether Rose should be allowed back.
“This does it. This closes the door,” Dowd told ESPN.
The documents obtained by ESPN track bets Rose supposedly made from March through July in 1986 and reveal the following (as detailed in ESPN’s story):
• In the time covered in the notebook, from March through July, Rose bet on at least one MLB team on 30 different days. It’s impossible to count the exact number of times he bet on baseball games because not every day’s entries are legible.
• But on 21 of the days it’s clear he bet on baseball, he gambled on the Reds, including on games in which he played.
• Most bets, regardless of sport, were about $2,000. The largest single bet was $5,500 on the Boston Celtics, a bet he lost.
• Rose bet heavily on college and professional basketball, losing $15,400 on one day in March. That came during his worst week of the four-month span, when he lost $25,500.
MLB rules prohibit gambling on baseball games “with which the bettor has a duty to perform,” with permanent ineligibility the punishment.