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Pete Rose, One of Baseball’s Greatest, Is Banned For Life

August 24, 1989 GMT

NEW YORK (AP) _ Cincinnati Reds Manager Pete Rose, one of the greatest players in the history of baseball, was banned for life from the game Thursday because baseball’s commissioner found that he bet on his own team.

Rose ″has engaged in a variety of acts which have stained the game and he must now live with the consequences of those acts,″ baseball Commissioner A. Bartlett Giamatti said at a news conference.

Rose, who has continued to deny he bet on baseball, can apply for reinstatement after one year. Even if he’s turned down, the game’s most prolific hitter will still be eligible for election to the Hall of Fame in 1992.


″I’ve been in baseball three decades and to think I’m going to be out of baseball for a very short period of time hurts,″ Rose said at a news conference in Cincinnati, where he was born and where he broke Ty Cobb’s all- time hits record of 4,191 in 1985.

Of the 14 other players who received lifetime penalties, however, none was ever allowed back, and Giamatti emphatically denied he had plans to permit Rose to return.

″There is no deal for reinstatement,″ Giamatti said at a news conference in New York. ″He has been fired by me.″

The Cincinnati Reds named coach Tommy Helms as interim manager and said they would begin a search for Rose’s permanent successor. In his last game, Rose, who liked to boast that he played in more winning games than anyone, guided the Reds past Chicago 6-5 in 10 innings on Monday.

Rose now may not appear at old-timers’ games, cannot wear a major league uniform or work in any capacity for a big league club. He can’t even step onto a field.

Rose’s contract runs through Oct. 30, 1990, and calls for him to get an additional $604,166.67. The Reds, however, are no longer obligated to pay him.

Rose and Giamatti on Wednesday signed a five-page agreement, saying the punishment was ″fair″ and ending two months of legal wrangling.

Rose’s lawyers first approached baseball in April and expressed ″a desire to talk,″ deputy commissioner Francis T. Vincent said. The two sides met again in late July and made a tentative settlement last Friday.

″There really wasn’t a negotiation,″ Giamatti said. ″It is not a compromise.″

Giamatti said he had concluded from evidence compiled by special investigator John Dowd that Rose bet on baseball, including the Reds to win. Giamatti had sought to hold a hearing with Rose, but a series of court decisions prevented that from happening.

Rose countered: ″Despite what the commissioner said today, I didn’t bet on baseball. I have too much respect for the game, too much love for the game.″

Rose said he regretted only ″that I won’t have the opportunity to tell my side of the story.″

The agreement stated that Rose ″acknowledges that the commissioner has a factual basis to impose the penalty provided herein, and hereby accepts the penalty imposed on him ... and agrees not to challenge that penalty in court or otherwise.″

Rose also agreed not to contest or appeal any decision by the commissioner on reinstatment.

Giamatti admitted there was no precedent for reinstatement and would not speculate on what Rose must do to get back into the game.

″The burden of proof is on Mr. Rose,″ said Giamatti, who added that the commissioner’s office will not require Rose to enter a gambling rehabilitation program. But ″confident steps to rehabilitation should be taken.″

″I don’t think I have a gambling problem,″ said Rose, who has admitted betting on sports other than baseball.

Rose’s attorney, Reuven Katz, said the Cincinnati Reds manager accepted the ban and dropped his court action in Ohio against Giamatti because ″he got what he wanted, that is, no finding that he bet on baseball.″

Rose became the first person to be banned for life since 1943, when Philadelphia Phillies president William D. Cox was barred for betting on his own team. He never applied for reinstatement, but attempts by Shoeless Joe Jackson, one of those accused of fixing the World Series in 1919, and others who were banished never succeeded.

Some past and current Reds agreed with the decision that banned Rose for violating Major League Rule 21.

″If he bet on baseball and he bet on the Reds, that’s just the rules of the game,″ said Johnny Bench, a Hall of Fame teammate with Rose on the Big Red Machine.

Reaction was mixed among the 450 writers who will decide whether Rose is elected to the Hall of Fame.

″I would not vote for him,″ Los Angeles Times writer Ross Newhan said. ″Putting the uniform on carries responsibilities beyond playing on the field.″

″Yes, I would vote for him,″ Bob Dolgan of the Cleveland Plain Dealer said. ″If you would keep him out, you’d have to throw out too many players who had off-the-field problems.″

Even Hall of Famers disagreed.

Bob Feller said he would never go back to Cooperstown if Rose was elected.

But Ted Williams said: ″I would let him in.″

″The morals in this country have eased over the years. Look how many people bet every day,″ Williams said. ″I’m not saying it’s right, but it’s shouldn’t deny him something he deserves.″