Pete Rose: Baseball Legend or Infamous Bad Guy?

Baseball-Pete-Rose-MLBEven though Pete Rose (A.K.A. the Hit King, Charlie Hustle) was one of the best baseball players of his time, his scandals overshadow his baseball skill while playing and coaching in the MLB. He has set a staggering amount of records which include “Most Career Hits”, “Most Games Played”, “Most AB’s”, “Most Singles”, “Most Winning Games”, “Most Times On Base”, and more. He has been the recipient of many awards like the “Gold Glove”, “MVP”, and countless others.

When will his critics forget about the scandals and forgive him? That day may never come for some but things are looking up for him. Pete Rose will officially be inducted in the Cincinnati Reds Hall Of Fame on the weekend of June 24-26 2016. For Rose fans this is a long-awaited victory. For over 25 years Rose has been waiting to get the ban lifted from MLB. Some think that he has “done the time” and others hold on to the past with all their might.

What is all the fuss about? Rose was accused of and charged for betting on baseball, and in particular, on games of the Cincinnati Reds Baseball Club, during the 1985, 1986 and 1987 seasons. Why does it matter you may ask? When players bet on their own sport the integrity of that sport becomes jeopardized. The betting player may feel compelled to cheat and throw the game even if it costs their team a win.

Let’s look back at the scandal and investigation. In February 1989, Rose was questioned by Commissioner Peter Ueberroth and replacement Bart Giamatti. John M. Dowd, an American lawyer, was hired to investigate and report his findings. Dowd took a few months and on May 9th 1989 completed the “Dowd Report” that was the catalyst for Rose’s lifelong ban from baseball. On June 26th 1989 the Dowd Report was released to the media despite the words of Giamatti. The report claims that in 1985, 1986, and 1987 Rose bet on baseball games. In 1987 Rose was said to have betted on over 52 Cincinnati Reds games at $10,000 or more per game. In the report all of these bets were in favor of the Reds. Some say that shows Rose would never throw a game and he bet on the Reds because he believed in them. On August 24th 1989 Rose is officially banned from baseball and in the coming days is replaced by Tommy Helms as the new Reds manager.

In coming months it only gets worse for Rose. On April 20th 1990, Rose was sentenced to ten months for tax evasion, ordered to pay a $50,000 fine, serve 1,000 hours of community service, and get help for his gambling addiction.

Years went by and Rose was allowed to make an appearance here and there. He was never reinstated in the MLB organization partly due to claims he had no remorse, hadn’t stopped gambling, and never apologized.

In December 2002, John Dowd tells the media that in fact he did have evidence that showed Rose bet against the Reds but was forced to complete the report as fast as possible. Dowd also went on to say he was very concerned that Rose was involved in cocaine distribution. Cocaine distribution?

On June 20th 2011 Tommy Gioiosa, friend and assistant of Rose, spoke out against Rose with Vanity Fair. After meeting Gioiosa, Rose invites the fan to come live with him and his wife. Gioiosa eventually said he was going back home and Rose asked him to stay. Gioiosa told Rose he didn’t have any clothes or money. Rose said he didn’t need anything and gives him his own clothes. In the years to come they were inseparable. That is until Rose started taking heat. Rose started trying to separate himself from everyone that may be linked to his prohibited and illegal behavior. Gioiosa tells Vanity Fair his story of how he met Rose, became friends with him, and followed him down a crazy path that would eventually cost him his freedom. Gioiosa describes a life of bizarre events, gambling, tax evasion, and cocaine distribution.

In recent years, Rose apologized on radio saying “I made mistakes. I can’t whine about it. I’m the one that messed up and I’m paying the consequences. However, if I am given a second chance, I won’t need a third chance. And to be honest with you, I picked the wrong vice. I should have picked alcohol. I should have picked drugs or I should have picked up beating up my wife or girlfriend because if you do those three, you get a second chance. They haven’t given too many gamblers a second chance in the world of baseball.”

Pete Rose is one of the best baseball players to have ever played in the MLB. Infamous bad guy? Some may say that, though, it often is counterproductive to focus on the speculations. What we know for sure is that Pete Rose was an amazing baseball player and coach that had a gambling problem.