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There was no dramatic scene, no kid coming up to Rose and pleading, "Say you didn't cheat, Pete." But a five-year-old boy in a CHARLIE HUSTLE T-shirt had attended the sentencing. "I wanted to bring my son to see Pete Rose," said the boy's father, Chris Meyer of Dayton, "but I also wanted to be here for Pete in his darkest hour. I was there for 4,192 [the hit that broke Ty Cobb's career record in 1985], and I just figured it would be good to show Pete that not all his fans have forgotten him."
William Hunt, the assistant U.S. attorney who handled the Rose case, said that he was satisfied with the sentence. Both he and Judge Spiegel are avid Reds fans; both have Cincinnati caps in their offices, and both attended Reds games last week. "I try never to let my personal feelings enter a case," said Hunt, 43 and a former captain of the Indiana University gymnastics team. "I thought Rose should have been treated as a normal citizen, and I think he was."
The sentencing put an end to an investigation begun by the Internal Revenue Service more than a year ago. Rose had earlier repaid $366,043 in back taxes, interest and penalties, mostly on undeclared income from card shows, the sale of memorabilia and winnings on 10 Pik Six horse race wagers. According to a source familiar with the case, Rose's attorneys won a promise in their plea bargaining that the government would not try him for any other crimes that he may have committed before April 20—the date of the plea agreement. Nonetheless, many questions regarding the extent of Rose's gambling activities remain unanswered.
SI reported in its Feb. 12 issue that the U.S. Postal Service had seized a spiral notebook allegedly belonging to Mike Bertolini of New York City, who was Rose's partner in Hit King Marketing, an organizer of baseball-card and memorabilia shows, and who is under investigation for mail fraud. The notebook details what appears to be a large number of bets on basketball, hockey and baseball games, including wagers on Reds games, made by someone identified as "Pete" from April to July 1986. Last week a law enforcement official who has seen the notebook told SI that, if "Pete" is Pete Rose, the notebook will be even more damaging to Rose's reputation than the 1989 report by special investigator John Dowd that persuaded Bart Giamatti, baseball's commissioner at the time, to ban Rose from baseball.
"There were notations like 'Pete owes me...,' 'I owe Pete...,' " said the official. "It has dates, games, spreads and money amounts. There are even some dates with pitchers' names." The contents of the notebook could become public if Bertolini is ever indicted. Bertolini denies that he was ever involved in bookmaking and denies that the notebook is his.
In Sunday's New York Daily News, columnist Mike McAlary quotes a New York City bookmaker named Richard Troy, a.k.a. Val, as telling "an investigator" that Rose still owes him $11,000 for bets he made with him in 1987. Troy is further quoted as saying, "Rose never bet against the Reds. He was betting baseball, hockey and basketball games. He would bet $2,000 a game. The minimum was three games a day." The Daily News says Troy also told the investigator that he had paid Rose his winnings by giving money to Bertolini outside a delicatessen in Brooklyn.
So while Rose may no longer be criminally liable, further proof that he was betting on baseball will seriously jeopardize his chances of being elected to the Hall of Fame, not to mention his chances of being reinstated by the commissioner. Somehow, last week's newspaper stories about how members of the Baseball Writers Association of America may vote when Rose first comes up for election to the Hall, in December 1991, about when his sentence ends, seemed trivial. But according to his friends, Rose cares deeply about being enshrined at Cooperstown.
Rose is even feeling the rejection in Cincinnati. Reggie Williams, a city councilman and former linebacker for the NFL Bengals, is leading a movement to have Pete Rose Way—a street outside Riverfront Stadium—renamed. Says Williams, "What the Pete Rose Way sign is telling kids is: If you're a great athlete, it doesn't matter what you do, what you say, you can still have a street named for you. Name the street Hall of Fame Way for all the Reds. Or Champions Way."
Friends say that Rose, who managed the Reds for five seasons until last August, is embittered because he is not receiving any credit for Cincinnati's rise to the top of the National League West this season. Rose hasn't been to Riverfront Stadium this year, but he religiously watches the Reds on television. One night, according to a friend, he vented his frustration during an early-season telecast. Sitting in his living room in Cincinnati, he said, "I built this team. I made Chris Sabo and Paul O'Neill. I developed all these guys, and who gets the credit? Lou [Piniella]. And he was only there three weeks in spring training."
But neither the Hall of Fame nor Pete Rose Way nor the team is Rose's most immediate concern. His imprisonment is uppermost in his mind. According to Pinzka, Rose wants to begin his sentence as soon as possible. Friends who stopped by the Roses' Cincinnati home last Thursday afternoon report that Rose spent time alone in his bedroom crying. One said he was crying because of the public humiliation, another because he is worried about prison, yet another because he will miss his five-year-old son, Tyler, so much. "I phoned Pete late Thursday night," said restaurant owner Willie DeLuca. "He was very soft-spoken. I had to pull the words out of him."