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This Day in Sports History: MLB Announces Investigation of Pete Rose

Pete Rose's MLB playing career ended in 1986, but his legacy in the sport began to change three years later.

On this day in 1989, Major League Baseball commissioner Peter Ueberroth announced the league was investigating Rose for unspecified "serious allegations." The next day, Sports Illustrated reported on Rose's ties to gambling on baseball.

At the time, Rose was the manager of the Cincinnati Reds. He was a player-manager with the team starting in 1984, but became the outright manager of the team following his retirement as a player in 1986. 

The investigation came as a surprise after Rose's illustrious baseball career. A three-time World Series winner, 17-time All-Star and leader in all-time hits (4,256), games played (3,562) and at-bats (14,053), Rose was found to have broken a golden rule of baseball—no betting on the game.

At first, Rose dodged the allegations. Five days after the investigation began, he called it "ridiculous" that he would flash betting signs during contests and did not confirm or deny if he gambled on the game. He later admitted he would often bet at the racetrack, where it was legal, and insisted he never placed illegal bets on any sport.

After MLB announced its investigation on March 20, 1989, new information on Rose's misdeeds came to light. SI reported that four men—Chris Beyersdoerfer, Michael Fry, Thomas Gioiosa and Paul Janszen—had admitted to taking bets for Rose or being aware of them. The Dayton Daily News also reported that federal investigators were looking into "tax and gambling issues" involving Rose, including income he gained by selling personal memorabilia.

Lawyer John Dowd, who led MLB's investigation, issued a 225-page report to new commissioner Bart Giamatti on May 9 about his findings. The report included phone records and testimonies, primarily from bookmaker Ron Peters and Rose's former friends Gioiosa and Janszen, claiming Rose placed bets on baseball, including on the Reds. Giamatti later revealed that 40 witnesses testified for the report and that Rose testified for two days. 

Dowd revealed in court on June 22 that he had evidence Rose bet on the Reds while he was a player-manager in 1985-86 and in 1987 when he was the team's manager. The case later advanced to federal court, despite attempts from Rose's lawyers to keep it in Hamilton County. 

On Aug. 24, Rose accepted a spot on baseball's permanently ineligible list, banning him from baseball—and the Hall of Fame—for life. By Rose voluntarily joining the list, MLB agreed to not release the findings of its gambling investigation. Baseball rules state that Rose could apply for reinstatement to the sport, but Giamatti said, "There is absolutely no deal for reinstatement. That is exactly what we did not agree to in terms of a fixed number of years." 

Meanwhile, when asked if he expected to be reinstated to the sport, Rose answered, "absolutely." Even after he accepted his spot on the permanently ineligible list, Rose denied that he bet on baseball. The following year, Rose spent five months in jail and was fined $50,000 after pleading guilty to filing false income tax returns. 

Rose later admitted to betting on baseball in a conversation with commissioner Bud Selig in 2002. He did not give a public apology until 2010 in front of some of his former teammates, where he became emotional.

"I disrespected the game of baseball," Rose said. "When you do that, you disrespect your teammates, the game and your family... I got suspended 21 years ago. For 10-12 years, I kept it inside... That's changed. I'm a different guy... I love the fans, I love the game of baseball, and I love Cincinnati baseball." 

Still, 31 years after MLB's investigation, Rose has not been reinstated to the game of baseball despite many appeals. Hall of Fame voters decided to ban those on the permanently ineligible list from being inducted in 2001. 

Rose again recently filed for reinstatement after the Houston Astros were found to have cheated by illegally stealing signs. His 20-page petition includes the basis that Astros players received lesser punishment for their violations.

"There cannot be one set of rules for Mr. Rose and another for everyone else," Rose's petition for reinstatement states, according to ESPN. "No objective standard or categorization of the rules violations committed by Mr. Rose can distinguish his violations from those that have incurred substantially less severe penalties from Major League Baseball."

MLB has yet to rule on Rose's recent petition but reportedly plans to review it. If reinstated, Rose would be able to participate in the game he has much history in but has been banned from for over three decades.