January 23, 2003 at 6:47 PM EST - Updated June 18 at 11:40 AM
By RONALD BLUM, AP Sports Writer
NEW YORK (AP) - Occasionally contrite but repeatedly the defiant, belligerent spark plug fans love, Pete Rose blames his accusers and medical conditions for the problems that got him kicked out of baseball.
Rose spills his thoughts in a colorful autobiography, "Pete Rose: My Prison Without Bars," released Thursday by Rodale Inc.
Rose, still banned 14½ years later, also concedes for the first time that he bet on Cincinnati Reds games while he was manager in the late 1980s.
The highly touted 322-page book contains no other bombshells. It alternates between apologies for his wrongs and the aggressiveness Rose showed during a 24-season major league career.
Rose (pictured, above) writes he has had Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder and Oppositional Defiant Behavior, which he says he got from his mother, and the book contains several quotes from a doctor about the effects. He repeats that he still loves to gamble legally at racetracks, and describes himself as "grumpy, short-tempered and cold-hearted."
He also talks about the emotional moment when he faced his family before going to prison and "humiliating body searches" in prison. He recounts anecdotes of his career such as taking an umpire to dinner after he was ejected from a game and makes a few puerile jokes.
He also compares his compulsive gambling to the behavior of former President Clinton, actors Robert Downey Jr. and Winona Ryder, and blames former Reds manager Jack McKeon and general manager Jim Bowden for not giving Pete Rose Jr. enough of a chance when he played for Cincinnati in 1997.
On Wednesday, Rose insisted he didn't plan to draw attention away from the elections of Dennis Eckersley and Paul Molitor to baseball's Hall of Fame this week.
"I never intended to diminish the exciting news for these deserving players," Rose said in a statement.
What Rose intended for his public confession has gone terribly awry, former teammate Mike Schmidt said.
"It doesn't look good, it's taken a turn for the worse," Schmidt told the AP. "It is a sad thing. ... I haven't heard anything good, but I hope the commissioner is reserving judgment. I've heard some of the worst references about Pete."
Rose repeatedly challenges the report on his gambling by John Dowd and the accusations made by his former associates before he accepted a lifetime ban in August 1989.
Rose said at the time of the investigation, he couldn't believe the way baseball treated him, calling baseball's evidence "flimsy."
"I spent 24 years building a baseball career that other players could only dream of," he wrote. "And I put it all at risk over the thrill of 'risk' itself. I spent thousands of hours in the batting cage. I took hundreds of grounders and fly balls each day in an effort to master my craft. I was known for a diligent work ethic that was unequaled among my peers. Nobody worked harder or took the game more seriously than Pete Rose -- nobody. Yet after knowing (Paul) Janszen for only seven months, I trusted him to place bets on the game I loved. How could I be so disciplined in one aspect of my life and so reckless in the other? ... "I was Pete Rose -- baseball's all-time Hit King. I had more records than anybody on the damn planet. Nothing could possibly be wrong with someone who achieved that much success -- nothing! ... I was Charlie Hustle -- baseball legend. I would not go down without a fight."
Rose writes about the day he went to federal prison in 1990 after pleading guilty to tax charges and talked to his son, Tyler, then 6.
"I had no answer for the betrayed look in Tyler's eyes," Rose wrote. "My dad never let me down on any level and failing my own son was too tough to handle. So hell, I started to cry, too -- rare for me because, like I said, I'm not a warm-and-fuzzy guy. ... As you can imagine, this was the lowest point in my life."
He says that in prison, he was given identification No. 01832-061.
"I never thought I'd be wearing anything other than No. 14 on my back," Rose wrote, adding that guards "couldn't help but gawk at the sight of Charlie Hustle in lockdown."
Rose pleaded guilty to two counts of filing false income taxes by failing to report income and was sentenced to five months in prison, three months in a halfway house and 1,000 hours of community service.
"I'm probably the only person in America to go to jail for underpaying his taxes by 4 percent," Rose wrote. Then he added, "The responsibility rested squarely on my shoulders. I just wasn't ready to accept it."
The book quotes Dr. David E. Comings of the City of Hope National Medical Center on ADHD and how it applies to Rose.
"ADHD kids are very strong-willed. They don't like anyone telling them what to do," Comings said. "Although they can't sit still or focus on subjects of little or no interest, their restless energy when focused can by dynamite. Pete Rose is not unlike Einstein, who flunked English but excelled in math."
Rose says he hopes commissioner Bud Selig will grant his application for reinstatement.
"My actions, which I thought were benign, call the integrity of the game into question," Rose wrote. "And there's no excuse for that, but there's also no reason to punish me forever."
Rose blames former commissioner Fay Vincent for the 1991 rule that bars him from the Hall ballot and wants "to enjoy my Hall of Fame induction ceremony while I was still alive!"
(Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)