Work in Sports
Editor's Note: This piece was first published in 1999
Part Two: Baseball states its case
During a 24-year big league career, Pete Rose played the game with an uncommon intensity. But baseball determined that Rose lived his private life with uncommon recklessness. In part two of her special three-part report, "One Man Out: The Pete Rose Case," CNN/SI's Sonja Steptoe takes a look at the evidence baseball used to banish "Charlie Hustle" from the sport.
By Sonja Steptoe, CNN/SI
(CNN/SI) -- Pete Rose was the 1963 Rookie of the Year. From that auspicious beginning, he went on to set 12 major league records, including most career hits.
He was the star of the 1975 and 1976 World Series Champion Cincinnati squads dubbed "The Big Red Machine." And was arguably the most complete ballplayer of the 1970s.
"You say Pete Rose and everybody knows 'Charlie Hustle,'" says Norm Charlton, who was a relief pitcher for Rose and the Reds from 1988-92. "Everybody knows he's the guy who ran over a catcher [Cleveland's Ray Fosse] in the 1970 All-Star game. Everybody knows the guy that ran to first base on walks."
"He had great insight, great anticipation of what to do at the right time," said broadcaster Jim Kaat, who was the pitching coach for Rose in 1985.
"I used to think the only reason they made Monday Night Football was for guys to bet." Rose said. "Or the only reason they put the lines in the paper was for guys to bet."
Asked if he got a thrill from betting, Rose said, "Yeah. To be honest with you, I couldn't watch it if I didn't bet on it."
Kaat says that he and Rose shared a love for horse racing and spent time at the race tracks. But Kaat also says that's where the similarity ended because for him, he says it was just a hobby. What about Rose? "I also knew there was probably a bit of an addiction there, a compulsion that I didn't have that he did have."
Baseball forbids illegal gambling of any kind. But players, managers and coaches face severe sanctions if they bet on baseball and are subject to a lifetime ban if they bet on games involving their team. Suspicious that Rose was doing exactly that, in February 1989, the Commissioner's office hired former Justice Department prosecutor John Dowd to investigate Rose's activities.
"We obtained the betting slips of Pete," Dowd remembers. "They were in Pete's handwriting and have his thumbprint on them that show the results of betting on the Cincinnati Reds and other baseball teams."
Dowd's report concluded that Rose had bet on baseball, and in particular, on games of the Cincinnati Reds during the 1985, 1986 and 1987 seasons.
On August 24, 1989, Commissioner Bart Giamatti announced his decision: "I am confronted by the facts of the record of Mr. Dowd and on the basis of that, yes, I have concluded that he (Rose) bet on baseball."
According to betting records baseball investigators obtained from a number of Rose's bookies and confederates, in any given week, he typically risked between $2,000 and $5,000 apiece on as many as 50 games. And many of them were Cincinnati Reds games.
Paul Janszen, who was an unemployed salesman, told baseball's investigators that he placed those bets for Rose, with Ron Peters, an Ohio bookmaker.
"He (Janszen) took Pete's bets on all sports, including baseball," said Dowd.
The Dowd report says Rose also placed bets through other middlemen. There was Tommy Gioiosa, a one-time employee at a Cincinnati health club, whom Rose had treated like an adopted son. And Michael Bertolini, a Brooklyn, N.Y. native and business partner of Rose's. Not only did they place Rose's bets with bookies, according to the report, they also collected his winnings and delivered his debt payments.
Months after Rose was suspended, Gioiosa admitted to Sports Illustrated in a jailhouse interview that Rose bet on the Reds. But Gioiosa would not speak with Dowd, and Bertolini denied any involvement or knowledge of Rose betting on baseball. Nevertheless, Dowd says the testimony and records Janszen provided, coupled with corroborating documents obtained independently, gave him a full picture of the way Rose used the three men.
"Gambling is a crime of secrecy," said Dowd. "It's done to conceal. That's why you have middlemen and you use other people's phones. You put all of that together and its obvious what was going on. Then we tie it to financial records, we tie it to betting records, etc., and it all came together. I regarded those as icing on the cake."
Shown a copy of the records that Janszen claimed were Rose's, the former ballplayer countered, "Sure, sure, of course, he's going to say that. What's he going to say? How is that going to stand up in court? Paul Janszen will tell you, he bet too. So if you're going to interpret that every bet he was making for me, then you got something. But I am saying he didn't make no bets for me."
Janszen was indeed betting on baseball. But he and others testified that he could not have afforded to risk thousands of dollars per game. Also corroborating Janszen's story, according to the Dowd report, are phone records showing calls Janszen made to bookies and sports betting lines that coincide with game starting times and dates in his betting records.
But Rose says it all proves nothing.
Rose continues: "That don't mean that he's making bets for me."
But according to Dowd, phone logs from the Reds clubhouse show numerous calls back and forth between Rose and Janszen and other gambling contacts during that period, many of them placed close to game time.
"They still had those wonderful telephone operators in Cincinnati and they were entering the calls in and out. And when you're sitting there saying, 'Well, look, game time was 7 or 7:30 and all of a sudden at 7:10, Rose makes a call that's either to Janszen or Peters or Gioiosa or whatever. And so then we go get his records, and he called the bookmaker, and a few minutes later, the call would come back. That would be the confirming call." Rose says the calls he made to Janszen from the clubhouse were innocent.
"I used to call him all the time (to see) if he wanted tickets to the games. He used to come to all the games."
Just as damning to Rose, according to the Dowd report, are betting records that a handwriting expert says Rose himself authored. In addition, a fingerprint specialist found Rose's print on that document.
"What it proves is Pete recorded his own bets on the Reds in the Montreal game," Dowd says. "That's what it proves. That alone is a clear, simple violation of Rule 21(d). You could throw him out on that one piece of paper."
Shown the document in question, Rose asked, "How is this a betting slip? I mean, if you have a betting slip, you have to have a team that you bet on. You have to have an amount that you bet on. If you look at this date (pointing to the document), Montreal was at Cincinnati that day, so they even got the home team wrong. I think if I was betting on something, I would have the home team right."
About that detail, Rose is correct. But the second of the three pages for April 10 and 11, 1987 shows evidence of more baseball bets, including two Cincinnati games with the letters "W" beside each, according to the Dowd Report. The Reds beat the San Diego Padres on those days.
As far as Dowd is concerned, Rose has no argument. "It's authentic, it's competent, it's relevant, it's admissible. I'll take it."
Through his middlemen, according to the Dowd Report, in 1985, Rose began placing many of his bets on baseball with Ron Peters. Peters turned over to investigators records that he said corroborated his sworn testimony. Peters told Dowd that for a time he stopped taking bets from Rose because the Reds manager would not pay his gambling debts.
According to the Dowd Report, during the period when Peters wouldn't take Rose's bets, the Reds manager turned to Michael Bertolini and another New York-based middleman. In conversations Janszen recorded with those two men, investigators learned that the two placed bets for Rose with Mafia bookies and Rose continued to lose astounding sums.
Dowd estimates Rose's total losses to those bookies at half a million dollars.
"All I can tell you is in the year 1987 organized crime in New York City owned Pete Rose," Dowd said. "They owned him.
"I guarantee if I owe a man a dollar, he's got my attention. If I owe him $500,000 and he's charging six for five for juice, he owns me. And the idea that the mob in New York owned the manager of the Cincinnati Reds is outrageous."
Rose admits that he bet on games. But he said they weren't baseball games.
"I don't know about any debts to the Mafia, but it's on the record that I bet football with Mike Bertolini. I'm not going to deny that I bet football with Mike Bertolini. I did and that was my mistake. But betting on football with Mike Bertolini is a lot different from betting baseball with Ron Peters."
Rose also points out that Janszen had pleaded guilty to tax evasion and Peters was about to be sentenced for tax evasion and cocaine trafficking.
"Before he (Dowd) even asked me anything about it, what I did or didn't do, they already believed a convicted felon running for his life because of drugs."
Dowd says everything in his report is corroborated three different ways. He also says Rose was shown all the evidence investigators collected, but offered no evidence to undercut Peters or Janszen. Neither did his friends Bertolini and Gioiosa.
"My feeling was if they had something contrary to say, Pete would have had them right up in my office telling me," Dowd said. "But there was nothing but dead silence on the other end, even after they saw the information. And we showed it to him."
Vincent remembers what happened when Rose was confronted with the evidence.
"You'd say to him, 'Pete, all these calls from the bookie, there are hundreds of them. Here are the phone records. It's the summertime. No basketball, and football. What were you and the bookie talking about? If you weren't making the calls, who was making the call? Come on Pete.' And he'd say, 'I dunno.' No answer. You see the deposition, there's just no response. And that's because there is no answer. He did it."
In denying the allegations against him, Rose points out that the agreement he and Giamatti signed is not an admission of guilt. However, by signing it, Rose acknowledged that Giamatti had a factual basis for imposing a lifetime ban under Rule 21(d).