Answer Man: Pete Rose talks Vegas, Sparky, Kool-Aid Man and exile

David Brown
Big League Stew

Can it really be 25 years since Pete Rose retired as a Major League Baseball player? The man called "Charlie Hustle" collected 4,256 career base hits for the Cincinnati Reds, Philadelphia Phillies and Montreal Expos, more than any other player in history. But he is just as famous for getting banned in 1989 for betting on baseball as a manager. Now 70 years old, Rose signs autographs for a decent living at a memorabilia shop in Las Vegas. He not only does it for the money, but also because there's really nothing else for him to do. In the conclusion of my Las Vegas Trilogy, during an Answer Man session that might last longer than the Dowd Report (which helped damn him into exile) Rose seemingly touches on most subjects.

David Brown: I saw your website advertising a package that includes "dinner for four with Pete Rose" for $5,000. So, do you think I can expense this breakfast to Yahoo!?

Pete Rose: That's one of those deals where it saves you traveling on an airplane to do things. A lot of people like to go out to dinner and bring a small group, and I do the same thing at that dinner that I'll do at dinner out in Philadelphia tomorrow night for 300 people. It works here because so many people come here on vacation and so many people come here with money.

What I do here in Vegas — and I mean signing autographs 15 days a month — you can't do anywhere else. Most of the people who come to town don't have a chance, otherwise, to talk to a celebrity or someone they watched on TV. I'm the right guy for this gig. I'm personable, I love the game, I love fans and I have so much recall of things that happen to me, so I can usually have a conversation with people. Everything I did, I remember, whether I was playing in Macon, Ga., or Casper, Wyoming. My whole life experience is in this gig I got here. It's fun. All I do is sign autographs. If you come in the store, you don't have to buy something; you can just come in, take a picture and say "hi."

DB: You will write "I'm sorry I bet on baseball" if someone asks you to. Are there any items you won't sign, or any inscriptions you won't write?

PR: There's only two things that I will sign "Charlie Hustle," and one is the jersey. And the other is a new black ball with my hand. We have an actual bronze hand. Those are the only two things I will sign "Charlie Hustle."

DB: OK, so it's lucrative. But is it fulfilling? {YSP:MORE}

PR: If you're asking me "Would I rather be managing a baseball team?" Sure, I would. But I screwed that up. I can't blame anybody; I'm the one that made the mistakes. This may sound funny to you, but I think I'm the best ambassador baseball has. And I'm not even involved in baseball. I'll go there today and work 'til 4:30, quarter to 5, and I'll talk baseball to baseball fan after baseball fan. Living [out West] I probably watch more baseball than anybody you know.

DB: What did you think of the World Series? Especially Game 6. A lot of people think it was even more entertaining than Game 6 in '75, which has been called the best World Series game ever.

PR: Game 6 was a great game, but it was partly a great game because of the sloppy play. It was a great game, but it got there because of five errors. We didn't have five errors in Game 6 in the '75 World Series. [The score] was 3-0, 3-3, 6-3 ... a terrible swing, fouled out of Bench's glove by [Bernie] Carbo, next pitch 6-6. Then you go 12 innings and Carlton Fisk hits a home run in the 12th [for Boston] to win 7-6. How many Hall of Famers did you have playing in that Series? Six or seven?

[Editor's note: Rose would be right on with seven, if you counted him and Jim Rice — who was injured. Also for the Red Sox: Fisk and Carl Yastrzemski. For the Reds: Johnny Bench, Joe Morgan and Tony Perez.]

PR: All of the other games were one-run games (except for Games 1 and 5). I'm not going to say our Game 6 was more entertaining than theirs, but ours wasn't as sloppily played.

DB: You believe Bernie Carbo when he says he played high?

PR: I don't know why Bernie would ever say that. You know, we drafted Bernie ahead of Johnny Bench. We traded him because we had a stockpile of outfielders. I didn't know that side of Bernie. I didn't know anybody in my era who played high. If they did, I didn't know it. I don't know what Bernie was trying to do.

DB: Maybe it's part of his rehab or penance.

PR: Well, he's like a preacher today. You wouldn't think, I mean, is he still repentin'? Is that what he's doing? If you're going to say something that could hurt the game, or hurt the situation, and you're going to say it now after 35 years? It don't make sense to me.

DB: Did you see the story about the guy at the MGM Grand who put money on the Cardinals to win at 999-to-1 odds?

PR: I saw a copy of the ticket. One of the waiters down at the Palm Restaurant, the guy came in and he took a picture of it. $250,000. That's the guy who's either the biggest Cardinal fan in the world or he's got too much time on his hands. I can understand, if they're 9 1/2 games out, September, why they'd be 1,000 to 1. For you and me that'd be a good bet — two-fifty — but maybe he went out and made a bunch of bets that day. We don't know. I bet the casino's not happy they made that bet.

DB: I read somewhere how the casino was regretting not adjusting those odds.

PR: Just think how many times he's ready to tear that ticket up. That's why baseball's a great game, man. Because there's no clock running. You've got to get that 27th out. Sometimes it's hard to get. I give the Cardinals all of the credit in the world, but Texas should have won the game. Just catch the ball. Make a catch. Right field, just make a catch. Don't glide back; get your ass back there, come forward, catch the ball. The ball can't go over your head unless it goes out of the ballpark. It can't hit the base of the wall if you're back there. You're playing deep for a reason. They let it get away from them. But the Cardinals were on fire. It just goes to show you: the best team don't always win; the hottest team does.

I know what happens when you get into a playoff. During the regular season, there's a lot of bad pitching and a lot of bad teams. So there's a lot of home runs hit. Then when you get into the playoffs, most of the teams in the playoffs have really good pitching. I don't know who invented this, or why, but good pitching will stop good hitting. When you've got potential Cy Young winners going out there two, three days in a row, it's tough. Guys like Ryan Howard, who hit around .250 and strike out a lot but hit a lot of home runs, they can be pitched to. Guys that are one-dimensional can be pitched to.

DB: You think Howard's contract is hamstringing them?

PR: No. Ryan Howard, he does what he's supposed to do. He knocks in runs, he hits home runs. It's easy to say that now because the kid hurt his leg, but he'll bounce back. One thing about Mr. Middleton — John Middleton owns the Phillies, and he's one of the best owners because all he cares about is winning. As does Mr. [Bob] Castellini of the Reds, but he don't have the purse strings that Mr. Middleton does. Just the other day, the Phillies gave [Jonathan] Papelbon $50 million for four years. [The owner] wants to win. He knows that every game next year is sold out, over 220 straight games sold out. Ruben Amaro looks forward, thinking Ryan Howard won't be ready the first month, so he signed up Jim Thome. They're always thinking about winning.

PR: There are a lot of owners like that. The Busch Family in St. Louis, when I was a free agent and wound up signing with the Phillies in '79, they offered me a Budweiser distributorship. Mr. [Ewing] Kauffman in Kansas City. A great guy, great owner. Offered me an oil well to sign with the Royals.

DB: What would you have done with an oil well?

PR: Probably retired.

DB: When people come in, do they give you Expos stuff to sign?

PR: Yeah! I get a lot of Expo jerseys, Expo pictures. There's a lot of people from Montreal that really miss baseball. We had a good team there. I had fun when I was over there for four, 4 1/2 months. You had [Andre] Dawson on that team — a Hall of Famer — Gary Carter on that team, Tim Raines. He'll get some Hall of Fame consideration. We just underachieved. I think the strike in '94 turned people in Montreal off to baseball. But it's a good town.

DB: You switch hit, but I was looking up your stats and there was one game, I think, where you batted left-handed against a left-handed pitcher. What happened?

PR: Twice. Once against Jim Brewer and once against Randy Jones. I just couldn't see Jim Brewer in Dodger Stadium with those fuzzy lights and that screwball. And with Randy Jones, if you'd bat left-handed against him, you'd take the sinker away from him. The only two times I ever did it. I don't remember what I did against Jim Brewer. I know, Randy Jones, I batted lefty against him when he was going for the all-time consecutive inning streak without a walk. He got me 3 and 2 and threw me a breaking ball — which I never saw before from a left-hander batting left-handed — and it was strike three, except the umpire called it ball four. He got pissed. He walked me.

DB: How close to the record was he?

PR: He was in the 60s. Randy was a good pitcher, man. Eventually, Sparky [Anderson] told me, "If you want to hit Randy Jones, you just move up way in the batter's box and then the sinker looks like a strike. Because I was deep in the box. When a ball that looks knee-high and you swing at it, it's really ankle-high. So I moved up in the box. There wasn't really too many offensive hits Sparky could give you, because he was a bad hitter. But he was a great manager. The best.

DB: He loved changing pitchers, though.

PR: That's because his strength was in his bullpen. You can say anything you want about anybody, but if they got success, don't knock it. If he had the [current] Philly pitching staff, he wouldn't have went to the bullpen. They called him "Captain Hook." But it worked. I played for 12 managers. He was the best I ever played for. All managing is, it's handling people. Twenty-five people under one set of rules. And he did it the best. If you're going to ask a guy to go to war with you every night, you gotta know what makes him tick.

PR: Sparky, he didn't handle me like he did Bench. Or Bench like Morgan, or Morgan like Perez. Or Perez like [Cesar] Geronimo. Or Geronimo like [Dave] Concepcion. Or [Ken] Griffey. [George] Foster. He handled us all differently. And it worked. Sparky was really street smart. A lot like me, I think. Not book smart, street smart. Sparky's philosophy — and it's really true if you think about it — there's only three ways you can treat a person, and only three: You could pat 'em on the ass, kick 'em in the ass or leave him alone. You don't pat the guy who needs to be kicked. You don't kick the guy who needs to be left alone. Ain't no other way. It's not rocket science. Guys try to make too much out of it. And if your superstars believe in your program, you're ahead of the game. If your superstars don't like your program, it's only a matter of time before you get fired.

PR: Sparky Anderson would never have guys eating during the game, or drinking beer in the clubhouse. He would never have guys sleeping in the clubhouse. Wouldn't tolerate it. Plus, the [player] personalities we had on the Big Red Machine, it never would have happened. That's the manager's job. I know you can't be worried about guys in the clubhouse while you're involved in the game, but if the guys in the clubhouse got respect for you and your rules, they won't do that.

DB: You're 70. Is there still a chance for you to manage anymore?

PR: I'm different than anybody else. One, I don't act 70. Two, I don't look 70. And three, I'm involved in the game everyday, as far as watching it. And I'm involved with young players texting me all the time, trying to make them better. The whole thing about being a baseball guy is trying to make the game better. And if I can make one kid better ... You know, when I was manager of the Reds for '84, '5-'6-'7-'8-'9, I saw 30-some players get their first hit. That's a lot of young players. What the youth gives you is enthusiasm, which you put together with the veterans who have experience.

PR: I wouldn't worry about the game passing me by. You can know only so much about the game. Joe Torre, or Joe Girardi or Charlie Manuel don't know any more about baseball than I do. I don't know any more about it than Tony La Russa does. What La Russa knows more than I, is his players. You have to know your personnel. Who wants to bat with a man on second and two outs? Who wants the ball, bases loaded in the ninth and you need a strikeout? Some guys don't want it. You have to constantly talk to the players if they make mistakes. Don't yell at them. I never was embarrassed in front of my peers by a manager. And I never embarrassed one of my players in front of his peers. That's as a result of my father. He always used to correct me in the right and wrongs of playing the game, but he did it on the way home after the game when just him and I were in the car. Not screaming at me because I threw to the wrong base when I was 11.

DB: The Hall of Fame is one thing, but do you have enough time to get back into the game?

PR: I don't know. I'm sitting here, suspended. I think something like that should be left up to the 30 owners. OK? Let me explain something to you. You've got to understand how I'm saying this to you. And I've said this before, and I don't say this in an arrogant way, but if I was ever reinstated, I don't want some owner calling me unless he wants to do two things: put asses in the seats and win. Because that's all I'm interested in doing. And there's not a lot of guys out there that can put asses in the seats. Because you don't come to see a manager; you come to see the players. But sometimes you come to see how the players play. And I know for a fact: If I was managing a team today, it would be an aggressive team. You've got to put players in a situation where they won't fail.

DB: There've been a couple of times when it seemed like you were on the verge, like Selig was going to let you back in.

PR: Several years ago, yeah. I don't know what happened there. I didn't do anything to get him sidetracked. I don't know what Bud's ... I don't want to say "problem" ... I like Bud. I had a couple of meetings with him, got along good with him. We have the same loves. We love the game. I just think I've loved it longer than he has. This is America. Most everybody gets a second chance. And I'm still waiting for it. It's been 22 years. And if I never get it, like I've said, I can't be bitter at you, or at Bud. I'm the one that messed up. But I can't take that back. It's part of history. For those people who talk about the Hall of Fame, I was suspended from baseball for doing something after I was a player. So my whole playing career has nothing to do with my suspension. And that's what the Hall of Fame's about — stats. You think anyone ever thinks about that? I never read about that.

DB: You have a lot of supporters.

PR: I do have a lot of support. Whether you like it or not, in the last seven or eight years, baseball has helped me in the eyes of the people because what it's going through with steroids and stuff. Because everybody knows, the one thing that's sacred to baseball, is its stats. Its records. And I did nothing to alter any stats. And I'm not saying who did, but if they did, it's kind of criminal toward the life of baseball. See, I'm the wrong guy to talk about steroids with. Wouldn't it be nice if you could talk to Roger Maris? Wouldn't it be nice if you could talk to Babe Ruth? Wouldn't it be nice if you could talk to Hank Aaron, who won't talk about it? Anybody who's lost a home run record and guys who beat that record and are supposedly — supposedly — linked to steroids. Now, if somebody got 4,257 hits and was linked to steroids, I would have something to say.

DB: Hank Aaron's been very forgiving towards you.

PR: Yeah, Hank likes me. And I think this is part of the reason. Hank wasn't real verbal about McGwire, Sosa and Barry Bonds. There's a lot of people in this world who think Hank Aaron should be the home run king. I know he didn't take no steroids. Hank Aaron didn't cheat at all. He was a helluva player, a great player. Him and Willie Mays were like that. And the Mick. Head-bob at the wire.

DB: I want to ask you about your TV commercials. Do you think you wouldn't have had at least 4,257 hits had Kool-Aid Man not robbed you of that home run?

PR: That was a helluva catch [laughs]. I used to have fun doing commercials. I did, like, 15 nice ones. You know, one of the best commercials I ever did was a Milk Duds commercial. And it was the only time I did a commercial where they taped it during a game at Wrigley Field. And I had one of those games where I did a head-first slide into second, a head-first slide into home, I made a great diving play. I got three hits in that game, I'd stretch a single into a double and do a head-first. I mean, it was unbelievable. And they finally had to get me on an off day in the dugout — after all of that action — and say, "I did it because of Milk Duds" [laughs].

PR: I did four years of Aqua Velva commercials. Did that with Joe Morgan, Betty Buckley, Vic Tayback, Gunilla Hutton — All-Stars in their own right. I took that commercial from $10,000 to $200,000. Then the new Aqua Velva president came in and he wanted a surf-boarding, ice-blue Aqua Velva scene.

DB: You splash Aqua Velva on this morning?

PR: Nah. We always used to do it in the clubhouse, because they always used to supply the clubhouse. Then I did a commercial locally in Ohio for Zenith Norge. They used to make appliances, TVs and stuff. The punch line had to do with the color quality of the TV, and I'd say: "After all, I don't play for the Cincinnati Pinks" [laughs].

DB: Would you say that Milk Duds were your greenies?

PR: Ha. Well, we didn't look at greenies as greenies. Greenies were nothing more than diet pills. They'd curb your appetite. Greenies is false hope. Amphetamines. They don't help you hit the ball any further or harder. They don't help you do anything.

DB: Wake you up?

PR: Well, it's like this (Rose holds up a cup of coffee). Caffeine. That's all it is.

DB: There's a YouTube video of a man coming to a signing and handing you what appears to be a "9/11 Truther" pamphlet, which purports that the U.S. government somehow was an accomplice in the attacks. Has that moment influenced your world view at all?

PR: I certainly don't believe that. That's another thing I do every night. I watch [Bill] O'Reilly, and I watch Greta [Van Susteren] and [Sean] Hannity every night.

DB: So you're a big Fox News guy.

PR: Yeah, I am. "Fair and Unbalanced."

DB: Did you say "Fair and Unbalanced"?

PR: They're balanced! They're fair. O'Reilly is. He'll give you your time.

DB: They ever have you on?

PR: I was on O'Reilly a couple of times. I was following Herman Cain. Now they're going to attack Newt [Gingrich] on his three wives. How he screwed around when he was married, however many years ago it was. It's amazing what the opposition does. They've left Newt alone so far, just like they left Herman Cain alone until he got to the top of the polls. And Mitt Romney's staying right there, at the same percentage. I would say that Mitt Romney will probably get the nomination. And a good guy to run with him might be the guy from Florida, Marco Rubio.

DB: About a year ago, I interviewed Luke Scott, the Orioles player. Very outspoken,very conservative. He's also one of these people who believe President Obama wasn't born in the United States. You're not one of those people, are you?

PR: Nah. Obama's a great speaker. Because of his speaking ability and his appearance, a lot of guys got on board. Being the first African American, a lot guys got on board. But I don't know if the people around him have really been right. He's made — when I say "he" it's probably the people around him — have made a lot of bad decisions. And the economy is what it is. You're three years in now. You can't keep blaming George Bush. The deficit has gotten a lot worse since he's been in power. I watch the experts every night on this, and I just say to myself, "Who in the hell would want the job, to be president?"

DB: Do you think that's why we have the candidates we got?

PR: Well, Romney's a businessman. So is Herman Cain. Like a guy said the other day, "Has Obama ever had a job?" He hadn't even been in the Senate long enough. It'd be like me running a business. I know about running a memorabilia business. Understand what I'm saying? I like Barack Obama as a person. He's articulate, he knows sports, his brother-in-law's a coach. He always has the athletes to the White House. But I don't know about some of his policies and some of these people in Congress.

DB: You've heard from and met a bunch of Presidents. Which was your favorite interaction?

PR: Well, I got two calls from Ronald Reagan.

PR: I met Gerald Ford. I met Richard Nixon. I met Jimmy Carter. I met Dwight Eisenhower when he was a general. George Bush senior. I haven't met Bill Clinton or George W. Bush, although I got a letter from him. A guy come through, maybe four years ago, and I was signing autographs at Field of Dreams. I asked him what he does for a living and he says, "I guard Air Force One." I said, "Really? That's kind of interesting to me. Will you do me a favor and, if I give you a signed jersey, will you give it to the President?" So I signed it, I gave it to him and I got a real nice letter on United States of America stationery from him, from George W. Bush, thanking me.

PR: I played in tennis tournaments with his dad, at the Chrissy Evert tournament. His dad was a great guy. Still is. Jimmy Carter had me at the White House when I got my 3,000th hit. And, of course, Ford and those guys, we used to meet in the clubhouse because they'd always come around for the All-Star Games and stuff. The teams used to hate that because of all the chaos it would cause with security.

DB: Do you have unfinished business with the wrestler Kane?

PR: Nah, he's a good man. Glenn's a great guy. Vince McMahon's a great guy. I did three or four Wrestlemanias. I have never in my life met a rassler in the WWE — WWF when I was doing it — that wasn't a nice guy, that didn't care about each other. It's the best entertainment around. I'll watch it today. The Rock is back now. John Cena too. He is the nicest guy in the world. And the Big Show. Undertaker. Glenn, Kane, is just a great guy. My little grandson loves wrestling. I get him tickets whenever they come to Cincinnati. He can do every move of every wrestler. He can do every entrance of every wrestler.

DB: Like a 7-year-old Batting Stance Guy, but for wrestling.

PR: Yeah, I've seen him. That's pretty neat, because he does the ones that are just so unusual. Everybody's different. I don't know of two superstars or two Hall of Famers who have the same stance. And yet we all hit the same. You gotta hit from here (points to area in space), you can't hit from here or here.

DB: Were your righty and lefty stances mirror images of each other?

PR: I probably crouched more left-handed. I don't even know. Because when you bat, you're just batting so you can see the ball and be comfortable. I remember one game, I got home and my first wife said, "Did you realize you were crouching even lower tonight?" It was a twilight game, I couldn't even see, so I got down lower. I didn't realize it.

DB: You don't have to pay because you're Pete Rose, but is there a famous person you'd like to meet?

PR: Michael Jordan. He was in my son's hitting group in Birmingham (the White Sox's Class AA team). Said he was the nicest guy ever. I've met Magic Johnson, Larry Bird, Dr. J. I've met Frank Sinatra. He used to come to Dodger Stadium and sit behind our dugout so he could see into theirs.

DB: Have you ever met one of the Beatles?

PR: Ringo. On stage at a concert in Los Angeles. Gave him a bat.

DB: We know you like Elvis. What other kinds of music do you listen to?

PR: All kinds. Eminem's the best. Usher. Michael Jackson was a great entertainer. But Eminem — who would have thought that the best rapper in the world would be white and the best golfer in the world would be black, in Tiger Woods?

DB: Do you feel ripped off that they went and made a movie of your life and got Tom Sizemore to play you ...

PR: That was the biggest joke of all time. I would say that — you're talking about ESPN — I would say that 95 percent of that movie was unfair. Or untrue. "Who's better than you?" I mean, Tom Sizemore acted about as much like me as you would. I didn't even watch it. I just got reports on it. They consulted me and they could have paid me to be a part of if, but they didn't want that. They wanted their controversy. But ESPN is not known for making good movies.

DB: Sometimes they make a good documentary.

PR: What was the one that Brian D[e]nnehy played? Who'd he play? Bear Bryant?

DB: Tom Berenger was Bear Bryant. Dennehy was Bobby Knight.

PR: Yeah, how 'bout that? Now, compare that movie to what we just came out with, the documentary, "Crowning of the Hit King." You get tired of talking of talking about things that happened in the '80s. It's old news. People want to know what's going to happen next week. Not what happened 10 years ago, 20 years ago. You can rehash it any way you want, it's not going to change.

PR: Because people now understand, that I understand, that I messed up. And that's really what Mr. Giamatti told me, when he told me to "reconfigure my life." It took me some years to figure that out. When he told me that, I figured he meant, "Be very selective with the people you hang out with. Do no more illegal gambling." So I quit doing that. But what he really meant was, "Take responsibility for what you did." And I think people understand now that I did that. And I have a clear conscience.

DB: Here we are in Las Vegas. Do you think that Bud Selig, Major League Baseball, whatever, think you're still gambling on baseball?

PR: I don't care what they think. I haven't bet on baseball since 1987. An answer to that is, just like I told you: when I get off work today, I'll go get me a Subway salad or go eat somewhere and go home. I don't go down to the casino. You don't see me in the casinos. I'm not a blackjack player, I'm not a dice player. If this gig worked in Hoboken, N.J., that's where I'd be working. I can't help it. If people don't want me to come to Vegas anymore, let me be in baseball. I'll sign a thing that says "I'll never come to Vegas again." Because I never came to Vegas all during my baseball career, not until I started doing my radio show in the 1990s at the MGM grand. It's just like, in some people's eyes, if I drive by a race track, I'm at the race track. And so what? It's not illegal. I'm not doing anything illegal by working here. I'm a good citizen. I work hard. But people who say that are always going to be around. And then after they're done with their column, they'll probably go make bets themselves. Some people will never give you a second chance. Like Fay Vincent. To hear Fay Vincent talk about me, you'd think I'd killed nine people and raped 30 girls. He's a bitter old man. I did a lot of bad things. He got fired as commissioner. That's hard to do. Isn't that hard to do?

DB: You ever met Bart Giamatti's son, the actor Paul Giamatti?

PR: No, but I like him. He's a great actor. And I'm going to tell you: Bart Giamatti was a helluva guy. When I sit here and talk to you, I seriously believe that — God rest his soul, he died five days after he suspended me — I'd bet my life that, had he lived, he would have given me an audience a year after. Because I had meetings with him about the game of baseball and we were on the same page. He just did what he had to do. And his son is a helluva actor. I'd like to talk to him sometime, just to explain to him how his dad and I got along. And how sorry I am that his dad left us so early. He wasn't in the best of shape. He smoked a lot. But Paul's a helluva actor. Great actor.

DB: You have the most unusual-looking collection of Reds hats I've ever seen.

PR: I get them from Lids. Craig Siegel, my buddy in Indianapolis makes all my hats for me. I got every damn Reds hat there is. My son actually got me this one in San Francisco. That's the "running man." I just say, "Gimme something that's unusual," if I'm going to opening day, or something, and he'll send me three or four hats. I probably have 100 different ones. I went to 14 games last year. I pay for my own tickets. I had to pay for my own tickets when I saw my son play in the big leagues.

DB: Are you still seeing the lovely Kiana Kim?

PR: Aw, yeah. She's coming up here Friday with her two kids. She just got done working out right now. She's good, she's beautiful.

DB: Well, I kept you a long time. I'm sorry I was late. It was bad form.

PR: Don't worry about it. Let me ask you a question. I always do this when I spend time with writers. What's your opinion on me?

DB: You should be in the Hall of Fame. No question. It was bad to bet as a manager, to break the rules. Even if you didn't bet against the Reds ...

PR: Well, nobody ever said I did.

DB: But as a manager, you were in position to influence games. You can sit there and say you bet on the Reds to win and I can believe you.

PR: I did. Every night.

DB: If that's the case ...

PR: It's documented. Is it not like, for example, you're riding No. 2 in the Kentucky Derby as a jockey and you bet No. 2 to win?

DB: There aren't rules against that? Anyway, ethically and morally ...

PR: I was wrong. I'm not trying to get you to say I wasn't. But at what time do you receive a second chance? Are you against second chances?

DB: I feel like there's something about the story — whether it's on your end or on Major League Baseball's — that the public at large doesn't know.

PR: If there is, I don't know what it is. I thought, for a while, that Selig wouldn't do it if Mrs. Giamatti was alive.

DB: One thing that hurt you was it taking a while to admit it. If you had come clean in the '90s, maybe we'd be closer to resolution.

PR: That's a good point, but my answer to that is: I can't tell you what I would have said. It was obvious that Fay Vincent was never going to give me an audience. I can't tell you what I would have said if I was called into the commissioner's office in '93 or '94. However, I spilled my guts — and it was late, like you said — the first and only opportunity I got to go in front of the commissioner. I could have called you, or Bob Costas or Jim Rome. I always thought the guy in charge of my life was the commissioner. The first time I got an audience with him, after the All-Century Team, I told him everything I did. And that was 12 or 13 months before my book came out.

DB: I remember when the Dowd Report came out, thinking that some of it was unfair...

PR: Oh, that's another thing. I'll guarantee you that you didn't read the Dowd Report. It was 2,200 pages. He put out that "prosecutor's brief," I called it. That's what everybody got caught up in. How many guys you know in your business going to take time to read 2,200 pages? You won't even read that about Penn State. And by the way, the guys over at Penn State made Jim Tressel look like an altar boy.

DB: I don't know about that choice of words, but ...

PR: Can you be a nicer gentleman, or a better man for your sport or your kids than Joe Paterno?

DB: Well, until this happened...

PR: So all the 60 years of putting the $10 million into the library and having the best graduation rate other than Stanford...

DB: OK. Moving along. Do you have a gut feeling on what's going to happen with you and reinstatement?

PR: No. I don't worry about it. I'm at ease. My mind is clear. I got a good job. I got a pretty girlfriend. I got another grandson on the way in two weeks. So there's a lot of good things going on for me.

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