Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Pete Rose, the legendary baseballer and excommunicated Hit King, launched his new reality show — Pete Rose: Hits and Mrs. — last week on TLC. Rose, a former player and manager who was ousted from baseball for betting on his own team, has found new life and a new wife.  He's sharing his engagement and new family all on camera.
Jim Murray had a very strong opinion on Rose's banishment from baseball — it shouldn't keep him out of the Baseball Hall of Fame.

THURSDAY, November 9, 1989, SPORTS


Time to Rejoice: He's Taking a Cut at Real Opponent

    Bartender, drinks all around! No, better yet, let's all bow in silent prayer. A little happy music, professor! Put away the violins. How about a trumpet solo?
    Listen to this:
    "Statement on gambling by Pete Rose — 11/8/89.
    "After I was suspended from baseball on Aug. 24, I decided to see a psychiatrist because of the many accusations made in recent months that I have a gambling problem. Since then, I have come to learn and accept the fact that I do have a problem related to gambling — what my doctor, James Randolph Hillard of the University of Cincinnati Medical School, calls a gambling disorder — and I am getting treatment."
    Well, hallelujah! The most prolific hitter in the annals of baseball just made the most important contact of his career. How's this for a sentence that his many friends and fans have been hoping to hear for two years?
    "I know I can't gamble on anything anymore, because I can't control it."
    Well, amen. Way to go, Pete.
    Peter Edward Rose handed that statement to me Wednesday as I walked into his hotel room in Beverly Hills. I wanted to cheer.
    I had gone there to talk about his recently published book, "Pete Rose: My Story," by Pete Rose and Roger Kahn. But I was uneasy. The book was an inconclusive rehash of events leading up to the most shocking banishment in baseball history since the Black Sox. The book left unanswered questions hanging in the air.
    The book left Pete Rose in the same unregenerate and unrepentant posture he had been in all along.
    So, he had bet on a few horses? Big deal. Doesn't everybody?
    Was he broke? Are you kidding? Count the Rolls-Royces and the swimming pools.
    So why was he selling his mementoes? Well, Reggie Jackson sold $980,000 worth, a record. Pete sold over a million. Pete is in the business of breaking records. He wanted the record, not the money.
    Compulsive gambler? Naw! How can you say that about a guy who played in Philadelphia and only went to Atlantic City three times? Or was it four? So he lost $34,000 in three months. But he was making $400,000, wasn't he?
    The book was about 290 pages of what the psychologists call denial.
    Pete was all right? He was out of the game he loved. He was a nonperson in baseball. When he went 'round to the Cincinnati clubhouse the last day of the season to say goodbye to the team he had led most of the season, he was barred from entering.
    That's when it finally seeped through to Charlie Hustle that something was wrong. He was taking too many pitches. He was getting called out with
the bat on his shoulder. He had given up the game he loved for the company of felons, guys who ratted on him when the cops came.
    The world at large pretty much accepted it as an admission of guilt when Pete signed an agreement with the commissioner of baseball accepting permanent suspension for betting with bookies, associating with felons. And even though it specifically stipulated there were no findings about
betting on baseball, the late Commissioner Bart Giamatti said it was his opinion that Pete had.
    Why would Pete capitulate if he had cards to play? Had a deal been cut?
    Pete — and Giamatti — said no. Only a right to apply for reinstatement in one year instead of seven.
    But what Pete really couldn't come to grips with was, how could he be diagnosed as a compulsive gambler when there were some days he didn't bet at all? It was explained to him that alcoholics have been known to stay on the wagon for a year. But they are still alcoholics — as one drink could immediately prove.
    Pete conceded that there were forces at work he didn't fully understand. A curve on the fists Pete can handle. A psychosis you can't hit to right.
    Pete had 15 sessions with his psychiatrist. He learned something about himself at each one. Pete is an explosion of energy. When he quit the game on the field, there was no place for this to go.
    He has to get involved. Other people could watch a horse race, a game, a fight on TV. Pete had to get in it. Since he couldn't pick up a bat or a glove and get in a game anymore, he took out a checkbook.
    Why wasn't there any of this in the book?
    "We finished the book on Sept. 1," explains Pete. "Then, I started to go to Randy (Hillard). We will update the book."
    He also will update Pete Rose. You'll have to hide the cards and soft-pedal the spread around Pete, but he's already excited about the challenge of not  gambling. For Pete, it's just another 3-2 count.
    "I like a challenge and this is a challenge," he says, excited.
    Everyone who ever rooted for Pete Rose with the bases loaded and the game or the pennant on the line has to be standing and cheering here. There is one thing good to remember: Pete always was at his best with two strikes on him.

Jim Murray Memorial Foundation | P.O. Box 60753 | Pasadena | CA | 91116

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