News: A New Biography Examines Pete Rose’s Paradox

The latest gambling scandal to impact Major League Baseball has sparked new discussions as a new biography provides an uncompromising look at the sport’s all-time hit king.

Pete Rose was racking up hits on the field. Off the pitch, he accrued debt from gambling. His perseverance at the plate paid off, as he became the baseball player with the most hits ever, but his recklessness cost him dearly: a permanent exile from Major League Baseball and, finally, admission into the Hall of Fame. Veteran journalist Keith O’Brien’s new book Charlie Hustle: The Rise and Fall of Pete Rose, and the Last Glory Days of Baseball revisits this epic tale.

“I think we’ve forgotten why we cared about Pete Rose in the first place in the 35 years since he was banned from baseball and committed mistake after mistake off the field,” O’Brien remarks. “I wanted to go back and read that entire story, that entire arc, first.”

The book, which derives its title from Rose’s moniker, takes on additional significance in the aftermath of the most recent major league gambling scandal: Ippei Mizuhara, the former MLB star Shohei Ohtani’s interpreter, is charged with stealing $16 million from Ohtani in order to pay off his gambling debts. Ohtani maintains that he did not wager on sports himself and that he was unaware of Mizuhara’s obligations from gambling.

Major League Baseball players are still prohibited from placing bets on their own teams or sports. The latter would result in Rose receiving the same lifetime ban that Commissioner A. Bartlett Giamatti imposed on her in 1989. Rose, as the Reds player-manager, had placed bets on his own games, according to an investigation headed by John Dowd, a former Department of Justice employee and Marine Corps veteran. Rose took Giamatti’s punishment even though she denied it. The book claims that the sudden death of the commissioner that fall significantly swayed public sentiment against Rose.

The author claims that in the six years since the US Supreme Court legalized sports betting, public perceptions of gambling have evolved. According to O’Brien, “there has been a huge shift in the cultural acceptance of gambling.” It is radically altering the way we relate to and discuss sports. I believe that it is currently radically altering American culture.

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