For more than a quarter of a century, Pete Rose has insisted that he never bet on baseball as a player. New evidence, however, indicates that Rose did exactly that, in 1986.
And pretty much no one is surprised.
“You talk to MLB officials of the past and you talk to Fay Vincent, the former commissioner, (and) he says, ‘We all knew about it,’” USA Today MLB columnist Bob Nightengale said on CBS Sports Radio’s Ferrall on the Bench. “And he says (there’s) no surprise whatsoever. He said we had the goods on it. We knew this, but there was no reason to bring it up because he already signed a lifetime ban, so why bring up this stuff as a player when you already got him nailed as a manager?”
Either way, Rose is once again garnering headlines, and once again it’s not good. A long-hidden notebook has been uncovered and suggests that Rose regularly bet on baseball in 1986, including games in which he played. Most bets were around $2,000.
Rose admitted in 2004 – after 15 years of lies – that he bet on baseball as a manager but not as a player.
It appears that was a lie, too.
“He continued to lie about it (and) continued to kind of throw stuff in (MLB’s) face by having autograph sessions at a casino every day, going to Cooperstown and having his own autograph show, and (doing) everything to irritate and infuriate MLB,” Nightengale said. “When he finally admitted (that he bet on baseball), he admitted it in a book to make money. So as Fay Vincent said, first of all, there’s no way he’d ever get in (the Hall of Fame). But if he did, you’d be deathly afraid of what would happen next. What kind of stuff would he say? Or what would come out?”
At this point, it’s safe to say that Rose, 74, is a mess, but Nightengale doesn’t think the Hall is completely off the table.
“Baseball was his life,” Nightengale said. “That was it. I don’t think he cared about anything else. Being in the Hall of Fame would mean the world to him. I wouldn’t be surprised if he gets in the Hall of Fame. I just don’t see him getting in while he’s alive. I think the only chance he gets in (is) when he’s dead. . . . He’s never been on the writers’ ballot. I don’t think the veterans will ever let him in. I think the writers would at some point, but maybe when he’s dead (when) he can’t do anything to embarrass the Hall of Fame or embarrass baseball.”
Nightengale said he would vote for Rose – someday, at least.
“I certainly wouldn’t vote him in first ballot,” Nightengale said. “I might do it later on just out of sympathy. It’s over 25 years. People kill people and get off before that. But my stance for the Hall of Fame is (that) the greatest players (should be in). I vote for Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens every year. I think they deserve to be in because they’re the greatest players. I won’t vote for Alex Rodriguez because he tested positive (twice during the drug-testing era), where before it was the Wild Wild West. Guys did everything, and nobody really cared.”