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Monday, November 18, 2002

You Can Bet on Baseball for a Steak Dinner

How Pete Rose once got the better of Sparky Anderson.

Pete Rose, the most prolific hitter in baseball history, accumulated 4,256 hits in his life-time and unquestionably, produced Hall of Fame numbers. Rose, however, was banned from baseball in 1989 for allegedly gambling on baseball. Although significant circumstantial evidence suggests that Rose bet on baseball, Rose has always has denied these allegations, arguing that no real evidence has ever surfaced which makes it clear that he did indeed bet on baseball.

It is possible, however, that certain incriminating evidence has been tucked away in forgotten sources for decades. Well, that depends on whether betting on baseball for a steak dinner amounts to "gambling," as viewed by Major League Baseball.

Recently, I came across a story that appeared in the Sporting News, April 3, 1971, written by Earl Lawson, that indicates that Rose and Sparky Anderson engaged in some type of gambling back in 1971. The article quotes Anderson as saying "I had bet Pete Rose a steak dinner he wouldn’t get a hit in his first time at bat," in his first appearance in a Grapefruit League game in the Spring of 1971.

The Pirates pitcher, Bruce Dal Canton, threw three consecutive balls to Rose to open the count to 3-0. Rose stepped out of the batter’s box and shouted to Anderson, "The bet’s off if I walk." Anderson is then quoted as saying "You know Pete . . . He never likes to lose. He’s protecting his bet." On the fourth pitch, in classic Charlie Hustle style, the determined and confident Rose drilled a shot to center field for a single. Thereafter, Rose informed Anderson, "I want that steak dinner paid for from out of your pocket. None of that expense account stuff."

In 1989, Major League Baseball unleashed the most comprehensive investigation in the league’s history, in an effort to determine if Rose bet on baseball. John Dowd, a lawyer in Washington, D.C. was appointed special counsel for Commissioners Peter Ueberroth and A. Bartlett Giamatti. Dowd wrote in his report that "etting on baseball by a participant of the game is corrupt because it erodes and destroys the integrity of the game of baseball. Betting also exposes the game to the influence of forces who seek to control the game to their own ends. Betting on one’s own team gives rise to the ultimate conflict of interest in which the individual player/bettor places his personal financial interest above the interests of the team. "

On August 24th, Bart Giamatti stated the chilling words that banned Rose from the game for life:

"In the absence of a hearing and therefore in the absence of evidence to the contrary . . . I am confronted by the factual record of Mr. Dowd. On the basis of that, yes, I have concluded he bet on baseball."

Rose and Anderson were two critical components of the Big Red Machine dynasty that was thoroughly enjoyed by the City of Cincinnati in the 1970s. Recently, Sparky Anderson, was inducted into the Hall of Fame, while Rose remains standing outside the Hall looking in.

Assuming that Lawson correctly quoted Anderson and Rose in the 1971 article, and there is no apparent reason to doubt its truth, does this mean that (A) Rose has not been telling the truth about betting on baseball, (B) Anderson was wrongfully inducted into the Hall of Fame, (C) that you can bet on baseball as long as it’s for a steak dinner, or (D) some combination of the foregoing?

Stephen Jordan is a lawyer, writer, and artist and has published many articles for various publications and websites, including the Sporting News.  In addition, Jordan has created artwork for many periodicals, newspapers, websites, and for sports organizations, including the Boston Red Sox.  Signed prints of his artwork are currently offered on eBay. To view Jordan’s art, search “Fenway Art Print” at, then click on “seller’s other auctions” for all auctions offered by “Catfish326”.  For any information concerning Jordan’s art feel free to e-mail him at or   


Stephen Jordan Posted: November 18, 2002 at 05:00 AM | 6 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
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   1. fracas' hope springs eternal Posted: November 18, 2002 at 01:04 AM (#607282)
Nice molehill. I don't believe spring training exhibitions are covered under Rule 21, as they are not part of a "league championship" season. Also:

On August 24th, Bart Giamatti stated the chilling words that banned Rose from the game for life:

"In the absence of a hearing and therefore in the absence of evidence to the contrary . . . I am confronted by the factual record of Mr. Dowd. On the basis of that, yes, I have concluded he bet on baseball."

Umm, no. The written agreement (which Rose and Giamatti signed) placed Rose on the "Permanently Ineligible" list, although it also expressly gave Rose the right to apply for reinstatement after one year. The words above are Giamatti's controversial quote at the press conference afterwards. Controversial because the written agreement expressly avoided a finding that Rose bet on baseball, but the quote makes it appear that Giamatti reached such a finding and agreed not to put it in writing.
   2. fracas' hope springs eternal Posted: November 19, 2002 at 01:05 AM (#607304)
I think you're missing the tone of the piece. It's supposed to be a light-hearted story about Rose and Sparky, not an argument for banning Rose.

Guilty. I forgot that we could be lighthearted on the subject of (depending on whose side you're on) damaging the integrity of the game, or destroying a man's reputation and livelihood. In all seriousness, we can, and by now we probably should.

Are you saying that baseball players and coaches can freely bet on spring training games, without jeopardizing the integrity of game...

Yes. Games which don't count in the standings and are played for "guys to get their work in" don't affect the integrity of the game.

...and without violating any of its governing rules?

I believe so, but I'll admit I haven't read the rules thoroughly on this point.

As to my comments on Giamatti's "chilling words" I pointed out that those words didn't ban Rose, the written agreement did, and that Giamatti's quote went beyond that. I'm not defending anybody's use of the word "permanent."

Pete DuBois, the dividing line is clear to me: does the game count?
   3. fracas' hope springs eternal Posted: November 19, 2002 at 01:05 AM (#607312)
Count to whom? It certainly would count to those who bet.

If anyone bet on spring training games, sure. But they don't count in the W-L column which determines who wins pennants, divisions, and wild card berths.

Remember, there is a prohibition against ANY wagering in Rule 21.

I looked up Rule 21, and although I only found it by itself without context, I'll concede that it appears to prohibit any wagering, not just during the "league championship (i.e. regular)" season. You're right.

And even though it's a spring training game, it must count to someone in Baseball, because they keep score.

Right up until Opening Day, then they dump the spring stats and records. Face it, folks keep score for the same reason players play spring games, not because the games count, but for practice. They don't maintain those scores once the real season begins. Go to, or, or, and find me spring training scores or records from the 1971 Grapefruit League "season" referenced in the article.
   4. Stephen Jordan Posted: November 25, 2002 at 01:06 AM (#607401)
BigO: "If Rose was betting FOR his own team to win I think it raises the integrity of the game...what better motivation to do the right thing than to subject yourself to losing money."

The weight of the evidence against Rose suggests that he only bet for his team to win, yet, baseball still banned him from the game. Moreover, in the above situation in 1971, Rose was betting for himself to get a hit, but, Sparky bet against him.

   5. fracas' hope springs eternal Posted: November 25, 2002 at 01:06 AM (#607404)
The weight of the evidence against Rose suggests that he only bet for his team to win...

For more on why this is just as unacceptable as betting against one's team, see any of the many previous Pete Rose threads. I think Mastercard's "Memorable Moments" promotion during game 4 of this World Series gave rise to the most recent.

At the risk of oversimplifying: a) unless identical bets are placed on winning all 162 games there's a risk of unequal roster handling depending on whether there's money riding on the outcome. And b) any betting is likely to result in owing money to bookies, which raises the spectre of providing a "sure thing" (throwing a game) in exchange for wiping the slate clean.

And before you argue that either or both of these is unlikely, remember that even the appearance of skewed results risks massive damage to the game's popularity.
   6. Stephen Jordan Posted: May 16, 2003 at 02:06 AM (#610932)
SOMEONE DOESN'T KNOW: "Haven't you heard of the law against hearsay and how evidence from a witness where he says someone said something to him, specifically what is said is inadmissable as evidence?" JORDAN: I never said try and admit the Sporting News issue into evidence, whereby it is a reporter stating what he heard. Haven't you ever heard of calling a witness, in this case Sparky, to testify whether he bought him a steak dinner, and asking him why he bought him a steak dinner?

SOMEONE DOESN'T KNOW: "You sure you passed the bar?"
JORDAN: Yes, two of them.

SOMEONE DOESN'T KNOW: "Wow, are you sure you're a lawyer?"
JORDAN: You ought to be more careful, "Someone". You could find yourself up against a criminal complaint for trying to practice law without a license, a malpractice claim for providing bad advice, and a civil action for making defamatory statements.

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