For many years following his suspension from Major League Baseball in 1989, Pete Rose did everything he could to publicly distance himself from sports betting.
Those days are over for the all-time hit king.
Celebrating his 80th birthday Wednesday, Rose announced a partnership with UPickTrade.com, the sports recommendation service that made headlines in February with a short-lived deal with the NHL’s Vegas Golden Knights. Rose will make daily picks — not just for baseball games, but for other sports as well — for subscribers to the Guadalajara, Mexico-based service. Rose-signed merchandise also plays into the partnership, with longer-term UPickTrade subscribers receiving baseballs and bats autographed by the retired baseball great.
“For me, it’s a whole lot better picking the games than betting on the games,” Rose told US Bets on Tuesday during a lengthy interview that will air in its entirety Thursday on the Gamble On podcast. “When you try to give people a reason to follow you picking games, you have to have a little knowledge about the games. … It’s kind of fun for me. You have to use your knowledge, you have to follow the sport.”
Rose noted that with games in the East starting as early as 9 a.m. some days in Las Vegas, where he lives, “I don’t do much except watch sports on TV. I’ll watch two baseball games every day. Some days I’ll watch three based on the times they start.”
A father of four and grandfather of seven, Rose said he talks sports every night with his son Tyler. They’ll bounce ideas off each other to home in on games Pete feels strongly about. “We’re not going to try to bet [every game],” Rose said. “We’re going to concentrate on games that we think we know the outcome to and go from there.”
Rose reflects on past mistakes
Rose’s playing credentials during a career spanning from 1963-86 are unquestioned. His 4,256 base hits are the most in MLB history, and he also holds the records for games played, at-bats, and singles. The 17-time All-Star won one MVP award and played for three World Series champions.
But to many, Rose is equally well known for the way his relationship with MLB ended. He was banned from baseball in 1989 for betting on games as the manager of the Cincinnati Reds. Every attempt since at reinstatement has failed, most recently with Commissioner Rob Manfred in 2015. Rose remains ineligible for the Baseball Hall of Fame.
“I’m not going to sit here and tell you that I didn’t make a mistake. I made a mistake betting on baseball,” Rose told US Bets. “But, I needed something else when I was retired as an active player, and I believed in my players so much. I had so many good young players, so I just bet on ’em every night to win. Because I thought they would win every night. And I was wrong. And I paid the price for it.
“I can’t get away from it. I just — you know, sometimes in life, you just hope for a second chance. But, I don’t want you to think that before I go to bed tonight, I’m going to dream and hope that I go to the Hall of Fame tomorrow. I’m going to hope and dream that I wake up tomorrow! You know, that’s the stage of my life that I’m in.”
Despite having resigned himself to the likelihood of not receiving Hall of Fame induction during his lifetime, and despite saying that it’s not what he thinks about when he goes to bed at night, the slight still clearly gnaws at Rose.
“The Hall of Fame is not for a bunch of altar boys. The Hall of Fame is for stats,” Rose said. “I know all the guys that are in the Hall of Fame. And they’re all great players. But I’m sure some of them made mistakes. I mean, am I the only player in the history of baseball to bet on baseball? I’m not naïve enough to believe that. But that’s fine. That’s fine. I’m the only one that got caught.”
‘Charlie Hustle’ slides headfirst into MLB hypocrisy
A lot has changed in the past 32 years when it comes to MLB’s relationship with sports gambling. It wasn’t so long ago that MLB joined with the NFL, NBA, NHL, and NCAA in filing for injunctive relief to prevent sports betting in New Jersey (and, in effect, in any state other than Nevada).
But since the U.S. Supreme Court overturned PASPA by a 7-2 vote in May 2018, MLB, like the other leagues, has sought to ride the sports betting wave and negotiated numerous partnerships to get various slices of the vast pie.
“Baseball never wanted to accept gambling, but they’re in bed with the gambling world now, and it’s fine. I mean, it’s fine. I see no harm in it,” Rose said. “Baseball is like every other person or organization today, it’s all about [money]. … Baseball took a lot of time to get on the gambling bandwagon, but they finally did.”
Rose, who prior to the COVID-19 pandemic was making his daily living meeting fans, talking baseball, and signing autographs at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas, says he believes he’s “the biggest ambassador baseball has.”
He is also, for many, the face of American sports betting, even if his connection to the activity dates back to long before its legality was widespread.
Now that he is formally connected with a sports betting-related company in UPickTrade, Rose is going out of his way to encourage wagering responsibly.
“We’re not advocating 16- and 17-year-olds taking our advice and betting. We’re talking about grownups who have the money to bet. And, we say this over and over again: If you don’t have money, don’t bet. Because that’s leading to trouble. That’s putting them down the wrong path,” he said.
With regulation of sports betting apparently close to becoming reality in Rose’s native Ohio, he told US Bets he supports legal wagering coming to the state and would definitely be interested in placing a ceremonial first bet at a casino in the Cincinnati area.
“Well, sure, I’m a Cincinnati guy,” he said. “It’s like everything else. If every other state’s going to do it, why do you say, ‘I don’t want to do it’? All it’s going to do is help pay more teachers. It’s going to help pay more firemen. It’s going to do a lot of good things for the city. Because there’s a lot of taxes in sports betting.
“There’s nothing wrong with Las Vegas, Nevada. They’ve been doing it right for how many years?
“Don’t be scared to be a copycat if it’s going to take in millions of dollars for you.”
Photo by David Kohl / USA Today Sports