Pete Rose holds the dubious honor of being both one of the greatest MLB players ever as well as a scorned ex-athlete with many critics. Long before the MLB cracked down on performance-enhancing drugs or the Astros got caught stealing signs, the league caught Rose gambling on games he was also managing.
Over 30 years removed from his lifetime MLB ban, however, Rose’s gambling habits may not have subsided.
Pete Rose on the field
Rose would be a long-time Hall of Famer had he not been caught gambling on those games. The scandal happened after his playing career was over, but it also cast a shadow on his success in the eyes of many. Rose, after all, was one of the greatest offensive players in MLB history before the scandal.
The Cincinnati, Ohio, native spent 24 years in the MLB. From 1963 to 1986, he broke several of the league’s records, including most career hits with 4,256, most career at-bats with 14,053, most plate appearances, and most games played.
For the majority of his 24 years, he was a perennial All-Star. While he spent some time in his late-thirties and early-forties in Philadelphia and Montreal, his glory years were in Cincinnati, where he briefly returned for his final years.
Rose was a Rookie of the Year, an MVP, a three-time World Series champion, a two-time Gold Glove winner, a Silver Slugger, and a World Series MVP. His combination of skill and longevity is something people clamor for. But the 17-time All-Star’s gambling habit put a damper on all of this for decades.
Rose’s downfall in the MLB
Rose allegedly bet about $10,000 in at least 52 games in 1987, despite being the Reds’ manager. Betting and sports often go hand in hand. But as time passed, leagues began to crack down on those involved in gambling. It could theoretically cause them to throw games or value wagers over team success.
Decades removed from when this practice was a mainstay, Rose was the highest-profile face of a gambling scandal. (At least since “Shoeless” Joe Jackson and the rest of the White Sox in the 1919 scandal.)
Rose got caught gambling as a manager. But many suspected he gambled on games he played in since the ’70s. Rose proclaimed his innocence, but the world of baseball never forgave him. Not only did the Hall of Fame snub him, but the MLB wants nothing to do with him. Notably, this is true even as those involved in the steroid scandal get jobs around the league.
Rose finally came clean in 2004. He stated that he did, in fact, bet on Reds games, but he always bet on a win, never losses. This was not enough. To this day, Rose is banned from associating with the MLB past some honors from the Reds. He’s done occasional publicity gigs, like his stint as manager of the Bridgeport Bluefish in the ever-gimmicky Atlantic League. But he remains a black sheep.
Does Rose still gamble?
One might suspect that Rose’s downfall would put a damper on his gambling. According to his ex-wife, however, he still has a major gambling problem. According to USA Today, Rose’s ex, Carol, alleged that the baseball great still gambled much of his reported $1 million in earnings as he failed to offer support for her and their family.
Rose has long speculated that his ban has cost him $100 million in earnings. If he’s still gambling away the money he gets from publicity stunts and other business holdings, as his wife alleges, then the issue may still be getting the best of him.
Rose’s image won’t likely ever recover. However, his story serves as a warning to anyone who might think about following in his footsteps.