In the latest chapter of a nearly three-decade saga, ESPN's "Outside the Lines" reported Monday that Pete Rose bet on Cincinnati Reds games while he was still a player for the team, directly contradicting previous statements Rose has made that he only placed bets as a manager.
Documents leaked in the report show that "on 21 of the days it's clear [Rose] bet on baseball, he gambled on the Reds, including on games in which he played."
The documents also provide a window into Rose's gambling habits. Rose's bets usually were $2,000 per game and were mostly on baseball. One exception was the $5,500 bet he placed on the Boston Celtics which he lost.
Fay Vincent, who took over as MLB commissioner following the death of A. Bartlett Giamatti, has been a vocal proponent of maintaining the lifetime ban MLB announced in 1989 after the release of investigator John Dowd's findings.
"The evidence is overwhelming," Vincent said. "We're still trying to pin down how many times he bet on the Reds, how many times he bet when he was with the Phillies-the answer is it's all in the Dowd Report. There's nothing new. Rose has lied over and over."
Vincent's assertion matches up with the views of two longtime Cincinnati Enquirer journalists -John Erardi and Paul Daugherty. Both reporters say it's common knowledge in gambling circles and those involved in the Dowd investigation that Rose bet on Reds games as a player.
"I don't think it's shocking," Erardi added. "John Dowd said this in 1989 under oath in Hamilton County Court here in Cincinnati."
The ESPN report did provide irrefutable written proof of what many had suspected. In response, Rose issued a statement to "Outside the Lines" in which he stated, in part: "I'm eager to sit down with [MLB commissioner Rob] Manfred to address my entire history - the good and the bad - and my long personal journey since baseball. That meeting likely will come sometime after the All-Star break."
The All-Star break presents an immediate dilemma for Rose and the Reds, because the game is being held in Cincinnati on July 14. Rose was expected to be recognized in some capacity, but that's now in limbo.
"It was always going to be about Pete Rose because he's our native son and he's our greatest player," Erardi said. "This changes the story a little bit, because it's just one more piece of evidence that buries him."
The timing of the leaked documents-which are sealed in New York-isn't lost on Daugherty. Though he's careful to point out that he has no proof, he wouldn't be surprised if higher ups in MLB were behind the story coming out now, shortly before the All-Star break and Rose's meeting with the commissioner.
"This is just my personal opinion: I really believe that baseball had something to do with this," Daugherty said. "I don't think there's any way Manfred reinstates him now. I didn't think that there was much of a chance that he reinstated him before. But this makes it easy for him and it also makes it a decision that's palatable to everybody."
Rose's saving grace-even as he stares down another damning piece of evidence-is that it's never been proven he bet against the Reds.
"This isn't the dagger in the heart," Erardi said. "The dagger in the heart would be that he bet against his team. If he did that, then everything would be over. I don't think his case is completely dead until that happens."