Pete Rose: "I'm 14 years late"

We all knew it was true. Well, we all <I>figured</I> it was true. Technically, there were only a very select few who knew without any doubt that Pete Rose bet on baseball. The rest of us figured that if his gambling addiction was as bad as we all heard, it probably included baseball. Now, Rose has stepped to the plate and the truth is there for all.

In an interview to air on ABC's Primetime Thursday this week, Rose admits to the world that he did in fact bet on baseball between 1987 and 1988. It is the first time that Rose has publicly stated what many thought to be true.

The admissions are also contained in Rose's book My Prison Without Walls which will be released Thursday. In the book, Rose details a 2002 meeting with commissioner Bud Selig where he admitted his baseball bets. "Yes sir, I did bet on baseball," Rose remembers telling Selig in the meeting. Rose goes on to say that he bet on baseball four or five times a week and didn't figure he would ever get caught. Rose also emphatically states that "I never bet against my own team and I never made any bets from the clubhouse." A report by attorney John Dowd in 1989 stated that Rose placed 412 wagers on baseball games in the first half of the 1987 season, including 52 bets on the Reds, the team he was managing at the time, to win.

Rose hopes, and believes, that the public admission will be the final step he needs to take in order to be reinstated to baseball. That reinstatement could open the door for Rose to be elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame. Both opportunities are important to Rose. For baseball writers to elect Rose to the Hall, he would have to appear on the ballot by December of 2005. After that, his induction to the Hall of Fame would be up to the Veterans Committee.

In the ABC interview, Rose was asked why he waited so long to admit betting on baseball. "I just never had the opportunity to tell anybody that was going to help me. I couldn't get a response from baseball for 12 years." Rose also says that he wishes he could go back and do it all over again, stating that he would come clean from the very beginning if he could.

Rose believed that by admitting his baseball gambling to Selig he would be reinstated before too long. Sources close to the commissioner say that Selig insisted that Rose admit his baseball gambling to the public as part of his application to be reinstated to baseball. It's unclear if Rose's admission will lead to his reinstatement. "We haven't seen the book. Until we read the book, there's nothing to comment on," Selig told The Associated Press on Sunday night. It's unclear if the televised confession will lead to a formal comment from the commissioner.

"I should have had the opportunity to get help, but baseball had no fancy rehab for gamblers like they do for drug addicts," Rose wrote. "If I had admitted my guilt, it would have been the same as putting my head on the chopping block -- lifetime ban. Death penalty. I spent my entire life on the baseball fields of America, and I was not going to give up my profession without first seeing some hard evidence. ... Right or wrong, the punishment didn't fit the crime -- so I denied the crime."

Rose had released an earlier autobiography in 1989, co-written by Roger Kahn. In that book – Pete Rose: My Story - Rose insisted that he never bet on baseball. "I feel he has embarrassed me," Kahn said Monday. "I must have asked Pete 20 times, `Did you bet on baseball?' He would look at me, blink his eyes and say, `I didn't bet baseball. I have too much respect for the game.' "

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