Pete Rose tells about gambling and PED users

MICHAEL BRYANT / STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER Pete Rose tells baseball stories at Christ's Church of the Valley as part of the church's program on second chances.
MICHAEL BRYANT / STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER Pete Rose tells baseball stories at Christ's Church of the Valley as part of the church's program on second chances.
Posted: April 01, 2014

ALL PETE ROSE wants is a second chance.

Twenty-five years ago, Rose was banned from the game he knew and loved. For 15 years, the game's all-time hits leader denied the allegations that he bet on baseball, but in 2004, Rose came clean.

Yesterday, Rose made an appearance at Christ's Church of the Valley in Royersford to be interviewed in front of three of the largest crowds the church had ever experienced. Speaking with Senior Pastor Brian Jones at the 9, 10:15 and 11:30 a.m. services, Rose used the time to tell the audience of past experiences in the game, the mistake he made as a manager and his hope for a chance to be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame.

"A lot of people remember me for getting divorced, remember me for going to prison, remember me for getting kicked out of baseball, and you know, I am just looking for a second chance," Rose said. "Other people get second chances: alcoholics, drug addicts, spousal beaters. Not gamblers."

Throughout his 24-year career in major league baseball, Rose had one of the most decorated careers in history, winning the Rookie of the Year Award in 1963, a Most Valuable Player Award in 1973, 4,256 hits and was a part of three World Series championship teams, including a title with the Phillies in 1980.

"In the mid-'70s, the Phillies could never get to the World Series. Why could they never get to the World Series? Because they could never beat the Reds," Rose said with a laugh. "So I said let's solve this and I went to Philly and it worked. Mike Schmidt was the best player I had ever played with and I played with a lot of good players and I played against a lot of good players."

In 1984, Rose went back to his native Cincinnati to take on a new challenge as a player/manager for the Reds, the team he spent 16 years with before arriving in Philadelphia in 1979. Rose finished a very close second to Whitey Herzog for NL Manager of the Year honors in 1985 while adding a .264 batting average in 119 games for the Reds.

Rose has admitted that he bet on his own team as a manager, a violation of MLB's rules. On Aug. 24, 1989, while still managing the Reds, Rose accepted a lifetime ban from baseball, which has not only kept him out of the Hall of Fame but has also tarnished his reputation.

"I've never worried about that because I'm the one that made the mistake, so I can't get mad at Bud Selig; I can't get mad at Bart Giamatti," Rose said. "That was the worst thing that ever happened to me. Bart Giamatti suspended me and 4 days later he died.

"If [Giamatti] had continued to be the commissioner, I believe he would have given me a second chance after a year. He was a very fair man. I can't put a finger on why Bud Selig won't even contemplate giving me a second chance and people say it's because you work in Las Vegas. Well, everybody works somewhere. If they don't want me to work in Las Vegas, just reinstate me and I will be in baseball somewhere and I won't need to work in Las Vegas. I don't work in a casino, I work in the shopping malls and I work 20 days a month."

Rose, 72, continued to tell his story to the audience while multiple highlight videos of his playing career appeared on the two screens inside the church. After many years of silence, the man once known as "Charlie Hustle" was very open about his gambling in the late '80s.

"It wasn't that I was calling somebody everyday and betting on the games," Rose said. "I told the guy before the season that I want to bet on my team every night a certain amount. No one in the clubhouse ever knew I was betting; no coaches, no players, no clubhouse guys, and I was wrong.

"I was wrong. However, I wasn't betting when I was a player. It's when I became a manager because I had so much love and respect for my players because they were like my sons. I wanted to bet on them because I needed something extra because I wasn't getting the at-bats or playing in the field, and I was wrong."

During each of the three services, Rose also shared his opinion on those in baseball who have earned a second chance for conduct that he considered equally as bad as a gambling offense.

This spring, former Giants outfielder Barry Bonds worked with San Francisco in Arizona as a special hitting coach and former first baseman Mark McGwire is in his second season as a hitting coach for the Dodgers after spending three seasons as St. Louis' hitting coach. While Bonds has vehemently denied using PEDs, McGwire has come clean.

In addition to the former players that baseball has already forgiven, Rose also discussed his opinion on current PED offenders still in the game.

"How in the hell do you accidentally take PEDs? Someone tell me how you accidentally take a steroid. What did you put it inside your Rice Krispies or something?" Rose asked the crowd. "As long as the rewards outweigh the risk, you are going to have drug problems in baseball.

"If I was to tell any one of you in the audience I'll give you $100 million next year but I'm going to suspend you and it's going to cost you $3 million, would you take that deal? You're darn right you would and that's the problem with baseball - everybody that gets caught with drugs in baseball gets multimillion-dollar raises each year or there's another team that will take them on."

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