Pete Rose admitted over a decade ago that he had bet on baseball while the manager of the Cincinnati Reds, and that alone was more than enough for Major League Baseball to justify keeping Rose permanently ineligible to participate in baseball activities.
But Rose has always maintained, up through this year, that he never made such bets when he was a player.
Now it appears as though even Rose’s partial defense may have been a lie.
On Monday, ESPN’s Outside the Lines published pages they obtained from a notebook that was collected as part of a raid on the home of Michael Bertolioni, a former associate of Rose’s, by the US Postal Inspection Service in October 1989.
Notebook Shows Bets from 1986
In the notebook, there are details of bets by Rose that took place in 1986, the final year of his playing career when he served as a player-manager for the team. The pages revealed by Outside the Lines cover betting activity that covers March through July 1986.
Critically, the notebook does not show any evidence (or suggestion) that Rose ever bet against the Reds at any time. While not everything in the material is legible, the book does show that Rose bet on baseball on at least 30 days during that period.
On 21 of those days, there were bets by Rose on the Reds, including on at least some games that Rose played in himself. Rose also bet heavily on other sports, particularly on basketball.
Most of Rose’s bets were for $2,000, regardless of the sports he was betting on. His single largest bet was a $5,500 wager on the Boston Celtics, one that he lost.
Dowd Finds Closure from Documents
For John Dowd, the former federal prosecutor who headed up the Major League Baseball investigation into Rose’s betting and lent his name to the infamous Dowd Report that led to Rose’s ban from baseball, the new information served as a vindication of the work he did back in 1989.
“This does it,” Dowd said. “This closes the door.”
The information in Bertolini’s notebook was unknown until now because it comes from an investigation into mail fraud and had absolutely nothing to do with Rose or gambling in general.
Since then, the notebook has been under a court-ordered seal in the New York office of the National Archives, and officials have declined to release it publically.
Outside the Lines had Dowd review the newly unveiled documents as a part of their story.
“We knew that [Bertolini] recorded the bets, and that he bet himself, but we never had his records,” Dowd said. “This is the final piece of the puzzle on a New York betting operation with organized crime. And, of course, [Rose] betting while he was a player.”
New Info May Scuttle Reinstatement
The reveal is likely to be a major setback to Rose, who recently applied for reinstatement with new commissioner Rob Manfred.
However, Rose’s lawyer issued a statement saying that they would not comment on the new developments.
“Since we submitted the application earlier this year, we committed to MLB that we would not comment on specific matters relating to reinstatement,” the statement read. “I need to maintain that. To be sure, I’m eager to sit down with Manfred to address my entire history—the good and the bad—and my long personal journey since baseball.”
Pete Rose played in the major leagues, primarily with the Reds, from 1963 to 1986, during which time he collected an all-time record of 4,256 hits.
But in 1991, the Baseball Hall of Fame voted to exclude anyone on the ineligible list from being considered for inclusion, which has kept Rose from being honored as one of baseball’s all-time greats.