The Pete Rose Hall-of-Fame Controversy

© 1997-2002 by the Cosmic Baseball Research Alliance


March 2007 Update: Rose Confesses


Pete Rose's Baseball Record

Did Rose Bet On Baseball?

Is it Time to Forgive Pete Rose?

An Editorial

Personal Cosmic Game: Rosebuds vs 1963 Reds

Pete Rose Outer Links
(Updated 11/27/99)


On March 14, 2007 during a sports radio program, Pete Rose admitted to betting on baseball games while he was a manager in the 1980s.

"I bet on my team to win every night because I love my team...I made a big mistake. It's my fault, It's nobody's else's fault..."

Pete Rose
in 1963

Rose's 1963
Rookie Card

Rose holding 1963
NL Rookie Trophy

Bart Giamatti
Baseball Commissioner 1989

Tommy Gioiosa

Paul Janszen

Ron Peters

Jimmy Carter

Pete Rose's
Mother and Father


Any player on Baseball's ineligible list shall not be eligible for the Hall of Fame

Hall of Fame Rule 3e

Peter Edward Rose was placed on Baseball's ineligible list in 1989 when Commissioner of Baseball A. Bartlett Giamatti concluded that Rose had bet on baseball games, including games involving his own team, the Cincinnati Reds.

In an agreement made with Baseball, Rose accepted his de facto banishment from the sport. But Rose did not admit to having gambled on baseball games.

Nothing in this agreement shall be deemed either an admission or a denial by Peter Edward Rose of the allegation that he bet on any major-league baseball game

from the Rose-Major League Baseball Agreement, 1989

According to the current version of Baseball's rules, Rose can become eligible for the Hall of Fame by getting off the banishment list. Although no one in the history of the sport has been able to get off the list, Rose can petition Baseball's powers-that-be to be removed. Once he's off the list, he can be considered for the Hall of Fame. Apparently, Rose's remaining goal in life is to get into the Hall of Fame.

Voting shall be based upon the player's record, playing ability, integrity, sportsmanship, character, and contributions to the team(s) on which the player played.

Hall of Fame Rule 5

Rule 5 designates six general areas that voting members should keep in mind when considering who to put into the Hall of Fame. But to be honest, integrity and character considerations count for less than record and playing ability. The Pete Rose Controversy speaks directly to Baseball's difficulty and hypocrisy with regard to "character" and "integrity" issues.

As Joe Posanski, a reporter for The Cincinnati Post has pointed out in his article "The Hall of Fame Doesn't Smell Like a Rose", there are a number of Hall of Fame individuals who would rate low in the character and integrity areas, no matter how wide a berth we gave the concepts. The very unlikeable Ty Cobb, the drinking and womanizing Babe Ruth, the umpire abusing John McGraw, the racist Cap Anson, cheaters like Gaylord Perry, the gambling Leo Durocher, these are just a few of the distinguished baseball players who by hook or by crook have found their way into the Hall of Fame.

Baseball should be honest with itself and delete the character and integrity requirements of Rule 5.

A growing concensus suggests that Pete Rose deserves to be in the Hall of Fame because of his baseball record, not because of his character. Rose might likely be a liar and he surely is a gambler. But he was a great baseball player. What's the point?

Pete Rose's Baseball Record

Pete Rose might very well hold the major league record for most records held by a major league player. In addition to having the most hits of all time he holds numerous other Major and National League records.

Pete Rose started playing professional baseball in 1960 with the minor league Geneva (NY) Red Legs and by 1963 he reached the Major Leagues as a rookie second baseman with the National League's Cincinnati Reds. Rose won the National League's Rookie of the Year Award for 1963.

Rose played 24 Major League seasons, most with the Reds (1963-1978, 1984-1986), but he also spent four seasons with the Philadelphia Phillies (1980-1983) and part of a season with the Montreal Expos (1984).

Rose's first Major League hit occured April 13, 1963 and more than 22 years later, on September 11, 1985 he broke one of the most unbreakable of all baseball feats: Ty Cobb's carrer hits record. Rose leads all of baseball with a total of 4,256 career hits. Both his first and record breaking hits were singles.

As a baseball player, Rose is the paradigm of the individual who made the very most of what he had. No question he is one of the sport's all-time great players.

Career Statistics
GamesAt BatsRunsHits2b3bHRRBIBBSOAVG

Career Records

*All-time Major League record for most career hits - 4,256

All-time Major League record for most games played - 3,562

All-time Major League record for most at bats - 14,053

All-time Major League record for most singles - 3,315

All-time Major League record for most total bases by a switch hitter - 5,752

All-time Major League record for most seasons of 200 or more hits - 10

All-time Major League record for most consecutive seasons of 100 or more hits - 23

All-time Major League record for most seasons of 600 or more at bats - 17

All-time Major League record for most seasons of 150 or more games - 17

All-time Major League record for most seasons of 100 or more games - 23

Only player in Major League history to play more than 500 games at five different positions

1st Base - 939
2nd Base - 628
3rd Base - 634
Left Field - 671
Right Field - 595

Major League record for playing most winning games - 1,972

All-time National League record for most years played - 24

All-time National League record for most consecutive years played - 24

All-time National League record for most career runs - 2,165

All-time National League record for most career doubles - 746

All-time National League record for most games 5 or more hits - 10

Modern National League record for longest consecutive game hitting streak - 44 (June 14 - July 31, 1978)

Modern National League record for most consecutive game hitting streaks of 20 or more games - 7

Did Pete Rose Bet On Baseball?

Rose denies that he ever bet on Major League baseball games.

Commissioner A. Bartlett Giamatti, representing the interests of Major League Baseball, didn't believe him. There is no absolute proof that Rose did bet on baseball games. There is, however, considerable circumstantial evidence that Rose did place bets on baseball games, including games involving the Cincinnati Reds.

Almost all of this indirect evidence is derived from former friends and associates of Pete Rose. This was a group of men, Rose's "fellaheen", that he first met in 1984 at a local gym in Cincinnati. This group of Rose associates were mostly men on the outside fringe of the sports world. Bodybuilders, they used steroids to make themselves physically big, and associated with a sports hero like Rose to perhaps make them feel even bigger.

There was Tommy Gioiosa, Donald Stenger, Mike Fry and later Paul Janszen. Through these associates Rose met and dealt with Ron Peters and Steve Chavashore, bookmakers who took Rose's bets. Gioiosa, Janszen and Peters have all claimed that Rose bet on baseball. Roger Kahn, a Rose biographer, calls them the "warbling felons". Gioiosa, Janszen and Peters each were convicted of felonies. Each were involved in illegal gambling, drug dealing (cocaine and steriods) and income tax evasion.

The question is, are these felons reliable sources of information about Rose? Despite having been close with Rose, Gioiosa and Janszen grew to resent their former baseball star friend.

Pete Rose met Tommy Gioiosa in Florida in 1978. Gioiosa and Rose became friends and Tommy moved to Cincinnati and lived with Rose and his family. Gioiosa's relationship to Rose has been described variously as friend, housemate, car washer, bet-placer, gopher and surrogate son.

It was Gioiosa who introduced Rose to the group of bodybuilders at the local Cincinnati gym where Gioiosa worked out. Among this group of men were the gym's owner owner Mike Fry, and Donald Stenger, a bodybuilder and former "Mr. Cincinnati". Stenger was a big advocate of steroids. He claimed that with steroids "you felt solid, you felt healthy, you sometimes felt a little aggressive."

Tommy Gioiosa was only 5' 5" but had bulked himself up with steroids so that he looked, according to an eye-witness, like a gorilla. For more than ten years, Tommy Gioiosa would be part of Pete Rose's personal life. Later, when Rose was implicated in sports gambling, he would name Gioiosa as the only person he gambled with, but never on baseball games.

There is no doubt that Gioiosa would be in a position to know if Rose had bet on baseball. In February 1990, after refusing to give a deposition to the baseball officials investigating Rose, and nearly six months after Rose's banishment, Gioiosa claimed on a Cincinnati television talk show that yes, Rose had bet on baseball games. By then, however, Gioiosa and Rose were no longer friends. Was Gioiosa telling the truth or was he being vindictive, paying Rose back for having taking advantage of him. Gioiosa claims that Rose frequently borrowed money from him but never paid it back.

Paul Janszen played a major role in Major League Baseball's investigation and subsequent banishment of Pete Rose. Tommy Gioiosa introduced Janszen to Pete Rose in October, 1986. Janszen, 16 years younger than Rose, would essentially replace Gioiosa as Rose's principal factotum. Observer's described Janszen, beginning in 1987, as Rose's "virtual shadow".

Janszen and his girlfriend Danita Marcum went with Rose and his family to Florida for the 1987 Spring Training season. During the 1987 baseball season, Janszen was a frequent visitor to Rose's manager's office at Riverfront Stadium.

In March 1988 Janszen was being investigated in connection with an FBI probe into drug dealing and income tax evasion. Members of the body building "fellaheen" were implicated and Janszen began cooperating with the investigators. Janszen also needed a lawyer and he needed to get back some of the more than $40,000 he had lent Rose over the past year. But Rose, according to Janszen would only pay back $10,000. The rest of the money, which Janszen felt Rose owed him would not be forthcoming.

Feeling betrayed by his one time sports hero friend, Janszen began answering questions about Pete Rose to the FBI investigators. Janszen pled guilty to a charge of income tax evasion and because of his cooperation he received a light sentence of six months in a halfway house. During this period he also talked to John Dowd who was leading major league baseball's investigation into Rose's gambling habits. In February 1989 Janszen told Dowd that Rose had bet on baseball games. Janszen also provided documentary evidence in the form of betting sheets that were written by Rose.

Another Pete Rose associate, Ron Peters also provided testimony to John Dowd. Peters was a Franklin, Ohio bookmaker who had taken Rose's bets first through Gioiosa and then from Janszen. Peters claimed that in 1987 Rose would sometimes bet up to $30,000 a day on various Major League baseball games. Peters was convicted of drug dealing and tax evasion, in part, because of the testimony of Paul Janszen. As an FBI informant, Janszen secretly taped conversations he had had with Peters.

Janszen's and Peter's testimony, deemed accurate by Dowd, formed the basis of the May 1989 report to commissioner Giamatti, known as the "Dowd Report". This report was released to the public in late June and it consisted of 225 pages and an additional 2000 pages of transcribed interviews, depositions, and documents. Janszen's testimony, combined with telehphone records, and the betting sheets all but convinced Commissioner Giamatti that Rose had indeed bet on baseball games. On page three of the report, the following paragraph appears:

The testimony and the documentary evidence gathered in the course of the investigation demonstrates that Pete Rose bet on baseball and in particular, on games of the Cincinnati Reds Baseball Club during the 1985, 1986 and 1987 seasons.

Dowd Report, page 3

In the Spring of 1989 Rose said: "I'm guilty of one thing in this whole mess, and that's I was a horseshit selector of friends."

Rose's take on the Dowd Report: "It was a hatchet job, a piece of crap."

Is Rose full of shit, or not? The question remains: Did he bet on baseball?

That Pete Rose is a gambler is a fact. Rose has admitted that he gambled. On November 8, 1989, two months after his banishment, he went on the Donahue TV talk show and told the world that he was a compulsive gambler and that he was now getting professional help. But he denied he had ever bet on major league baseball games. When a young woman from the audience asked how as a compulsive gambler he could restrain himself from betting on baseball games, Rose's reply was bizzare: "We'll take care of that problem after the show, honey."

That Rose associated with gamblers and drug dealers also seems abundantly clear. That Rose is obsessed with money comes with the territory. We might also, in our judgmental way and based on various published reports, conclude that Pete Rose's character and personal integrity leave something to be desired.

If you accept the conclusions of the Dowd Report and therefore the statements of Jenszen and Peters, both convicted felons, and you believe Tommy Gioiosa's claims, then there is good reason to believe that Rose bet on baseball. But Rose continues to deny it. Is Rose lying? What is the truth?

Betting on baseball is Baseball's cardinal sin. And it was because of this that Rose was banned from official Baseball.

The question is, if Rose did bet on baseball games, can he be forgiven for this transgression, and made eligible for the Hall of Fame?

Is It Time to forgive Pete Rose?

It's time to forgive Pete Rose

Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter, 1995

Rose has his supporters.

Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter published an article on October 30, 1995 entitled "It's Time to Forgive Pete Rose." On the important question of whether Rose bet on baseball, Carter wrote: " I find the testimony (mostly from convicted felons) about Pete Rose's betting on sports events to be convincing and disheartening, but evidence about specifically betting on baseball is less than compelling. " Carter notes Rose's vigorous denial of the charge. Carter supports giving Rose an "opportunity for redemption." for several reasons:

I absolutely believe that Pete Rose should be in the Hall of Fame. If you exclude Pete Rose you have to exclude many other people beginning with Babe Ruth and Ty Cobb, and others whose behavior would not stand the test of our current moral standards.

Ken Burns, "Baseball" Producer

Jim Murray, himself a Hall of Fame member, in the writers wing, and an esteemed sports columnist for the Los Angeles Times wrote a column July 18, 1996 supporting Rose's induction into the Hall of Fame despite his transgressions.
Did [Rose] bet on the game? Probably. Rose bet on the color of the next car coming down the street.

Jim Murray, Sportswriter

But Murray writes, "betting on games is hardly fixing games." He points out that the 1919 Black Sox were crooks, Rose is an addict. That's the difference between Shoeless Joe Jackson and Pete Rose, accroding to Murray.

Hall of Famer, Mike Schmidt, a former teammate of Rose's in Philadelphia thinks Rose should also be in the Hall. Schmidt said so publicly at his own induction ceremony in 1995. "I hope some day, some day soon, Pete Rose will be standing right here," Schmidt said. "I know you all agree with me on that. Pete stood for winning."

Former major league umpire Dave Pallone, on March 15, 1996 said "I don't know whether he bet on baseball or not, but he certainly has paid for any mistakes he may have made. He has admitted he has a gambling problem and baseball has given numerous chances to men with alcohol and drug sickness and they should allow Pete to come back." Ironically, Rose was suspended for 30-days in 1988 when he shoved Pallone during the ninth inning of a game between the Mets and the Reds. That incident notwithstanding, Pallone believes Rose deserves to be in the Hall of Fame.

I don't know if Pete Rose bet on baseball, but I know he was rail-roaded out of the game.

Roger Kahn, Rose Biographer

But Pete Rose also has his detractors.

If I ever got a vote into the Cooperstown cabal, I could never raise my hand for Ole' Pete Buddy. I don't give a hoot for no 4,200 hits. It just doesn't matter. Pete knew the rules better than anyone else in baseball history. He thumbed his nose at the rules and at baseball. This isn't the Joe Jackson myth---the regular small-town kinda guy who just wasn't smart enough to know what was going on. Pete knew the score; He said, 'fuck you, baseball. It just doesn't matter, I get in.' So, I say the same to him. Screw you, Pete Rose. The game, is so, bigger than you.

Michael Sokolove, a journalist, wrote Hustle: The Myth, Life and Lies of Pete Rose which provides an enormous amount of detail about Rose, including an exhaustive review of the evidence. Sokolove concludes that Rose bet on baseball. Sokolove points out that Rose continues to lie about it. Summing up Rose the man, Sokolove writes:

"[Rose] entered adulthood with one admirable value, his estimable work ethic toward his job: baseball. He gave his employer and the fans their money's worth. Other than that, Pete Rose was utterly without values. He was not a loyal friend, a faithful husband, a loving father, a giving person.

[Pete Rose] had no regard for rules that others had to live by, and no regard for telling the truth."

Michael Sokolove
Hustle: The Myth, Life and Lies of Pete Rose

Commissioner Giamatti banned Rose from Baseball because he believed that Rose had broken the cardinal rule of Baseball and had bet on baseball games. The day after banning Rose, Giamatti held a press conference where he said:

The matter of Mr. Rose is now closed. It will be debated and discussed. Let no one think it did not hurt baseball. The hurt will pass, however, as the great glory of the game asserts itself and a resilient institution goes forward. Let it also be clear that no individual is superior to the game. (Italics added).

The winner has to be baseball. The winner can't be any individual.

Johnny Bench, former Rose teammate


Pete Rose the baseball player deserves to be in the Hall of Fame. His official playing record makes that clear. Pete Rose, the man, well, he lacks character and integrity, so the player gets in, the man is banned.

It's not that simple. We believe Pete Rose did bring dishonor to the game he excelled at and we believe in all likelihood that Rose's gambling compulsion led him to violate the cardinal rule of baseball which is you don't bet on baseball games. We believe Pete Rose deserves to be in the Hall of Fame. In order to make room for Pete Rose in the Hall, Baseball must be honest with itself and admit that character is not an important criteria. Either because ethical relativism reigns supreme in our postmodern era or for other philosophical reasons, Baseball cannot be charged with questions of morality. Delete the character and integrity issues from Hall of Fame Rule 5, put Rose (and Joe Jackson) back on the eligible list and let the Baseball powers that be decide as they decided that Ty Cobb and Babe Ruth and Cap Anson and Gaylord Perry were worthy of the honor.

On the other hand, the Hall of Fame itself is in Cooperstown which is the mythical home of baseball. Perhaps it is not so ironic or incongruous that Pete Rose be in the Hall. I mean literally, perhaps Rose should be permanently incarcerated in the Hall of Fame. It's what he seems to care most about , as if getting into the Hall would make him whole again, a good player and a good man. Let the Hall become Rose's own personal Hell of Fame. Let Pete understand how discorporated one becomes when the individual sacrifices the team instead of himself. Shouldn't a Cincinnati Red understand that the collective is more important than the individual?

But is this true? Isn't Pete Rose's transgression simply arrogance? Won't we make exceptions to our rules when confronted with great talent, won't the boundaries be extended to account for the individual that stands apart. We really do want it that way, that's why the star and superstar system works.

Of course Rose belongs in Baseball's Hall of Fame. And he'll get there when Baseball's powers-that-be stop taking themselves so seriously.

If you want morality, read Plato and Aristotle. If you want poetry, watch baseball.

--Andrew Lampert
for the Cosmic Baseball Association

Outer Links

Personal Cosmic Game: Rosebuds vs 1963 Reds

This is a link to a Personal Cosmic Game report. The Rosebuds consisting of friends and former associates of Pete Rose, take on Pete and the 1963 Cincinnati Reds. .

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Vol. 16 Contents

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Pete Rose-Hall of Fame Controversy
Published: May 10, 1997
Banner: December 22, 1998
JCBA Vol. 16: November 25, 1997
Revisions:Updated: 5/20/97; 7/15/97; 10/31/97; 11/27/99; 4/28/2001; 12/16/2002; 3/14/2007

Copyright © 1999 by the Cosmic Baseball Association