Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred denied the request for reinstatement of all-time hits leader Pete Rose on Monday, increasing the likelihood that the player with more hits than any other in history will never reach the Hall of Fame.
Manfred's decision, revealed to Rose only shortly before it was released publicly Monday, argues that in two face-to-face meetings Rose failed to demonstrate that he understood the ramifications of his past actions — or even recall them accurately. Manfred wrote that allowing Rose to work in the game "presents an unacceptable risk" that he might again bet on the sport, a strict violation of baseball's rules.
"In short, Mr. Rose has not presented credible evidence of a reconfigured life either by an honest acceptance by him of his wrongdoing … or by a rigorous, self-aware and sustained program of avoidance by him of all the circumstances that led to his permanent ineligibility in 1989," Manfred wrote in his decision, dated Monday.
Manfred's decision expressed doubt — or, in some cases, outright rejection — of Rose's contrition, citing inconsistencies in Rose's testimony and admonishing Rose for what baseball clearly considers a lack of understanding of the severity of his violations. Of their first meeting, on Aug. 5, Manfred wrote that Rose told him he continues to bet on horse racing and professional sports, including baseball. Though such bets "may have been permitted by law," Manfred wrote, "… this fact does not mean that the bets would be permissible if made by a player or manager."
Rose, Manfred wrote, had not taken seriously the plea of the late commissioner A. Bartlett Giamatti that he reconfigure his life before his reinstatement was considered.
"Most important, whatever else a 'reconfigured life' may include, in this case, it must begin with a complete rejection of the practices and habits that comprised his violations of Rule 21," Manfred wrote.
Rose's representatives were preparing a statement to be issued later Monday.
"We're disappointed in today's news," said Ray Genco, his attorney, when reached by phone Monday. Genco said Rose would speak publicly Tuesday in Las Vegas.
Rose was placed on the "permanently ineligible list" in 1989, when he signed an agreement that he had violated Major League Rule 21, which prohibits betting on baseball. His position on the banned list left him ineligible for the Hall of Fame, and he has subsequently been an outcast in his own sport — warily welcomed by his old Cincinnati Reds, for instance, when they hosted the All-Star Game this past summer.
Rose's representatives reached out to baseball officials in February, shortly after Manfred took over for Bud Selig as commissioner, and Rose wrote to Manfred in April, requesting a meeting. Manfred said all year that he would have his staff conduct a review of all materials pertaining to the case, including but not limited to the report issued by Washington attorney John M. Dowd that led to Rose's ban.
Manfred reviewed the report and then met with Rose on Sept. 24. Rose's representatives had submitted two reports to Manfred, one of which Manfred said he "gave little weight because the factual background recited in it is inconsistent with what Mr. Rose told me during our meeting."
The second report offered the results of a polygraph test Rose took voluntarily. The report, though, offered a conclusion of "no opinion" because of "technical reasons that were not Mr. Rose's responsibility."
Manfred said baseball also reviewed the notebook kept by gambler Michael Bertolini, obtained by federal investigators in 1989 but unknown to the public until an ESPN report earlier this year. The notebook contains records of bets placed by Rose on his own Cincinnati Reds in 1986. Rose, though, continued to claim that he only bet on baseball in 1987 even though the Bertolini notebook and the Dowd report cast that claim in serious doubt.
"Mr. Rose's public and private comments, including his initial admission in 2004, provide me with little confidence that he has a mature understanding of his wrongful conduct, that he has accepted full responsibility for it, or that he understands the damage he has caused," Manfred wrote. Washington Post