After denying it for nearly 15 years, sports legend Pete Rose is admitting that he bet on baseball and on his own team while managing the Cincinnati Reds.
"I bet on baseball in 1987 and 1988," the baseball great told ABCNEWS' Charles Gibson in an interview on Primetime Thursday.
"That was my mistake, not coming clean a lot earlier," he said.
The revelation is also expected to be included in Rose's new autobiography published by Rodale, My Prison Without Bars, which is to be released the same day.
In his interview with Primetime, Rose says he bet on his own team, but never against it.
"I believed in my team. I knew my team. It never altered the way I tried to run the game," he said.
He says betting against his own team was the last thing he considered, "because I want to win every game."
And he also says he bet without taking into consideration how drastic the penalties would be, or believing he'd get caught. Rose was banned from baseball in 1989, a move that made him ineligible for the Hall of Fame.
"You don't think you're going to get caught," he said. He said he didn't think he was special, or above the law.
"I think what happens is you're, at the time, you're betting football and then, then what's after football is basketball … and obviously the next thing that follows is baseball. It's just a pattern that you got into."
The admission could open the door for Rose to be reinstated by Major League Baseball and voted into the Baseball Hall of Fame.
Over a three-decade career in baseball, Rose earned the nickname "Charlie Hustle" for his aggressive play and desire to win. He set dozens of records — including breaking Ty Cobb's record for the most hits ever. That achievement, on Sept. 11, 1985, earned him a nine-minute ovation.
But in 1989, reports emerged that Rose, then the Reds' manager, was gambling on baseball. After a six-month investigation by Major League Baseball, he agreed to leave baseball for life. Under the agreement, he would not have to admit or deny that he bet on Major League Baseball, and he could apply for reinstatement after a year.
Rose says he regrets lying to baseball officials in 1989. "People have to understand I wish this would have never happened," he said. "But I can't change it, it's happened. And sitting here in my position, you're just looking for a second chance."
He hopes to be reinstated by Major League Baseball now that he has admitted his past mistakes and insists he no longer gambles illegally. "The farthest thing from my mind right now is making a bet on anything," he said.
"When I look you in the eye and tell you that that phase of my life is gone and will never come back, I mean that with all the sincerity in the world. I owe baseball. Baseball don't owe me a damn thing."
‘Time to Take Responsibility’
Asked why he finally decide to admit he bet on baseball, Rose said, "It's time to clean the slate, it's time to take responsibility … I'm 14 years late."
Rose told Gibson he took so long to make his admission because he "never had the opportunity to tell anybody that was going to help me."
The baseball commissioner at the time, Bart Giamatti, died just a week after banning Rose.
"I couldn't get a response from baseball for 12 years. It's like I died and, and they knew I died and they didn't want to bring me back. They were just going to let me rot," said Rose.
Rose formally applied to be reinstated in 1997 and finally got his chance to plead his case in November 2002, revealing the truth in a meeting with commissioner Bud Selig, in Milwaukee.
"The only guy I could confess to that would help me was the commissioner of baseball," he said. "And it took me all these years to get face to face."
Rose says that even after he admitted to Selig that he had bet on baseball, the commissioner didn't tell him that he was going to be reinstated.
Nevertheless, he says he came away from the meeting with a good feeling: "I took this million-pound weight off my shoulders." But he also says he got no guarantees. "I can be sitting out on a limb for the next 20 years."
Even today, Rose still disputes some of the most damning evidence against him — such as phone records that suggest he placed bets from the clubhouse.
"Pete Rose would go into the clubhouse at 7:10 and then call the bookie," said Vincent. "Now, we knew it was the bookie because we had the number, we had the operator's name and we also confirmed with the bookie that that's when Rose called him."
But Rose insists that never happened. "I never picked up my phone and called a bookmaker and bet on a baseball game from the clubhouse. Never," he said.
Vincent thinks Rose is still holding out. "I don't think he's coming clean and that's too bad … I think Pete would have been so much and still would be much better advised to tell everything he knows," he said. "Why is he holding back? … There's no mileage in that."
How Bad Does He Want It?
Rose's friend and fellow former Major Leaguer Mike Schmidt supports Rose's reinstatement into baseball and the Hall of Fame.
He helped set up the 2002 meeting between Rose and Selig, and says Rose is truly remorseful. But Schmidt also worries Rose is sending the wrong message with some of his actions.
"I said, 'Pete, look, if you're going to get, become reinstated into baseball, the next day, you can't be at the sports book … You can't be at the track. You being in gambling environments is not good. Baseball wants to see you out of there,'" he said.
Rose recently bought part ownership in a race horse in California, and admits he spends time at the track and still bets on horse racing.
But he is adamant that he has kicked his gambling habit. "I'm not going to go back to gambling, I mean, it's as simple as that," he said. "If the commissioner would ever give me a second chance there, there is no way I could let him down."
Rose has been cheered when he's appeared in front of fans in recent years, and says he thinks he has the fans behind him. "I think the powers that be in baseball understand that hey, maybe the fans like this guy. Maybe the fans want, want us to give him a second chance."
There's little doubt Rose wants to get back into baseball, even manage his hometown team, the Reds. "I watch every game every night that I can. And it drives me crazy, like, when I put the Reds on, and there's 20,000 empty seats," he said. "I want them to be like the Cubs, or like the Yankees, or like Boston."
Rose will also appear live on Good Morning America on Friday.