Excerpt: 'My Prison Without Bars'

I had 6 hours before I was required to surrender to the authorities at Marion — a 5-hour drive from Cincinnati. The word "surrender" was never part of my vocabulary but ever since that day in Judge Spiegel's courtroom, the prison sentence had been hanging over my head like that "shadow" I mentioned earlier. But in some strange way, I was eager to get on with the challenge. As we drove down I-75, I caught a glimpse of Riverfront Stadium along "Pete Rose Way" — a sight that … well, you can just imagine how that sight made me feel. Hell, they should've named an alley after me based on the things I'd done.

The Queen City, which had been my oyster for 30 years, never felt so lonely. As we crossed the Ohio River, I settled into my seat and took a little nap. I didn't wake up until we passed through Louisville, where, contrary to published reports, I did not stop to bet on the ponies at Churchill Downs.

Within a few hours, I caught a glimpse of a huge concrete structure with cinderblock walls and barbed wire fence — the U.S. Penitentiary in Marion. So, without fanfare or media attention, I said my good-byes and surrendered to the authorities, who would take control of my life for the next 5 months. I was immediately taken to a holding area to await "orientation." Some reporters called this place a "country club." But let me tell you, when they take your freedom, there is nothing scarier in the whole world. The sound of iron bars closing at the main prison damn sure caught my attention — a sound that caused me to ask myself a question: "How did I get here?"

Excerpted with permission from My Prison Without Bars by Pete Rose. Copyright, January 2004, Rodale Press.

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