Work in Sports
Editor's Note: This piece was first published in 1999
Part Three: The Hit King in exile
On August 23, 1989, Pete Rose was banished from baseball. Eight days later on September 1, Commissioner Bart Giamatti was dead of a heart attack and Fay Vincent was named as his successor. Vincent currently sits on the board of Time Warner, the parent company of CNN/SI. Rose would later serve a prison sentence for tax evasion related to his winnings at the race track and sales of his memorabilia. In the final segment of Sonja Steptoe's Page One special report, One Man Out: The Pete Rose Case, Rose argues that he should be let back in baseball.
By Sonja Steptoe, CNN/SI
Rose says that today he is a changed man.
"I have cleaned my act up. I do no more illegal gambling. I am very selective of the people I associate with. And that's really what Mr. Giamatti said when he suspended me. He said he wants me to reconfigure my life."
Vincent, who served as deputy commissioner during the investigation under the late Bart Giamatti, and who subsequently became his successor, remains today unconvinced that Rose is a changed man.
"By that, I think we meant he had to show us that he knew what he did was harmful to baseball. He had to make amends to baseball and he had to go out and prove that he deserved to be reinstated by the way he conducted his personal affairs. And I think on all three grounds, Pete has failed."
But Rose contends there's one sure way to keep him on the straight and narrow path.
"The easiest way for baseball to eliminate me from going to a casino is just by letting me back in baseball, where I can be a part of the game I love. And I won't need to make a living by going to casinos."
Even those in baseball who would like to see Rose back in the game say that until he admits that he bet on baseball, and on the team he was managing, he can't expect to be reinstated or stand for election to the Hall of Fame.
Among those who want to see Rose publicly admit to his wrongdoing is broadcaster Jim Kaat, who was on Rose's Cincinnati coaching staff in 1985.
"It's disappointing, but again, until Pete comes forward and admits what he did, according to the evidence that's so strong, I don't think he's going to be reinstated. And I can understand why. I'm disappointed because Pete can be so valuable to organizations right now."
Vincent insists the evidence speaks for itself.
The baseball establishment and the odds would seem to be against Rose in his battle for reinstatement. Commissioner Bud Selig still hasn't responded to Rose's request to have the ban against him lifted. The exiled Hit King says he may resort to suing baseball. But it's just the sort of fight that "Charlie Hustle" relished during his playing days. And just the sort of gamble that he is still willing to take.