Pete Rose spent another day surrounded by cameras and guards and questions, but Wednesday night there were indications that his third day of twisting in the wind would be his last.
Commissioner Peter Ueberroth is expected to make a statement about Rose today, and barring a last-minute development, the manager of the Cincinnati Reds likely will be suspended for at least a year.
He is accused of gambling and associating with gamblers, and as the scandal has unfolded there have been revealing stories about both his debts (huge) and his relationship with his children (distant).
Owner Marge Schott of the Reds said Wednesday by telephone from Cincinnati that she is in contact with Ueberroth’s office and has not been told what he will decide. She denied published reports that she might fire Rose.
“I don’t know what will happen, but I want him to win a World Series for me,” Schott said. “We have a good relationship. We have the same hometown. We’re dealing with a hero here. But at the same time, I told the commissioner’s office, ‘We don’t need this in baseball.’ ”
A decision by Ueberroth would end three nervous days for the Reds that began late Monday when major league baseball issued a mysterious announcement that Rose was being investigated for “serious allegations.”
Since then, his life has been one of minicams and tape recorders and photographers. A television crew interrupted his breakfast at a local restaurant Wednesday, and armed guards accompanied him through much of his day.
When he took the two-minute stroll to the dugout at Plant City Stadium Wednesday afternoon, he had a policeman on either shoulder. He had crews of minicams behind him. He had a middle-aged woman leaning over a dugout rail yelling, “Hang in there, Pete.” He had dozens of fans offering applause or cheers or other words of encouragement.
For his part, he smiled and motioned toward his entourage. “Me and my shadows,” he began to sing.
Later, in a more private aside, he said, “I feel like a fresh piece of meat.”
Six Red pitchers made fun of the situation, putting pieces of tape with the word, “Press,” on their caps.
After a day when he walled himself off from much of the outside world, Rose returned Wednesday, sitting in the dugout and answering questions for an hour before a 7-6 exhibition loss to the St. Louis Cardinals.
Already the subject of an investigation of “serious allegations” by major league baseball, he was hit full bore with several embarrassing and serious charges this week.
The most serious is that he bet on major league baseball games, and even if nothing else is found to be true that would get him a one-year suspension. If it’s found he bet on games involving his Reds, he’ll be barred for life.
There was more. The Dayton Daily News reported that a federal grand jury will call him to answer questions about illegal gambling and tax evasion.
The newspaper reported that Rose had sold the bat and ball from his record-breaking 4,192nd hit to a Cincinnati collector for $175,000. A Corvette, a gift from Schott that bore the license plates “PR4192,” was also sold.
The newspaper also said he had taken out a second mortgage for $150,000 on his home in the exclusive Indian Hill section of Cincinnati.
The New York Post said in Wednesday’s editions that Rose’s activities have the attention of the Internal Revenue Service, plus the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Cincinnati police. The New York newspaper quoted an unnamed source as saying Cincinnati police estimate the Red manager owes bookmakers between $500,000 and $750,000. WLWT-TV in Cincinnati said it spoke with Michael Fry, who was tied to Rose’s gambling in a Sports Illustrated story this week. The station said that Fry, who is serving a prison term for cocaine trafficking and income-tax evasion, said that Rose bet up to $40,000 on football weekends.
At the same time that news reports were describing his gambling debts and alleged financial problems, the April issue of “Gentleman’s Quarterly” presents an unflattering portrait of his private life, saying he barely has time for his children.
When asked about being described as a bad father, he said Wednesday, “What are you talking about? I’m a great father. I bought my daughter a Mercedes Benz last year. Those statements were probably made 10 years ago. My son just spent 15 days with me, and we were together 20 hours a day.”