A published report says the authenticity of some items supposedly used by Cincinnati Reds Manager Pete Rose in significant moments of his career is questioned by prominent collectors of baseball memorabilia.
The Cincinnati Enquirer reported that more than one collector claims possession of the bat Rose used when he set the major league record with his 4,192nd base hit.
The baseball commissioner’s office said last week it is investigating serious allegations involving Rose but provided no details.
Sources with close ties to baseball and Rose have indicated the investigations concern alleged gambling by Rose. A Sports Illustrated report alleged that Rose bet on baseball, but the Plain Dealer in Cleveland reported Sunday that a Cincinnati police probe from 1978-83 indicated that Rose had bet on other sports but not on baseball.
As for the bat that Rose used for his record hit, collector Alan Rosen of Montvale, N.J., told the Enquirer that he was aware of five to 10 people who claim to have the bat. Rose has declined comment on the bat’s whereabouts.
Steve Wolter of Cincinnati, who purchased the automobile Rose received on the night of his record-breaking hit, reportedly paid $175,000 for a bat and ball said to have been used for Rose’s record-breaking hit. A woman who identified herself as Wolter’s wife has confirmed that they own such a bat, the newspaper said. The report did not say where the Wolters got the bat or from whom.
Rosen and another collector, Lew Lipset, told the Enquirer that Barry Halper, a leading New Jersey collector, also has a bat that he says was used on Sept. 11, 1985, for the record-breaking hit.
“I don’t know,” said Halper’s son, Steve, when asked whether his father owned the bat. “He has so many things.”
Lipset, of Centereach, N.Y., said he thought another bat represented as the one used to set the record was owned by Oregon collector Dennis Walker, whose collection disappeared after he died in 1987.
Rose was master of ceremonies at the 1985 opening of a sports museum which Walker ran in Medford, Ore.
Walker purchased a number of valuable items from Rose, including the diamond-studded Hickok belt Rose received as athlete of the year in 1975. Baseball Card News magazine said Walker owed Rose more than $70,000 when he died. The belt, valued at $30,000 at the time it was awarded, has not been located by authorities.
Rose wore several jerseys on the night of his record hit, and one newspaper photo taken that night shows him with three of the shirts.
Los Angeles memorabilia dealer Lou Castanza said he purchased a jersey from Rose’s hit No. 4,191 for $20,000, but backed out of bidding for the jersey for No. 4,192 because of his concerns about how many there might be.
Reds owner Marge Schott claims possession of one jersey Rose wore on the night he broke the hit record. Baseball Hall of Fame spokesman Bill Guilfoile said Rose’s attorney, Reuven Katz, promised to lend another to the hall.
Rose has said he would not discuss the allegations that he had placed bets on baseball.
“I’ll have my chance to talk,” he said. “Now my best comment is ‘no comment’ because no comment can help me right now.”
Meanwhile, the Plain Dealer reported that Cincinnati police investigations of Rose, from 1978-83, were prompted by tips from paid informants about Rose’s possible involvement in illegal gambling.
The investigations resulted in the conviction of six bookies but never uncovered evidence of wrongdoing by Rose, said Harold Mills, a retired police lieutenant who led the bookmaking probes and was the only detective who agreed to speak publicly about the matter.
“He (Rose) wasn’t involved; there was no connection other than the informants,” Mills said. “We did get the bookies. We started out after Rose, ended up with the bookies and never fooled around with the runners and bettors.”
Mills denied having treated Rose specially because of his popularity in Cincinnati.
“We gave him no slack,” Mills said. “There’s nobody that big.”