Rose Admits His Problem With Betting : Gambling: Former Cincinnati manager says he is getting psychiatric help, but continues to deny he bet on baseball.

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Pete Rose admits now that he has a gambling problem and says he is getting psychiatric help, but he still steadfastly denies that he ever bet on baseball.

Rose appeared on the “Donahue” show at the NBC studios in Burbank Wednesday, his first such appearance since being banned from baseball in August. The show was televised live in Los Angeles at 3 p.m., was shown at 10 p.m., EST, in Cincinnati and will be televised at various times in 200 other markets today.

Host Phil Donahue, before introducing Rose, opened by reading a statement that Donahue was handed shortly before air time by the former manager of the Cincinnati Reds and the all-time hitting record-holder.


“After I was suspended from baseball on Aug. 24, I decided to see a psychiatrist because of the many accusations made in recent months that I have a gambling problem,” the statement read.

“Since then, I have come to learn and accept the fact that I do have a problem related to gambling--what my doctor, James Randolph Hillard of the University of Cincinnati Medical School, calls a gambling disorder--and I am getting treatment.”

Rose later said he began treatment in mid-September and is going to sessions twice a week.

He said he never thought he had a gambling problem because he didn’t bet every day.

“An alcoholic may go weeks without drinking, then go on a binge,” Rose said. “I guess I have that kind of problem with gambling.”

In the statement, Rose said: “Losing baseball was the worst thing that ever happened to me, and it made me look at things differently.

“I’m really lucky because I never hit bottom, the way some people do. I still have the love and support of my family, I still have my health and I’m financially secure.

“I’ve been talking a lot with (wife) Carol and my older kids, and they’re going to help me get through treatment. I know I can’t gamble on anything anymore, because I can’t control it.


“How did it happen? Why did I deny it for so long?

“I’ve got a lot of energy, and sitting around just watching sports didn’t do it for me. I had to have the extra thrill of putting down a bet so I could enjoy a horse race or a football game, and over the years, I lost control of my betting.

“During the baseball season, I had the excitement of being in the game, so I didn’t need to gamble on baseball. Dr. Hillard has told me it’s not unusual for a person with a gambling disorder to bet on a few things.

“I thought that since I only gambled on a couple of things, and I could afford it, I didn’t have a problem.

“When I lost baseball, though, because of the things gambling made me do, like betting with bookies, I realized I had a problem.

“I swear I didn’t bet on baseball. I didn’t need or want any bigger kick than being in the game I love.”

It was on this point that Donahue hammered Rose, a longtime friend, the hardest.

Donahue brought out three betting slips that were part of the 225-page report compiled by baseball’s special investigator, John Dowd. The betting slips were dated April 9, April 10 and Dec. 31, all 1987. Donahue singled out the slip of April 10, which showed Rose had made eight baseball bets, that handwriting experts said the writing was his, and that it contained his fingerprint.


Rose responded by saying the handwriting was a forgery.

“It’s printing, which is easier to forge,” he said.

As for the fingerprint, he said: “There is only one. Now, if I had written all over that slip, wouldn’t my prints be all over it?”

And, to strengthen his case, Rose pointed out that one of the bets was for Los Angeles at Houston, and both teams were off that day. He also said there was a bet for Cincinnati at Montreal, when Montreal actually played at Cincinnati that day.

“Don’t you think I would know where my own team was playing?” he asked.

In response to charges that he called bookmakers from the dugout, Rose said: “I never made no calls to no bookmakers.”

Said Donahue: “It’s just difficult to swallow, with this evidence, that you never bet on baseball. I believe you never made a decision on the playing that was remotely connected with betting. But it’s hard to believe you never bet on baseball.”

A member of the audience, Janet Lusk of Northridge, said: “You had a gambling addiction, and it’s just very hard to believe you would not bet on baseball, something you know very well.”

A number of others in the studio audience approached Lusk after the show and told her she had said exactly what they were thinking.


Donahue, appearing with Channel 4’s Fred Roggin after the show, admitted it was very difficult to believe Rose had never bet on baseball. “But maybe someday I’ll be in a position where I want people to believe me, even though it might be difficult to,” Donahue told Roggin.

Donahue was somewhat compassionate during the show, as well. “No one is going to hang anyone in the town square for gambling,” he told Rose. “People are forgiving. Why wouldn’t you just say, ‘Yes, I made a mistake, I bet on baseball, and I’m sorry.’ ”

Said Rose: “I’d be lying if I said that.”

Added Rose: “I know it’s hard to prove I didn’t bet on baseball.”

Donahue also asked Rose, “Why did you take the bullet and accept the ban from baseball and not continue to fight it?”

Rose said that he and the late commissioner, Bart Giamatti, had an agreement that he would not be accused of betting on baseball, and that Giamatti broke that agreement when he offered his personal opinion that Rose probably had bet on baseball. “I was not banned from baseball for betting on baseball,” Rose said. “I was banned for hanging out with undesirables and for betting with bookmakers.”

Rose also said he did not want to spend an additional $1 million on defending himself.

“But we’re talking about your soul here,” Donahue said.

Rose said he will apply for reinstatement but added, when asked if would ever wear a uniform again, “I’m not sure I want to.”

He added: “Let me explain. I’m very interested in being reinstated. I’m looking forward to that, being the model citizen that everyone wants. I’ve always worked with kids, worked with charities.


“As I sit here and talk to you, the most important thing in my life is not getting back into a baseball uniform. If I apply for reinstatement, it will be for one reason and one reason only--I want to go to the Hall of Fame.”

Baseball spokesman Rich Levin said that Commissioner Fay Vincent had no comment on Rose’s treatment.

Rose will also appear with Barbara Walters Friday night on ABC.

Rose’s book, “Pete Rose: My Story,” written with Roger Kahn, has just been released.

Rose said he never admits to his gambling problem in his book because it was completed Sept. 1, and he didn’t begin treatment until a few weeks later.

Donahue, meeting with reporters before the show, said that Rose was not paid for his appearance, and repeated that statement during the show.

Donahue said he has known Rose since the early 1960s.

“I was doing a radio talk show in Dayton (Ohio), and Rose would drive his Corvette up to Dayton to be on my show,” Donahue said.

“Also, we were there when Rose broke the record (reaching 4,192 hits in 1985).”

The next day, Donahue’s show originated from the Riverfront Coliseum in Cincinnati with a capacity crowd on hand.


Donahue said his people had been negotiating to get Rose on as a guest ever since his banishment in August. Rose agreed to the appearance a couple of weeks ago.

Donahue began doing his shows from Burbank this week, temporarily.

Rose also came to the NBC studios Wednesday with a statement from Hillard. In part, it read:

“Pete and I have concluded that he does, in fact, suffer from a clinically significant gambling disorder. He has concluded that he is powerless before gambling, that he will begin an ongoing treatment program, and that he can never again gamble on anything.”

Rose said he hasn’t placed a bet in several weeks and has no intention of going back to the track.

“I think it’s difficult, but I have to work hard to overcome it because I just don’t want to take a chance of bottoming out the other way,” he said. “I guess you could look at me as sort of a guy that got a warning by having a heart attack and got better; hopefully, not the type of guy who had a heart attack and didn’t wake up. . . . I guess it was a blessing in disguise the way it turned out.”

After his ban, Rose said, he went to race tracks a few times and made small wagers. Even when he started seeing Hillard, Rose was still not convinced that gambling was a problem. “Probably the first two or three times I met with him, I didn’t think I did (have a problem),” he said. “And the more we met, the more we talked, the more you realize that you do. . . . Now I have to eliminate it completely. And I’m doing pretty good, but I have to keep on it.”


He plans to spend the winter at his home in Plant City, Fla., the Reds’ spring training site, with Carol and their two children, who are 5 and two months. He has two older children, Fawn and Pete, from a previous marriage.

Donahue told reporters before the show that he had been asked to avoid only one topic. He did not say what that topic was, but after the show a spokeswoman for Donahue said it was womanizing.

Spokeswoman Karen Lippert said: “Pete’s feeling was that topic is dealt with thoroughly in his book and he didn’t have to get into that.”