THE ROSE PROBE
Baseball commissioner Peter Ueberroth announced on Monday that his office "has for several months been conducting a full inquiry into serious allegations" about Cincinnati Reds manager Pete Rose. Ueberroth, who on Feb. 20 summoned Rose from spring training in Florida to New York City for an unspecified purpose, did not divulge the nature of the inquiry, but SI has been told that the commissioner has information that Rose may have bet on baseball games. Under major league rules, if Rose bet on games in which his team was not involved, he would be suspended for one year. If he bet on games in which his team was involved, he would be banned for life.
One man linked to possible baseball betting with Rose is Ron Peters, the owner of Jonathan's Cafe in Franklin, Ohio, 40 miles north of Cincinnati. Alan Statman, an attorney for Peters, describes Peters as Rose's "principal bookmaker" and approached SI last week in hopes of selling Peters's story. Statman told SI's Jill Lieber and Martin F. Dardis that he and his client had been asked by Kevin Hallinan, baseball's security chief, "if we had information on Pete Rose betting on baseball. We said we can supply that information." Statman said Hallinan "told me that if we could deliver what we say we could, in general, that means Pete Rose could be banned from baseball." Statman said Peters would not tell his story to baseball authorities without first selling it to a publication. SI declined to buy Peters's story.
Another man said by sources to have been involved with Rose in baseball betting is Paul Janszen, a bodybuilder friend of Rose's. Janszen pleaded guilty in January to a charge of evading taxes on income from the sale of steroids and is serving a six-month sentence in a Cincinnati halfway house. Janszen recently discussed with SI the possible sale of a story about Rose. Although SI did not buy the story, a source with knowledge of Janszen's dealings with federal investigators said that while in the dugout at Riverfront Stadium, Rose exchanged signals somehow relating to baseball betting with Janszen, who was in the stands. And a fellow weightlifter told SI he heard Janszen using a phone at Gold's gym in suburban Cincinnati to place baseball bets he understood had come from Rose.
"Janszen used to come into the gym, pull out a newspaper and go over all the baseball games," the weightlifter said. "He'd mark them with a pen, then he'd go into the office and phone in bets for Pete Rose. He never said he was doing it for Pete. But that's what the talk was around the gym."
Rose makes no secret of his passion for betting at the racetrack, but he told SI he has never wagered with bookies on any sport. "I'd be willing to bet you, if I was a betting man, that I have never bet on baseball," he said. A former handyman and friend of Rose's, Chuck Beyersdoerfer, says Rose did place bets through a bookie on football and basketball games and that the Reds skipper kept three TV sets going at once in his living room to monitor the action. And Michael Fry, a former co-owner of Gold's now serving an eight-year federal prison sentence for cocaine trafficking and income-tax evasion, told SI's Bruce Selcraig that he heard a crony of Rose's, Tommy Gioiosa, regularly place bets to bookies on college and pro basketball and football games; Fry said he understood those bets to be for Rose. According to Fry, Rose, who promoted Gold's in various ways, including a newspaper ad identifying the establishment as Pete Rose's Gold's Gym, said he never bet baseball. But Fry said Rose often talked about which baseball teams would be good to bet on. Gioiosa identifies himself as a professional gambler but says he never placed bets for Rose.
Rose denied knowing Peters and said, "I don't know if I've ever been to Jonathan's or any other caf�." However, three people told ST they have seen Rose in Jonathan's; two of them said they saw him in Peters's company. Asked why Rose would make a trek to an eatery in Franklin, Peters cracked, "He liked my beer."
If Rose is found to have bet on baseball, it could jeopardize his otherwise certain election to the Hall of Fame when he becomes eligible in 1992. Reds owner Marge Schott, asked if Rose had bet on the national pastime, spoke for all of baseball when she said. "I hope not. I hope not. God, I hope not."
THE UNKINDEST CUT
For the last eight years James Kopf has dressed up as Cubby bear, an unofficial, unpaid mascot of the Chicago Cubs during spring training. Accompanied by Max the mongrel, Cubby had become a regular at the team's HoHoKam Park in Mesa, Ariz. Alas, over the winter, when Kopf asked permission to return this season, HoHoKam officials played hardball: No, they said, "due to potential liability and other considerations."