MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred Maintains Pete Rose’s Ban for Gambling on Baseball
Rob Manfred, who has been the Major League Baseball commissioner for 11 months, denied Pete Rose’s request to be reinstated to the major leagues. Manfred upholded a lifetime ban which was imposed on Pete Rose imposed by A. Bart Giamatti over 26 years ago. Rob Manfred is the third successive commissioner of baseball who denied reinstatement requests by Rose.
At a press conference, Commissioner Manfred said the key piece of evidence for denying reinstatement was a notebook kept by Michael Bertolini of Rose’s gambling habits in the 1980s. Michael Bertolini claims to have ran bets for Pete Rose to bookies and kept the notebook as a form of informal accounting. In the original wave of probes, federal investigators took the notebook from Bertolini’s possession.
The Bertolini Notebook
Rob Manfred told reporters that “records of bets placed by Michael Bertolini on his own behalf and on behalf of Pete Rose, including bets placed on Cincinnati Reds games by Mr. Rose during the 1986 championship season when he was the player-manager for the Cincinnati Reds.”
Playing into Manfred’s decision to maintain a ban was Pete Rose’s recent activities. The commissioner said that Pete Rose has stated in interviews information which directly contradicts the Bertolini Notebook, thus throwing into question Rose’s regret for (admittedly) betting on baseball while still in the game. Pete Rose has stated he bet on Major League baseball games, but never on Cincinnati Reds games.
Refusal to Admit Violations
One key element against Pete Rose was his unwillingness to provide a full and convincing “mea culpa”. Supporters of the banned player would say Rose does not give an admission of guilt, because he never gambled on Reds games. Those who believe a ban should remain in effect say federal and private investigators established proof that Pete Rose is lying — thus, he should not be reinstated until he admits the full extent of his wrongdoing.
Also, Manfred said Pete Rose told him 3 months ago that he (Rose) continues to wager on horses and sports. His legal and recreational gambling is said to include baseball. If Pete Rose were reinstated, he would be eligible for jobs in MLB front offices, and Manfred does not want to take the chance that Rose would not bet on games again.
Pete Rose’s Career
Pete Rose had a career which any follower of Major League Baseball would consider worthy of the Hall of Fame. He was MLB’s all-time hits leader and one of only 2 players in the game’s history with over 4,000 hits. Pete Rose was the emotional leaders of the Big Red Machine-era Cincinnati Reds, leading the team to World Series victories in 1975 and 1976. He led Reds’ rival, the Philadelphia Phillies, to a World Series win in 1980.
By the time he retired from playing, Pete Rose was the Cincinnati Reds. When the Reds dropped him from the 40-man roster in 1986, Pete Rose continued as the club’s manager. In the middle of the 1988-89 offseason, charges surfaced that Pete Rose had gambled on baseball. Baseball’s commissioner Peter Uberroth initially dismissed the charges, as he was an outgoing commissioner. A. Barlett Giamatti, the new commissioner, chose John W. Dowd to probe whether Pete Rose had gambled on baseball games — and in particular whether he gambled on Cincinnati Reds games.
The Dowd Report
In a four-month investigation, John Dowd conducted interviews with Pete Rose’s associates, including bookmakers and bet runners. The Dowd Report was published in May 1989. It documented Rose’s gambling habits in 1985 and 1986, in which he gambled on MLB games, but not Reds games. In 1987, the Dowd Report alleged that Pete Rose gambled on 52 Reds games (while he was manager). He is said to have gambled $10,000 a day. With such a habit, he would not only have put himself at eventual financial risk, but he would have vulnerable to blackmail attempts by bookies to throw games. This is considered an unforgivable sin in pro baseball, an offense which had cost several players their careers over the years (for instance, Shoeless Joe Jackson).
Pete Rose denied the allegations in the Dowd Report. He refused to appear for questioning at the hands of Barlett Giamatti, and filed a lawsuit to avoid such a hearing. An Hamilton Count (Ohio) court provided him with a temporary restraining order, which was fought by the MLB Commissioner. Giammati successfully had the case removed to a federal court, at which point Pete Rose was forced to cooperate with the league. He and Giammati began negotiations on a settlement.
Giamatti’s Lifetime Ban of Pete Rose
On August 24, 1989, Pete Rose agreed to be placed permanently on baseball’s ineligible list. He later claimed Giamatti had promised to remove him from the list in a year, but Giamatti was dead by that time — he died 8 days after the settlement. Giamatti said at the press conference announcing the ban there was no such deal, while new Commissioner Fay Vincent, who had served as Giamatti’s assistant, also claimed no such deal was in place. Fay Vincent refused to reinstate Pete Rose. Many believe that refusal was based on honoring his deceased friend’s wishes, because many believed the stress from the Pete Rose case led to A. Bartlett Giamatti’s untimely death.
Over the years, Pete Rose has asked for reinstatement, both to be able to work in Major League Baseball and to gain entrance into the Hall of Fame. Baseball players are eligible for the Hall of Fame five years after they retire from active play. Rose has stayed in the public eye, often giving interviews where he throws doubt on MLB’s case among the public. He also is a studio broadcaster, which keeps him in the spotlight for MLB fans.
Why the Pete Rose Controversy Still Fascinates People
More than a half-century after the ban was put in place, the Pete Rose betting scandal remains a fascinating topic on sports broadcasts and among MLB fans. The fascination is fueled by a longstanding feud between baseball’s leaders and Pete Rose. Fans on one side view the punishment of Pete Rose as a vendetta by a series of commissioners and sports writers, determined to hound Pete Rose for his refusal to comply with their story. Observers on the other side believe Pete Rose has a pathological aversion to admitting guilt and see no reason to reward his bad behavior. Whichever side one takes, the public’s fascination with the case seems to stem from the deeply human psychology at the heart of the scandal.
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