We all know what happened to Pete Rose. Everyone knows the story of the Cincinnati Reds outfielder who had one of the greatest careers in baseball history, but who then was “caught” betting on baseball games while he was still playing. Many people believe that Rose’s betting career is what caused his retirement in 1989, as he was banned from baseball after he was caught. However, as it turns out, Rose did not entirely retire from baseball; he spent three more seasons playing and coaching in the minor leagues before officially hanging up his spikes.
At the time of his retirement, Rose was 44 years old, and he had already played 23 seasons in the major leagues. He spent his entire career with the Reds, and he holds numerous major league records, including most career home runs, runs batted in, and doubles. He was also part of two World Series championships, in 1972 and 1978. In total, Rose collected more than 3,600 hits in his career, and he had more than 2,800 RBI. He retired with 18,409 hits and 104,871 plate appearances. In the grand scheme of things, that is a pretty good baseball resume. Unfortunately, it did not last long, as Rose’s reputation soon preceded him. As soon as he retired, rumors began circulating that his alleged gambling activities were much more than just a rumor. Many people believe that Rose was indeed betting on baseball games while he was still playing, and it was this “habit” that caused his retirement in 1989. Although Rose vehemently denied the accusations, he was never able to shake the suspicion, as he eventually admitted to having an affair with sports betting (or “spieling” as it is sometimes called), that it was indeed his “calling” as a baseball player, and that he could not stop himself from taking part in the most popular wager of all time.
It is well known that Rose briefly coached the Reds in the 1980s after he retired. However, he was not officially registered as a coach with the Major League Baseball (MLB) organization until 1995. During that time, Rose did not coach baseball, but he did spend a lot of time in the batting cages, working with other former Major Leaguers to help them get ready for games. Many ex-players have gone on record as saying that, even though they did not realize it at the time, Rose tutored them in betting on baseball games. One of the first men to come forward and accuse Rose of being a professional gambler was none other than his former teammate, Joe Morgan. Morgan stated: “I think there is a good chance he was betting on baseball. A lot of guys knew that he was doing that and they talked about it. Maybe a few of them were with him when he placed the bets. I mean, it is very likely that he was coaching baseball and also betting on it.”
Other ex-players came forward to support Morgan’s claims. One of them was Frank Thomas. “I talked to him about it,” Thomas said. “I said, ‘Man, if you are doing that, then what is going on? You are no good to us.’ He said he was just helping players get ready for games and he was not doing anything else. But I knew that was a lie.” Interestingly, Thomas also said he did not think that Rose was the greatest athlete he ever played with. “He was a good enough basketball player to play at the college level,” the former MLB star said. “But I do not think he ever could have made it as a pro football player. That is just my opinion. I mean, he was a great athlete, but he was not a great football player.”
Was Pete Rose a Successful Gambler?
Forbes currently lists Rose at number 12 on their list of the top 20 richest retired athletes. It is interesting to note that Forbes did not rank Rose higher because of his reputation as a gambler, but because of his many business interests. Of course, Rose denies that he is a gambler, and he points out that Morgan and Thomas were also in the gaming industry, which makes their accusations dubious at best. He also suggests that their statements were simply a way to make money, as he is sure they have forgotten about the bad blood that existed between them even before they started talking about gambling. Still, it is hard not to wonder if Rose’s reputation was not entirely undeserved.
The truth is that we may never know if Pete Rose was, in fact, a professional gambler. What is known for sure is that he did bet on baseball games while he was still playing, and he was not shy about admitting it. In an interview with the New York Times, Rose said: “I have never denied it. If you want to be really honest about it, I was kind of a chameleon. It was not easy for me to admit that I was a gambler, so I played the role of a model baseball player.” In other words, Rose attempted to hide his true identity from the general public, as he did not want his sports betting to affect his good name. He was definitely successful in this regard, as his sports gambling career never came to light until years after his retirement. One can only assume that if Rose had been more open about his gambling activities, he would have been caught a long time ago. This is not meant to be a moral condemnation of Rose, but merely an observation about how effective he was at keeping a low profile while he was engaging in his “secret” hobby.
Possible Reasons for Rose’s Retired
In the end, we may never know for sure what caused Pete Rose’s retirement. What we do know for sure is that it had to do with his alleged involvement in sports gambling. However, it is possible that Rose’s gambling had something to do with other, deeper issues. In 2013, Rose released a book about his life, titled, Mainly About Baseball. In it, he discusses several subjects, including his gambling. One of the things he reveals in the book is that he began gambling after he retired because he was frustrated with himself. He felt that he had not been able to leave his mark on the game the way he wanted to, and he wanted to give himself one last chance. He wanted to bet on sports so that he could actually “win” money, as opposed to just losing it. The book also mentions that, as a child, Rose was a very competitive person. He felt that he could not keep up with his friends’ accomplishments as a result of his own lack of ability, and this made him sad. To cheer himself up, Rose began betting on baseball games, which turned into a “hobby” that he eventually became very good at. This is one of the main reasons why Rose is generally viewed as such a tragic figure. He retired before he was really able to make his mark on the game, and his personal life was a complete mess when he retired, as he was still deeply in debt from his gambling. It is worth noting that Rose did not officially retire from baseball until 1989, although it is generally accepted that he stopped playing professionally in that year. He continued to work with his friends in the minor leagues, helping them get ready for games. However, it is fair to say that when it came to his “calling”, Rose did not have much success in the post-baseball world. He did not land an official coaching job until 1995, and he did not get involved in any meaningful way with the Reds, or any other team, until a few years later. Even then, he only worked as a “mentor” to help former players get ready for games. It was not until 2001 that he was officially named an adviser to the club, and he was not actually allowed to coach until the 2004 season.