If I was out of town, Janszen would call me in the afternoon or evening and give me the line. I bet the Reds to win every time. I bet the Phillies, my other former team, to win even when they were huge underdogs and on a losing streak. For me, it wasn't about the odds. I was rooting for my teams—no, believing in my teams. It wasn't the smart way to bet. But it was my gut feeling, and I always bet with my gut. I never—ever—bet against my teams. If I had, I'd be doubting everything I believed in. I'd be giving up!
At one point I was down $31,000 and Janszen was down $9,000 when I left for a road trip to Montreal. We were still 10 grand short of the settle-up figure [which at that point was $50,000], but our bookie in New York, Val, told Janszen he wanted some stew. Janszen called to place his own bets and got into a big argument with Val for welshing on the settle-up figure. The next day I called Janszen and placed my new bets. I won eight of nine games, which would have wiped out my losses and put me plus-10 for the week. But Janszen called back the next day and told me that he'd never gotten the bets down—that Val wouldn't take the action. At that point I was furious. I told Janszen to forget the guy in New York. I refused to deal with him after that fiasco. He wasn't worth the trouble. I was pissed off. I should have read the handwriting on the wall. But I wasn't thinking straight. Soon after that I went back to Ron Peters.
I won 10 during the first week and then went on a roll. Every game I picked turned up aces. Peters complained to Janszen that he was "getting murdered on baseball by Pete Rose." He claimed I was "hotter than a 10-peckered billy goat." There was just one problem: Peters had no intention of paying his losses. He told Janszen that I still owed him [$34,000 from bets placed the previous spring] despite the fact that he'd previously agreed that the debt was already paid. He complained to Janszen that his wife had left him and run off with over $200,000 in cash. But Janszen didn't believe his excuses. He did a little investigating and discovered that Peters had a reputation for stiffing people. At that point I stopped betting sports altogether. Hell, I had no choice. I ran out of bookies!
In the meantime Val was not finished with Janszen. He kept calling and asking for the 10 he thought he was still owed. Janszen got tired of the harassment and changed his phone number. Then someone made a phone call to Janszen's mother, threatening his life. Janszen went berserk. Nobody wants his mother exposed to a small-time gambling dispute. Janszen called the guy in New York and told him that if he ever got another harassing phone call, he was going straight to the FBI. At that point the problems ended-or so I thought.
During spring training of 1988, I got a call from my lawyer Reuven Katz, who said that Janszen had paid him a visit and requested money. He said that Janszen had gotten himself into trouble and needed a lawyer. Janszen told Reuven that back in 1985 he had sold steroids and also been involved in some smalltime cocaine deals. Janszen explained that he never discussed his drug or steroid involvement with me because he was afraid it would jeopardize our friendship. Janszen was right. I may have been a hard-core gambler, but I would never get involved with drugs or steroids. Janszen wanted $30,000 to help pay his legal fees. I didn't feel comfortable with loaning 30 because I didn't think Janszen could repay the money. But I agreed to loan him $10,000.
Janszen called me on several occasions to get back on my good side. But I never returned his calls. Soon after I loaned him the 10 grand, Janszen sent his girlfriend, Danita, over to my house with some bats that he wanted me to sign for his memorabilia collection. Janszen was desperate for money to pay his legal fees and was pulling out all the stops. But Carol got into a big argument with Danita and threw her out of the house. After that, Janszen went berserk. He called one of our closest friends and made threats against my wife and kids.
In January 1989 Reuven received a letter from Janszen requesting more money. Reuven called Roger Makley, a former federal prosecutor from Dayton. Roger examined Janszen's letter and listened to my story concerning our relationship. "If you pay him one dime," said Makley, "you'll be paying for the rest of your life. It'll never stop because he will always keep coming back. It is borderline extortion." At that point I followed his advice. But I still had a major dilemma. Janszen knew that I had bet on baseball. I wanted to settle my situation with him as quietly as possible. In his letter Janszen threatened to go to court if I didn't come up with some money. He was bluffing. He went to the commissioner of baseball instead.
On Feb. 20, 1989, two days after the start of spring training, I was summoned to New York to meet with commissioner Peter Ueberroth and his soon-to-be successor, Bart Giamatti. I suspected that Janszen had followed through with his threats to squeal. But I had no idea how much Mr. Ueberroth knew or believed. In fact, I was hoping the whole matter could be resolved quickly so I could get back to spring training.
I flew to New York and met with Reuven and my other attorney, Robert Pitcairn. They advised me to keep a low profile. They suggested that we listen to the commissioner, review the evidence and then meet afterward to discuss the appropriate strategy. For all they knew, the case would boil down to Janszen's word against mine.
I wasn't thinking so much about fighting baseball as standing up to Janszen. During the previous month Janszen had pleaded guilty to one count of federal tax evasion from selling steroids. I knew he had been investigated, but I didn't know how damaging that investigation would prove to be. But Janszen turned stool pigeon—the worst kind of scum. As soon as the Feds turned up the heat, Janszen flipped like a goddam burger. In return for his cooperation, Janszen avoided prison. He was sentenced to just six months in a halfway house. My attorneys didn't think Janszen would make a credible witness. Based on the lies he had told in the past, I had to agree. [Janszen's cooperation helped force Rose to plead to two felony counts of tax evasion in 1990.]