Pete Rose is launching an Internet petition and may sue baseball to end his lifetime ban.
"You can't keep a guy from making a living," he said Monday in an interview with The Associated Press. "It's not the American way."
Following an investigation of his gambling, baseball's career hits leader agreed in August 1989 to a lifetime ban from the sport. He applied for reinstatement in September 1997 and while commissioner Bud Selig has said several times that he has seen no evidence that would make him change the ban, he hasn't formally responded to Rose.
"If you find in your heart you didn't want to give me reinstatement, just write back and say, `No,' " Rose said. "I know he has stationery. I know the mail is delivered in Milwaukee."
Rose claimed baseball's lawyers "blackmailed" witnesses against him during its investigation 10 years ago. When pressed for details, he referred comment to his lawyer, Roger Makley, who declined comment when contacted at his Ohio office. Those who led the investigation at the time, Fay Vincent and John Dowd, denied Rose's accusation.
Rose was in New York for Tuesday's launch of sportcut.com., which through Jan. 15 will contain a fan petition calling for Rose's admission to the Hall of Fame. As long as he's banned from baseball for life, Rose is ineligible for the Hall.
"One thing you have to understand is we're not looking for a fight," Rose said. "If that has to be an option, that will be an option. That's a last resort. I don't need it. The game doesn't need it."
While baseball's rules allowed Rose to apply to reinstatement after one year, he's waited eight. He didn't want to apply while Vincent was commissioner Vincent headed the Rose investigation as deputy to commissioner A. Bartlett Giamatti and hired Dowd, who compiled the report on Rose's gambling.
"Fay Vincent wasn't going to give me a chance," Rose said. "I have no respect for John Dowd. He didn't do an impartial investigation. We're sick and tired of him going on the air and talking about all this evidence he has."
Rose also is angry Dowd put his report on the Internet.
"How much is he making on the Dowd report?" Rose said. "If I died tomorrow, we wouldn't hear about John Dowd again until the day he died."
Dowd said Rose is wrong.
"We did it to educate the public, and we did it solely at the firm's expense," he said. "We never charged anyone a dime."
The document Rose signed says, "Nothing in this agreement shall be deemed either an admission or a denial by Peter Edward Rose of the allegation that he bet on any major league baseball game" but it also says, "Peter Edward Rose acknowledges that the commissioner has a factual basis to impose the penalty provided herein, and hereby accepts the penalty imposed on him by the commissioner and agrees not to challenge tha penalty in court or otherwise."
Giamatti said he personally had concluded that Rose bet on the Cincinnati Reds, the team he was managing, to win. Rose repeatedly has denied betting on baseball.
Rose said baseball originally proposed he wait 22 years to apply to reinstatement, then cut it to 11 and then to one the period specified in the Major League Rules.
"At some point, there was talk of a specific time period, but it wasn't 22 years," according to Vincent.
Rose's election to baseball's All-Century team and his confrontational interview with NBC's Jim Gray following the on-field ceremony at Turner Field have brought renewed attention to his quest for reinstatement.
Rose said the broadcaster convinced him to do the interview by saying he had "inside information" that would "help your case." Gray repeatedly pressed for Rose to admit he bet on baseball.
"Here was a guy that was looking for a feather in his cap," Rose said. "The timing was not right. I'm not saying the questioning, it was the timing."
Rose said Gray's NBC on-field partner, Craig Sager, apologized to Rose afterward.
Gray did not respond to a message left with NBC. Sager denied Rose's account, saying he has not spoken with Rose about Gray's interview.
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