Time to Fess Up If Pete Rose hopes to be reinstated, he must admit he bet on his sport

December 23, 2002

The first brick in a road that may bring Pete Rose back to
baseball was placed eight months ago, as Rose watched a 13th
consecutive season begin with him banned from the game. Rose's
agent, Warren Greene, called Major League Baseball president Bob
DuPuy, the top assistant to commissioner Bud Selig, with a
question: If Rose publicly admitted that he bet on baseball,
would he be reinstated?

Selig, who had steadfastly refused to consider allowing Rose back
into the game, deliberated for two months. Then, in June, he told
DuPuy to continue a dialogue with Greene. Those discussions led
to a Nov. 25 meeting in Milwaukee between Rose and Selig that
also included Hall of Famer Mike Schmidt, who was one of Rose's
teammates with the Phillies and has been a friend and
conciliator. Why did Selig relent? Two sources familiar with the
talks said it was because Rose had raised the possibility of an
admission of guilt for the first time.

Selig declined to comment on the matter, and Rose issued a
statement last Thursday indicating he would not discuss the case,
calling it "delicate." Asked why Rose, 61, would suddenly make an
offer to admit guilt, one source said, "I think he realized he
was never coming back without it."

A source close to the matter said that Selig will insist on
nothing less than a public admission "with great specifics" from
Rose as a condition of his return. That means Rose will have to
acknowledge findings in a 1989 report by John Dowd, a special
investigator for baseball, that Rose bet on Reds games 51 times
in '87 while he was the manager of the team. Rule 21(d), which is
posted in every major league clubhouse, warns that any person
"who shall bet any sum whatsoever upon any baseball game in
connection with which the bettor has a duty to perform, shall be
declared permanently ineligible." In '91 the Hall of Fame
established a rule that any person on the ineligible list cannot
be considered for election to the Hall of Fame.

Talks between the commissioner's office and Rose are likely to
continue into at least January, one source said. Still unclear is
whether Selig would choose to remove the ban only as it relates
to the Hall of Fame, allow Rose a partial reinstatement that
would restrict his employment, such as preventing him from
managing or coaching, or fully reinstate him. Any reinstatement
for Rose will contain conditions and will likely include a
probationary period.

In addition to Schmidt, Rose has received support from Yankees
owner George Steinbrenner, who is considered to have influence
with Selig because of their long friendship and his place on the
Hall of Fame board of directors. Steinbrenner declined to confirm
or deny the account of one source who said Steinbrenner spoke
directly with Selig on Rose's behalf. Steinbrenner did say, "In
my mind Pete Rose belongs in the Hall of Fame. He earned it.
Beyond that, whether he belongs back in baseball is the
commissioner's decision."

COLOR PHOTO: JULIE JACOBSON /AP Rose initiated talks with Selig, who wants him to offer "great specifics" about his wagering.

short Hops

The Braves' efforts to repair a bullpen that has lost Mike
Remlinger, Chris Hammond and Tim Spooneybarger could come to a
halt (Atlanta acquired lefthander Ray King from the Brewers on
Monday) if Greg Maddux accepts their offer of arbitration, in
which Maddux could command a salary of $15 million for next
season. "If that happens, we're over budget and we're done," an
Atlanta source says.... Having traded shortstop Rey Ordonez to
the Devil Rays, the Mets will give 19-year-old prospect Jose
Reyes the opportunity to win the job.... Padres owner John Moores
gave G.M. Kevin Towers a budget exception to get free agent
Edgardo Alfonzo, whom Towers offered $24 million over four years.
The Giants trumped San Diego by $2 million to land Alfonzo,
leaving Jeff Kent's future with San Francisco in doubt....
Athletics G.M. Billy Beane obtained Erubiel Durazo as his
designated hitter after three years of trying. It took a
four-team trade in which the Diamondbacks acquired pitcher Elmer
Dessens from Cincinnati.