For a generation of baseball fans, Pete Rose lived up to his nickname of “Charlie Hustle.” He epitomized the ideal of the hard-working, scrappy kid who overcame his lack of innate athletic ability to become a great player through desire, dedication and a love of the game. For his fans, he was a living embodiment of the spirit of baseball, which made it even more shocking that he was ultimately banned from the sport for betting.
Rose was known for his fierce competitiveness. Unfortunately, this manifested itself with sports betting along with playing the game. In 1989, media reports linked him to betting on baseball games including games involving the Cincinnati Reds team that he managed. An investigation conducted by lawyer John Dowd on behalf of Major League Baseball showed that Rose bet on 52 different Reds games in 1987, placing an average of around $10,000 on each game.
Faced with the Dowd Report, Commissioner Bart Giamatti suspended Rose for life from baseball in August 1989. Rose disputed the findings of the Dowd Report for decades, despite the mountain of evidence against him and the fact that he voluntarily accepted the lifetime ban. After years of denials, Rose finally came clean in his 2004 autobiography that he had bet on baseball, although he was adamant that he never bet against the Reds.
Detractors – including Dowd – noted that by choosing to bet on certain games, Rose potentially was driven to place more emphasis on these games, and also was making a telling statement when he didn’t wager on his team. Knowing that Rose did not bet on the Reds was just as useful, if not more so, to gamblers than knowing when he did bet on them. Despite his admission of guilt, Rose has not had his ban lifted from baseball and the sport’s all-time hit leader is not eligible for the Hall of Fame.