Anyone who follows baseball has heard of the name Pete Rose. The former Cincinnati Reds slugger and manager is one of the most famous, or notorious, players in the history of baseball. Equally known for his spectacular talent as a player –his 4,192nd career hit, made 30 years ago next month, earned him the all-time hit record, which still stands to this day—and his public humiliation when it was discovered that he engaged in illegal sports betting during his managerial career, Rose is a larger-than-life figure who elicits adoration and outrage alike among baseball fans.
John Dowd was the investigator who authored the report summarizing findings pertaining to Rose’s betting on baseball games. Despite the fact that “no evidence was discovered that Rose bet against the Reds,” the Dowd Report resulted in Rose getting a lifetime ban from the sport in 1989. Since then, devoted fans of the Hit King have protested the ruling, and in recent years, it appeared that they were making headway in getting the ban lifted, which would presumably earn Rose well-deserved recognition in the Major League Baseball Hall of Fame. At the recent 2015 All Star Games, which took place in Rose’s beloved Cincinnati, Ohio, Rose received a standing ovation as he stepped on the field as one of the fan-elected Franchise Four, alongside Hall of Famers Johnny Bench, Barry Larkin, and Joe Morgan. It appeared things might be turning around for the 74-year-old legend.
A recently surfaced interview, however, threatens to overturn any progress Rose and his supporters have made to get him back into the game. Speaking on West Chester radio station WCHE on July 13th, Dowd stated that during his investigation of Rose’s gambling accusations, he was informed that Rose had engaged in sexual acts with girls as young as 12. According to Dowd, this information came from one of Rose’s close associates, Michael Bertolini, who was also purportedly involved with Rose’s sports betting.
Pete Rose vehemently denied the accusations. In an interview with NJ Advance Media, he expressed disbelief and outrage at Dowd’s claims. “Oh, my goodness! Where was my family all of this time in spring training? I never went to spring training without my family except for my first year when I was a rookie … I don’t know why anybody would believe that. It’s unbelievable. That’s the best one so far.”
Rose’s attorney, Ray Genco, also emailed NJ.com to deny Rose’s involvement in any such scandal. “… The statements were malicious, untrue and are categorically denied. They impact Pete’s family and I respect his instinct to immediately protect them.”
Rose was already scheduled to have a hearing before Major League Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred in August to make his case for reinstatement. Manfred, who has stated previously that he is “committed” to allowing Rose to present his side of the story, is reportedly already looking into these newest allegations.
At this time, Dowd’s claims have not been backed up by any evidence. But hearsay alone can destroy a person’s reputation, and Dowd’s statements –whether fact or fiction—may irreparably harm Rose’s chances of ever being reinstated or inducted into the Hall of Fame.