Pete Rose, angered that commissioner Bud Selig hasn't ruled on his request for reinstatement, is thinking about suing baseball if he's turned down.
Rose, who agreed in August 1989 to accept a lifetime ban, applied for reinstatement on Sept. 26, 1997. Baseball's career hits leader is ineligible for the Hall of Fame as long as the ban is in force.
"They made a big thing out of the fact that I went to one of the Reds' minor-league games and talked to the players in the clubhouse -- and the Reds asked me to do that," Rose said in the January issue of Sport Magazine. "It took baseball 20 minutes to put out a statement about that, that I may have violated the agreement and they were threatening to fine the Reds a quarter-million dollars, which they never did."
"Yet now I applied for reinstatement under the agreement over a year ago and I don't hear from them. I don't want to have to go to court against them again, and I won't do anything until I'm told one way or another, then we'll see. All I'm telling you is, whoever is going to say no, they're going to have to give me and you and everybody else a good reason."
Then-commissioner A. Bartlett Giammati pushed for the lifetime ban after he concluded Rose bet on games involving the Cincinnati Reds while he was the team's manager.
Rose said he was angry that he was penalized and Albert Belle wasn't. Belle was involved with gambling, but there were no accusations he bet on baseball.
"Albert Belle is supposed to have written $7,000 in checks to bookmakers during the season," Rose said, "and nobody did anything because he turned the bookmakers in? How does baseball turn its back on that? And the other thing is, if I'd been strung out on drugs as opposed to gambling on Monday Night Football, I'd probably still be managing the Reds and they'd pay for my rehab."
Rose, a 17-time Al-Star and the National League's MVP in 1973, said he should be allowed to work for a team again.
| Pete Rose says he's a teacher who can improve students of the game. (AP) |
"I'm a teacher. I can make baseball a better sport," he said. "And they need me. I'm amazed at how baseball is being played now. Guys get to the big leagues too fast and there are no fundamentals."
Rose also claimed he was told to say he had a gambling "sickness."
"That was the worst thing I ever did," Rose said. "My lawyers told me to say that because the judge in the court case might be watching and he would take that into consideration. And now I'm the only guy in the world who if I go to the Kentucky Derby or the Belmont or if I even drive by a casino, I'm doing a bad thing."
Rose pleaded guilty in April 1990 to two counts of filing false income taxes by failing to report $354,968 in income from autograph appearances, memorabilia sales and gambling. He repaid the IRS $366,041 in back taxes, interest and penalties, and served five months at a federal prison in Marion, Ill. Rose then spent three months in a halfway house and performed 1,000 hours of community service.
He had harsh words for former Reds teammate Johnny Bench, who said Rose should not be reinstated.
"If you listen to Johnny Bench, you'd think he was in on every meeting I ever had," Rose said. "He wasn't in on any of them."
He said Bench was angry "that the street outside Cinergy Field is named Pete Rose Way and not Johnny Bench Way."
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