ESPN’s Outside the Lines has gotten its hands on definitive proof that Pete Rose bet on baseball games while he played for the Cincinnati Reds. Rose had previously admitted that he bet on baseball while managing the Reds, but vehemently denied that he ever did so as a player.
The proof comes by way of a sports book that was kept by Michael Bertolini, a known associate of Rose’s who routinely placed bets on his behalf. Copies of pages from the notebook show that Rose was betting on baseball in 1986. From OTL:
• In the time covered in the notebook, from March through July, Rose bet on at least one MLB team on 30 different days. It’s impossible to count the exact number of times he bet on baseball games because not every day’s entries are legible.
• But on 21 of the days it’s clear he bet on baseball, he gambled on the Reds, including on games in which he played.
• Most bets, regardless of sport, were about $2,000. The largest single bet was $5,500 on the Boston Celtics, a bet he lost.
• Rose bet heavily on college and professional basketball, losing $15,400 on one day in March. That came during his worst week of the four-month span, when he lost $25,500.
Perhaps more interesting than what is actually in the notebook is the how it was able to remain hidden for so long. Bertolini’s notebook has been in possession of the U.S. Attorney’s Office since 1989, when it was scooped up as evidence during a raid conducted by the U.S. Postal Inspection Service. Over the years, multiple media outlets have made attempts to gain access to the notebook under the Freedom of Information Act, but all of those requests were denied.
Last year, Bertolini’s notebook was transferred to the National Archives, where it remained off-limits:
In April, Outside the Lines examined the Bertolini memorabilia kept in the National Archives’ New York office, but the betting book — held apart from everything else — was off-limits. The U.S. Attorney’s Office internal memorandum from 2000 that requested the spiral notebook’s transfer said Bertolini’s closed file has “sufficient historical or other value to warrant its continued preservation by the United States Government.” The memorandum listed among its attachments a copy of the notebook, but a copy of the memorandum provided by the National Archives had no attachments and had a section redacted.
How OTL eventually got a hold of the notebook isn’t made explicitly clear in the story.