NEW YORK -- After 14 years of denials, Pete Rose has finally come clean and admitted he bet on baseball while manager of the Cincinnati Reds.
The career hits leader says in his soon-to-be-released autobiography that he hopes the acknowledgment will help end his ban from baseball, which could lead to his induction into the Hall of Fame.
Rose says he was a big-time gambler who started betting regularly on baseball in 1987 but never against the Reds, according to excerpts from the book released to Sports Illustrated for its issue that hits newsstands tomorrow.
"Yes, sir, I did bet on baseball," Rose told commissioner Bud Selig during a meeting in November 2002 about Rose's lifetime ban.
"How often?" Selig asked.
"Four or five times a week," Rose replied. "But I never bet against my own team, and I never made any bets from the clubhouse."
"Why?" Selig asked.
"I didn't think I'd get caught."
Rose repeated his admission in an interview on ABC News's "Primetime Thursday," parts of which aired yesterday on "Good Morning America."
"It's time to clean the slate, it's time to take responsibility," Rose says in the interview. "I'm 14 years late.
"I just never had the opportunity to tell anybody that was going to help me . . . 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."
In "My Prison Without Bars," to be released Thursday, Rose writes that he regrets lying for all those years and says, "I wish I could take it all back."
"I've consistently heard the statement: `If Pete Rose came clean, all would be forgiven.' Well, I've done what you've asked. The rest is up to the commissioner and the big umpire in the sky."
Rose agreed to the lifetime ban in 1989 and applied for reinstatement in 1997, but Selig hasn't ruled on the request.
After meeting with Selig, Rose came away thinking he would be reinstated "within a reasonable period." Other baseball officials, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said the following month that Selig wanted Rose to admit he bet on baseball as part of any reinstatement agreement.
As long as Rose is banned from baseball, he is ineligible for the Hall of Fame ballot. His last chance to appear on the writers' ballot is December 2005. After that, if he's reinstated, he could be voted in by the veterans' committee. "The application remains pending, and the commissioner will take all of this into account," said Bob DuPuy, baseball's chief operating officer.
Rose wrote that if he "had been an alcoholic or a drug addict, baseball would have suspended me for six weeks and paid for my rehabilitation.
"I should have had the opportunity to get help, but baseball had no fancy rehab for gamblers like they do for drug addicts. If I had admitted my guilt, it would have been the same as putting my head on the chopping block -- lifetime ban. Death penalty."
In the book, Rose admits placing bets with Ronald Peters through Thomas Gioiosa and Paul Janszen -- the three were the primary witnesses in the 1989 investigation by baseball lawyer John Dowd that led to the agreement in which Rose accepted a lifetime ban.
Dowd concluded Rose bet on baseball from 1985-87 and detailed 412 baseball wagers between April 8-July 5, 1987, including 52 on Cincinnati to win.
"During the times I gambled as a manager, I never took an unfair advantage," Rose wrote. "I never bet more or less based on injuries or inside information. I never allowed my wagers to influence my baseball decisions. So in my mind, I wasn't corrupt."
Former baseball commissioner Fay Vincent said Sunday: "I think John Dowd is owed a big apology by Rose.
"John is the hero. He did a great job. Now Rose admits John was correct," Vincent said.
In his 1989 autobiography, "Pete Rose: My Story," Rose denied gambling. That book was written with Roger Kahn.
"I feel he has embarrassed me," Kahn said yesterday. "I must have asked Pete 20 times, `Did you bet on baseball?' He would look at me, blink his eyes and say, `I didn't bet baseball. I have too much respect for the game.' "