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A Rose Is a Rose
Rick Reilly
August 16, 1993
Four years after getting banned from baseball, Pete Rose is still hustling—now to get back into the game
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August 16, 1993

A Rose Is A Rose

Four years after getting banned from baseball, Pete Rose is still hustling—now to get back into the game

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"See, I got the idea that if I took the high road and tried to do things right, I'd be all right," he says, trying to see through the windshield. "Because I'm not the first athlete that's ever got in trouble who took the high road and who's gotten back. America is known for giving guys a second chance."

Well, this sure doesn't look much like the high road, but then Rose may never have seen the high road before. At any rate, it seems like Rose is putting a very big touch on America here. No question about it. America may have to stew on this a bit.

This is what Pete Rose says last December when the New York Jets are seven up on the Miami Dolphins with four minutes left and he's trying to watch the damn game but some obnoxious fan of the New Yorks is in the Pete Rose Ballpark Cafe making more noise than a DC-9: "If I bet you on this game, will you shut up?"

Well, this not only shuts up the New York-based patron but also everybody else in the bar in short order, mostly because Rose is supposedly on the wagon as far as illegal betting goes—and besides which, you're not supposed to meet many bettors on the high road in the first place.

But he bets the guy a hundred bucks just the same, giving him the New Yorks straight up, which is some sucker bet, since the New Yorks have a seven-point lead. "Will that shut you up?" says Rose.

The New Yorker decides that will shut him up nicely, and so the bet is on. "I know football so well, I could just see it comin'," Rose says later. And indeed, it comes. Dan Marino takes the Miamis down for a quick score. Only the Miamis' kicker, Pete Stoyanovich, blows the PAT.

Now the New York patron isn't shutting up at all, but laughing louder than before. Right about then, though, the New Yorks get tighter than Roseanne's under-shorts, and the coach of the Miamis, Don Shula, has timeouts left over from 1967 or something, and next thing you know Stoyanovich is looking at a 37-yarder at the gun. He hits it and the Miamis win.

The New Yorker looks like a man swallowing his bridgework. With the whole bar watching, he whips out $100 and forlornly hands it to Rose. Rose, holding it in his fingers like state's evidence, swivels in his chair and hands it right to the bartender. "Here," he says. "This gentleman just gave you a very nice tip."

And Rose says that's as close as he has come to betting illegally since Mr. Giamatti threw his keister forever out of the game. Yeah, he goes to the track now and again; and, yeah, he goes to the Kentucky Derby—"sat two days with the President's mother, too," he says. And, yeah, he plays a regular $5 game of golf, but he says that's no more sinful than a church raffle.

Then one of the parties with Rose reminds him that according to University of Cincinnati psychiatrist Dr. James Hilliard, whom Rose consulted for a short time, he has a gambling disorder and that furthermore there are tapes with Rose on Donahue admitting that he has a terrific gambling problem. And since, near as anybody can remember, almost nobody goes to the track to admire the floral arrangements, this visiting the track now and again can't be good.

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