Excerpt: 'My Prison Without Bars'

After more than a decade of denials, Pete Rose admits that he bet on baseball and on the Cincinnati Reds when he was managing the team. The revelations are laid out in his new book My Prison Without Bars.

Here is an excerpt:


"When they take your freedom — there is nothing scarier in the whole world." —Pete Rose

Of the 17 baseball players who have been banned for life, none have ever been reinstated. But since I have seven major league and 12 National League records, you'll understand why I would like to add just one more "first" to my tally before I settle in for the big dirt-nap. Not that I think I deserve better than those other guys — I just love to win. I had only met Commissioner Bud Selig once before, but on November 24, 2002, Mike Schmidt and I stood in his office in Milwaukee waiting for a meeting that I hope will bring me back to baseball. Actually, I wasn't sitting. I was pacing. I'm what you call a "hyperactive" person, which means I can't sit still for any length of time. I was pacing back and forth, thinking about how to talk about something that I had kept secret for 13 years — hell, longer than that. I don't know why the Commissioner agreed to reconsider my case. Perhaps he thought it was time to mix justice with mercy and some good old common sense. Maybe he was struck by the endless chants of "Let Pete in" at the 2002 World Series where I appeared on the MasterCard All Century Team. Maybe he thought that after 13 years, the so-called deterrent value of punishment was firmly in place. I did know what Mr. Selig wanted to hear but didn't know how he would react after he heard it. Finally, my friend and Hall of Famer Mike Schmidt got frustrated by watching me wear out the carpet and offered some words of encouragement: "Look at all these photos, Pete," he said. "Just about every Hall of Famer in baseball is hanging on these walls and Pete Rose has more hits than any of them. Mickey Mantle's dead. Jackie Robinson's dead. Joe DiMaggio, Ted Williams, Satchel Paige, and Babe Ruth — all gone. You're one of the last men standing from the old regime.

So just remember: Baseball needs Charlie Hustle." Most folks know that I'm not a warm-and-fuzzy guy. I don't pick up stray dogs or send thank-you cards, and I don't cry at weddings — unless it's one of my own. But I'll be damned if I wasn't a little bit moved by what Schmidt had to say. So hell, I took his advice. I started looking at the pictures and it took my mind off the business at hand. I looked at a picture of Willie Mays — the greatest player I ever saw. Then I looked at Sandy Koufax — who could throw a baseball through a goddamn carwash without getting it wet. And I looked at Hank Aaron — the man who broke Babe Ruth's home-run record.

I kept pacing until finally I came face-to-face with another familiar face —Ty Cobb, and you can imagine what that reminded me of.

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