When I've written about Peter Rose in the past, I get tons of email from readers, and many of them point to Bill James as a prominent, intelligent Rose defender who presents "a compelling argument." In the past, I've referred readers to the Dowd Report, which is available online at www.dowdreport.com. This has proved to be an inadequate response.
The Dowd Report is a damning piece of work, but it's also huge and makes for difficult reading. I would be surprised if one of a hundred people who defended Rose saying they found the Dowd Report flawed had read it entirely. Just the report itself is 235 pages, and the exhibits are elaborate. Pete Rose's deposition runs over 350 pages, and it's a beast to get through. To keep track of the dates and people for this piece, I had to put together a huge timeline with names and dates, and I don't think an average fan is interested in doing this kind of in-depth research.
It's much easier to read, say, James' defenses and take his word for it. Bill James devotes his comment on Pete Rose of the New Historical Baseball Abstract (in the right field player comments, of all places) to argue that we don't know that Pete Rose definitely bet on his own games, or even baseball at all. I've read James' arguments thoroughly and, to paraphrase James' conclusion, I've looked into his argument as closely as I can. The closer you look, the less there is to it.
So by way of introduction, this is a detailed refutation of Bill James' arguments as presented in the New Historical Baseball Abstract. James' arguments run from pp. 787-792 of the hardback edition, which I'll be using for page references.
James opens with the case for relativism: he comes up with a sliding scale, from 1 "Associating casually with known (illegal) gamblers" to 10, "Actually participating in the fixing of a championship" [James, pp. 787]. Making the issue needlessly complicated serves the purpose of allowing wide-ranging arguments about what happened at each level, rather than having to address the fact that Pete Rose bet on baseball.
Pete Rose isn't banned from baseball because he got to level 7, or if that should result in a lifetime ban, and level 6 shouldn't. Pete Rose is banned from baseball because he broke a rule posted in every clubhouse:
BETTING ON BALL GAMES. Any player, umpire, or club official or employee, who shall bet any sum whatsoever upon any baseball game in connection with which the bettor has no duty to perform shall be declared ineligible for one year.
Any player, umpire, or club or league official or employee, who shall bet any sum whatsoever upon any baseball game in connection with which the bettor has a duty to perform shall be declared permanently ineligible.
James says he doesn't "like to be drawn into this debate, for two reasons: 1. I don't know, and 2. You don't know either."
Like any juror in a case, what a fan can do is look at the evidence presented to them, and make a decision. I don't presume to tell you what conclusion you should come to, but I believe that basing that conclusion on Bill James' writings on the subject is not an informed choice, let alone a good one.
To avoid the emotional issues around Rose's conduct and punishment, I'm going to focus a single question. Did Pete Rose violate the Rule, betting on baseball games he was not directly involved with, and did he bet on Reds games?
Cast of Characters and Alleged Connections
- Michael Bertolini, friend of Pete Rose, runner of bets to unknown New York bookies
- Steve Chevashore, intermediary for Rose and Janszen to Val
- John Dowd, lead investigator for the firm hired by MLB
- Tommy Gioiosa, friend of Pete Rose, runner of bets to Ron Peters in 1985 and 1986
- Kevin Hallinan, Director of Security, Major League Baseball
- Danita Marcum, Paul Janszen's girlfriend, witness and placed bets from Rose to Peters
- Paul Janszen, friend of Pete Rose, runner of bets from Rose to Chevashore and later Val, as well as Ron Peters
- Ron Peters, bookie, who took bets from Rose for two separate periods of time
- Pete Rose, Player-Manger and later Manager of the Cincinnati Reds
- Val, bookie, who took bets through Chevashore and from Rose directly, and cut Rose off over accumulated debts, which sending Rose back to Peters
James' position is that: "I would characterize the evidence that Rose bet on baseball as…well, not quite non-existent. It is extremely weak." [James, pp. 788]
We will find that a cursory examination of the evidence arrayed against Rose shows that this evidence is not extremely weak. It is in fact strong.
On page 788, James goes through a high-level narrative, saying that in Rose had become addicted to gambling, "lost his moral compass" and was hanging out with a bunch of "shady characters". James is understating the situation, but that's not relevant to the central question I'm trying to focus on.
James details that Janszen was running Rose's bets. On the baseball bets, James writes "Janszen was also a compulsive gambler, and since Rose's bookies might have been reluctant to accept large bets from Paul Janszen himself, Rose's story–that Janszen used his name to cover Janszen's bets–is reasonable." [James, pp. 788]
Bookies did not accept large bets from Janszen. They accepted small bets from Janszen, and large bets from Rose. Where Rose would bet $3,000, Janszen might bet $500.
For instance, here's Peters:
Dowd: Is it part of the bets… did Janszen ever indicate to you that some of the money he gave you was his money he was paying Pete's debts.
[DZ: this is a reference to Janszen's contention that he covered some of Pete Rose's losses]
Peters: I don't believe so, no. I mean their numbers too…. I knew that they were for both people because they were funny numbers, it might be $1,200, it might be $1,400. They were different numbers; they were never just like $1,000 or $2,000.
Hallinan: They believe then that Janszen was piggybacking Rose's bet.
Peters: Right, exactly.
[Transcript of Ron Peters Interview, Exhibit 50, pp. 24]
Janszen did not have the means to back his bets, and if there are people more able than the high-action bookies Rose dealt with to assess a bettor's ability to pay up, I'd be surprised.
Dowd: And, again, were you satisfied that those bets were for Rose?
Dowd: Would you have taken those size bits from Janszen?
Dowd: Because he didn't have the wherewithal?
[ibid, pp. 22]
In fact, there is a particular incident that illustrates this perfectly: on May 14, 1987, Janszen asked his girlfriend Danita Marcum to place bets with Val. In addition to the bets being placed for Rose, Janszen asked her to place 'three' on the Cincinnati-Montreal game for himself. Marcum then put three thousand, rather than three hundred, and then had to scramble to try and get that bet taken off. [Dowd, pp. 57-58] There's a taped call between Janszen and Chevashore where Chevashore relates Marcum trying to get the bet cancelled [Transcript of Janszen-Chevashore Conversation, Exhibit 28, pp. 22-24]. It includes this, after Chevashore's related what happened after Marcum placed the bets.
Janszen: Now, what happened was that night I had asked Danita for me, I was leaving there OK, and Pete – you know, what happened was Pete would call here about every night about like a quarter to seven.
Janszen: And leave the..you know, the numbers of the teams he wanted and when I was leaving here I told her I wanted 3 on Cincinnati myself. Well, you know when she started you know putting in Pete's and everything else, she got confused and put 3 dimes for me and instead of 3 dimes it should have been 3 nickels.
[ibid, pp. 24]
This is a case of an argument made by James that seems at first to be somewhat valid: Janszen's a compulsive gambler, so why wouldn't he use Rose's credit? But a serious examination of the evidence shows that this was clearly not the case. It is not a reasonable assertion that Janszen was betting for himself. I'll refute specific points of James in support of this argument as we progress.
That Janszen was lying, trying to set Rose up, is James' gravamen. "The entire basis of the allegation that Pete Rose bet on baseball is these bets, the Paul Janszen bets, all of which were made in the early part of the 1987 baseball season."
While this is clearly a qualitative argument, it is also demonstrably false. The Dowd Report provides a day-by-day chronology that stretches into July. There are also bets that Rose placed directly with his bookie Ron Peters, along with Rose's own testimony, banking records, and phone logs. Claiming that Paul Janszen is the entire basis of the allegation ignores much of the Dowd report, and numerous pieces of evidence included with it. Still, as James focuses on the Janszen betting, so will this refutation.
James goes on to describe the situation whereby Rose and his associates lived, how Janszen and Rose turned on each other, and Janszen set out to destroy Rose [James, pp. 788-9]. James then asks his big question: "What evidence is there that these were Rose's bets, rather than Janszen's?" [James, pp. 789]
James states that there are only five things that support the assertion that the bets Janszen was placing were Rose's: supporting statements, tape recordings, bank records that show he paid money to bookies, phone records, and "the so-called "betting slips" with Pete Rose' fingerprints and perhaps in Pete Rose' handwriting [sic]." [James, pp. 789]
This is a simplification, but largely true.
James finds that "none of these things is very persuasive" [James, pp. 789].
To the supporting statements, "Dowd cites a dozen or so people who support Janszen's claim that these are Pete Rose's bets. The problem is that most of these people are not in any position to know. At least two of the people that Dowd lists as confirming Janszen's claim have acknowledged that they never actually met Pete Rose. Two of the people that Dowd lists as supporting the claim the Rose bet on baseball acknowledged in secretly taped phone calls that they didn't really know whose bets these were, and another one insists that Rose never bet on baseball." [James, pp. 789]
This is false. In the two secretly taped conversations, Bertolini doesn't say anything about that, and in the second, Chevashore does mention the possibility that Janszen was betting for himself under Rose's name, but dismisses it.
It is also false that another source insists that Rose never bet on baseball. This is a minor distinction, but there are sources that say they never saw Pete Rose bet on baseball, and there are those that don't think he was the kind of person. No source insisted that Pete Rose had never bet on baseball, and those that believed he had not bet on baseball were not close enough to have direct knowledge of whether he did or did not. Later, James will argue that a source must have first-hand knowledge of Rose's guilt. Here he is willing to accept casual testimony of acquaintances as to his innocence.
"At least one bookie has come forward, sort of, to support Janszen's story. But what he really says, if you read it carefully, is that Janszen told him these were Pete Rose's bets, and he believed it."[James, pp. 789]
This is false. There are three bookies that make appearances in the Dowd Report. Ron Peters took bets from Rose over two different periods. Val took bets in the interim period, first through Janszen via Chevashore and later directly from Janszen. There is also a third bookie that Bertolini used for bets he placed for Rose. We have no information about him. It is possible that this bookie might be traced from looking at the various calls Bertolini placed from the Reds Clubhouse [Exhibit 75], but I assume that occurred to Dowd and didn't yield any results.
I believe the one James refers to here as "the one bookie" is Chevashore:
Steve: I can't understand that. I mean, I have to believe you Paulie, but you know, the only thing is, when I spoke to Pete when you were there and he said, I says, Pete you know we keep falling behind this and that and you know they won't take anymore action I don't know what the figure was.
Steve: Maybe it was 15 or 16. He said Stevie I stopped betting when we were in New York on the last trip. He said I'm not betting any – I haven't bet in over 10 days. I said so whose betting this? So we thought it was you making
Paul" No, no
Steve: …betting everything under him
[Transcript of Janszen-Chevashore Conversation, Exhibit 28, pp. 13-14]
Steve: […] [Rose] says, I have, you know, I stopped betting because with those people I wasn't lucky, he said to me you know, whatever was done you did and you know, he didn't say that you were betting under a false pretense, under ghost bets.
Steve: He said this was yours personally, he never said that you were betting and using his name, you know.
Paul: Stevie, do you really think that I would have been betting $2,000 every game?
Steve: No, you couldn't afford that.
Paul: Thank you. I mean I just hop
Steve: Paulie, I don't know you, but to me I don't think you. You know why?
Steve: Because it would make sense that when you used to call up and I would say, when you called those guys in New York, you used to say you know, give me 2 dimes for Pete and add on 3 for me. I remember, I mean that's the truth, you know, I understand that.
[ibid, pp. 15-16]
Even that, however, totally ignores the extensive testimony of Peters, who not only took Rose's bets from Janszen but took them directly from Pete Rose himself:
Dowd: As I understand it, in 1984 you were in the bookmaking business.
Dowd: And you know Pete Rose?
Dowd: And did you take bets from Pete Rose?
Dowd: In what sports did you take bets from Pete Rose?
Peters: Uhm, major league baseball, college basketball and professional football.
Dowd: And did you ever have occasion to talk to Rose directly?
[Transcript of Ron Peters Interview, Exhibit 50, pp. 1]
Dowd: And did Gioiosa place bets for Rose on baseball?
Dowd: And did he place bets on the Cincinnati Reds?
Dowd: For or against the Reds?
Dowd: Always for the Reds?
Peters: Always for.
Dowd: Okay. And in the four to six conversations with Pete Rose, do you recollect Rose betting on baseball?
Dowd: Did he bet on the Reds?
Dowd: Did he bet for the Reds?
[ibid, pp. 8-9]
P: With Pete…that. No, the only thing I told you about before, I remember telling ??? about the time I remember betting from the clubhouse somewhere, because when we bet….
D: Yeah, you were watching the game.
P: Yeah, yeah. I'm watching… I wasn't watching the game, I was on the phone, he made the bet, and five minutes later I'm watching the game and there he was in the dugout, so….
[ibid, pp. 61, the ??? is in the transcript]
Hallihan: Do you remember if the betting was on baseball at that time?
Peters: Yes, it was and it was on the Reds. I'm sure because every time he called, he'd bet on the Reds if they were playing. So, they were playing, if it was….
[ibid, pp. 62]
James goes on: "There are only three people cited by Dowd, that I can see, who 1. Claim that these are Pete Rose's bets. 2. Are actually in a position to know. Those three people are Janszen, his girlfriend, and the guy who was placing Rose's bets before Janszen was honored with that responsibility." [James, pp. 789]
"The other guy, the Third Man, hasn't given clear, consistent statements; sometimes he suggest that Pete Rose was betting on baseball, sometimes he insists that he wasn't, sometimes he says he doesn't know. Mostly just says "leave me alone"." [James, pp. 789]
"The guy" is Gioiosa, who the Dowd Report posits was the long-time runner before that had a falling out with Rose in spring training 1987. Gioiosa went to jail in part for protecting Rose even after they had fallen out, and being part of a cocaine distribution conspiracy. Gioiosa claimed he had won a lucrative horse-racing bet that had actually been placed by Rose and others, in order to shield Rose from the tax liability. In August of 2001, after 12 years of keeping quiet, Gioiosa gave an interview to Vanity Fair where he claimed that Rose bet on baseball, used a corked bat, and was interested in investing in cocaine distribution. That Rose might have been involved in cocaine distribution was not a new allegation: Janszen relates that both Gioiosa and Bertolini were involved in trafficking cocaine and Rose called Janszen to check on the quality [Paul Janszen Deposition, Exhibit 38, pp. 29-30]. The interview with Gioiosa was done by Buzz Bissinger, who has won a Pulitzer Prize for investigative journalism. Gioiosa was not compensated for the interview.
There are several others that James does not mention but who meet his criteria for substantial witnesses. Again, Ron Peters, who took bets from Janszen, Marcum, and Pete Rose himself. Also, Jim Procter, a body-builder and friend of Janszen, was present with Janszen when Rose called Janszen during baseball season and gave betting instructions on that day's games [James, E. Procter Deposition, Exhibit 51, pp. 9-11].
Another figure who might be able to speak is Bertolini, who took bets for Rose and speaks extensively in a taped conversation about how badly this went for him, how much money Rose owes him, and how running Rose's bets had destroyed his life. [Transcript of Janszen-Bertolini Conversation, Exhibit 27]. Despite the amount of debt and the difficult position he was in, however, Bertolini does not co-operate with the investigation. He remained on good terms with Rose throughout.
"Janszen and his girlfriend both insist that these were Pete Rose's bets, and both took lie detector tests to prove it. And both failed. [James, pp. 789]
This is false. "Danita Marcum passed the examination." [Dowd, pp. 52]
Further, the issue of whether Paul Janszen failed the test is not as clear-cut as James makes it out to be–particularly, whether Janszen's "failure" casts doubts on the truth of his Rose-related statements. "In the opinion of the investigator, Janszen failed the examination. However, we have been advised that Janszen showed deception in response to a question irrelevant to his betting for Pete Rose on baseball. In the opinion of the examiner conducting that examination, deception as to one question in a polygraph examination leads to only one conclusion, i.e., the witness has been deceptive." [Dowd, pp. 52]
James makes it seem as if Janszen utterly failed the examination. This is at best an optimistic assessment of the results.
James continues: "When Janszen failed his lie detector test John Dowd arranged for him to be re-tested by a more sympathetic polygraph artist, and Janszen got past the second one." [James, pp. 789]
Dowd's motivation in selection of a second polygrapher is open to debate. In the Report, Dowd says "we employed one of the foremost polygraphers in the United States" [Dowd, pp. 53]. I have no evidence of the selection criteria Dowd employed for determining foremost. Still, the claim that Dowd went out of his way to find a polygrapher who would produce the results Dowd wanted is a heavy one, and warrants more consideration and evidence than the flip reference James makes to this being true.
Moving on, James writes "When his girlfriend bombed her test, Dowd just wrote her off as a lost cause, and failed to mention in the Dowd Report that she had ever taken the test." [James, pp. 798]
This is false. Not only did Danita Marcum pass her polygraph examination, but her polygraph test is mentioned in the Dowd report at p. 52.
It's important to take a moment here and consider the implications of this: Janszen's girlfriend, who was in a position to know if Rose was betting on baseball, and herself placed bets for Rose as directed by Rose himself, passed a polygraph examination conducted by someone apparently acceptable to James. Janszen himself, answering questions like "In '87, did Pete Rose place bets with you as the middleman on the Cincinnati Reds to win?" [Dowd, pp. 53] answered affirmatively. In neither examination was he found to be deceptive in those answers that related to Rose's betting.
Unfortunately for my purposes, there are no reports from the polygraphers included in the exhibits, so I can't look at the primary sources. Detailed write-ups from the polygraph examinations would have been interesting and might have provided insight into what question it was Janszen was thought to be deceptive on in his first polygraph examination, and the nature of the dispute he had with the first polygrapher.
If you believe that polygraph results are valid, that both Paul Janszen and Danita Marcum were not lying at any point about Rose's betting on baseball is convincing evidence. James has a much lower opinion, having asserted incorrectly that Marcum failed the test and incorrectly represented the nature of Janszen's examinations: "So all of that, to me, is just piles of hot BS; I don't regard any of it as meaningful evidence that Rose bet on baseball, other than the claims of Paul Janszen, who has an ax to grind." [James, pp. 790]
I don't hold that polygraphs have significant value as evidence, but to refer to the examinations as "piles of hot BS" seems to be an overstatement of what occurred. The polygraph examinations, if given any credence, support Janszen and Marcum. If you choose not to weigh them at all, they certainly shouldn't detract from their testimony.
Most likely based on the incorrect assertion that she failed her polygraph, James dismisses Danita Marcum and does not refer to her testimony after this. However, her contributions to the evidence against Rose are important, so I'll visit it now.
Marcum was a witness to Rose's wagering through her boyfriend, Paul Janszen:
"I know we would go over there and we would sit and we'd be watching the games on TV. Or if we were over there during like the early afternoon, Pete may be looking at the paper, or even late morning, and he would tell Paul who he wanted for that day." [Danita Jo Marcum Deposition, Exhibit 41, pp. 8]
She verifies the introduction of Janszen to Chevashore, who would take Rose and Janszen's bets for some months:
"Q: And was there any gambling activity either talked about or engaged in at the Downs when you were there?
A: They had been talking. I didn't hear the whole conversation but I did hear that they were going to go through Stevie on their betting. And that Paul would take care of it.
Q: So Paul would place bets for himself?
A: And for Pete and would go through Stevie.
Q: What kind of betting activity was this?
A: This would have been baseball betting.
A: Baseball, football, basketball, hockey."
[ibid, pp. 12-13]
(Rose denies he bet ever bet on hockey in his deposition [Rose Deposition, Exhibit 2, pp. 79], saying he didn't know anything about the sport. Janszen testifies Rose did [Janszen Deposition, Exhibit 38, pp. 44].)
Marcum is also a witness to any number of incidents where she saw Rose and Janszen set up bets, and also verifies an incident where Rose, Janszen, and others including Gioiosa went to Peters' restaurant to give a signed bat, but also so Gioiosa could pay off gambling debts to Peters.
Marcum also placed bets for Rose:
"Q: Now, at any time did you place bets for Pete Rose?
A: Yes, I did.
Q: And were you aware that — did you place bets on baseball teams?
Q: And were you aware that he was the Manager of the Cincinnati Reds at the time?
Q: And it was during the period April, May, and June of 1987?
Q: And did you ever place bets on the Cincinnati Reds baseball games for Pete Rose while he was Manager of the Cincinnati Reds?
Q: And you were aware that Paul Janszen did the same?
Q: And would you tell me generally what the mechanics were of how that took place?
A: In most cases Pete would either call or we would call Pete. Pete would give me the teams who he wanted. And then if — wherever Paul was, if he was not at home, I would call him and tell him who Pete wanted. Then Paul would tell me who he wanted and then I would call Val directly in New York and give the bets to them."
[Danita Jo Marcum Deposition, pp. 16-18]
"Q: Do you recall placing any bets on behalf of Pete Rose with Ron Peters?
Q: And do you recall whether these bets involved baseball games?
A: Yes, they did.
Q: And did they involve the Cincinnati Reds?
A: Yes, they did."
[ibid, pp. 18]
This is validated by Peters:
Dowd: Did you ever talk to a gal placing bets for Pete?
Peters: No, not to my best of…
Dowd: Janszen's girlfriend, Danita Marcum?
Peters: Oh yes, she did, she sure did, yes.
Dowd: She did?
Peters: Uh huh. She sure did.
Dowd: Did she place bets on baseball?
Peters: Uh, god, I don't know. I can't remember that. But, I remember talking to her on a few occasions.
[Transcript of Ron Peters Interview, Exhibit 50, pp. 24-25]
Later, while reviewing the people, including Rose, who placed bets on baseball:
Hallinan: Danita Marcum has called you for Pete to make baseball bets and bets on the Reds, do you recall that?
Peters: That, no that one I can't really be sure about. But, I believe she did.
[ibid, pp. 38]
This is also confirmed in the Ron Peters deposition [Exhibit 11, pp. 26-27].
Next, James moves on to the tape recordings.
"Pete Rose's voice never appears on any of the tape recordings which are used to "prove" that he bet on baseball, so obviously he didn't make any incriminating statements." [James, pp. 790]
This is true.
"No one else appearing on the tapes, other than Janszen, has any direct knowledge about whether these are Rose's bets or Janszen's." [James, pp. 790]
This is false. Steve Chevashore was present when Rose set Janszen up as his man, to place bets for him. Rose also may have done some betting with Chevashore directly: phone records from his house have him calling Chevashore when the Reds were at home (April 11th, for instance, or April 27th). Rose testifies that any calls like that must have been Janszen.
Also, Bertolini almost certainly knew first-hand, by being present and from talking to Rose, that Rose was placing bets on baseball through Janszen. In fact, among Mike Bertolini's calls from the Reds clubhouse, there are calls to Paul Janszen. [Exhibit 75, records of 5/12]
It is possible that all of these calls were made by other people, and it's also possible that after being introduced to Chevashore Janszen started placing baseball bets on his own initiative, and Chevashore never made any effort to ensure Rose backed those bets despite the high financial and potential personal and legal cost of betting on baseball. It's possible Bertolini, while placing a huge number of bets on other sports, was kept from betting on baseball and also sufficiently insulated from that activity that he didn't have direct knowledge.
That's an unlikely possibility, however, given that there are two others who almost certainly had direct knowledge of whether those were Rose's bets or not. James' statement here greatly overstates the situation.
James argues that in the taped conversations "Janszen talks to a bookie, and what the bookie actually says, as I read it, is "I don't care if these were Rose's bets or yours. Pete Rose told me that you were placing bets on his behalf. That makes them his bets as far as I'm concerned. Baseball, football, hockey, what do I care… you were Pete Rose's guy, and he's responsible for you." [James, pp. 790]
This is false. There are two taped conversations by Janszen, one with Bertolini and one with Chevashore.
In the taped conversation of Janszen-Bertolini, Janszen is talking to a fellow runner, who also placed bets for Rose [Exhibit 27], and the conversation is largely a discussion of how Rose has left them both in great financial trouble. Bertolini is cagey enough in his taped conversation that he doesn't make any reference to Rose betting on baseball.
Now, the bookie conversation is probably the Chevashore one, though Chevashore was never anything more than a conduit for bets to an actual bookie. In the taped conversation with Chevashore, Chevashore starts with apologizing for a death threat Paul Janszen's mother received over Pete Rose's gambling debts, and saying he didn't have anything to do with that. Then they talk about how it got to that point, with Chevashore relating at several points how Rose would promise to pay up but would not.
In fact, in the Chevashore conversation, Chevashore makes a direct reference to Val coming to New York and giving Mike Bertolini money [Transcript of Janszen-Chevashore Conversation, Exhibit 28, pp. 19-20] which makes it even more likely Bertolini was aware of Rose's other betting activities.
Chevashore also makes a direct reference to Rose's pretense for moving to another bookie, which was that when Val shut them off for not paying their debts, Rose was unable to place a series of winning bets that day and got angry [ibid, pp. 32-33]. This incident occurred in May, when there were no other sports to bet on.
The only comment in the 43-page transcript that agrees with James' reading is this:
Steve: Because you know what they said, if you were the culprit and wrong, he is supposed to take care of it because we did everything under his merit.
[ibid, pp. 37]
Chevashore also discusses the opinion of the bookmaking community that Rose had attempted before to push his betting debts off on his runners. [ibid, pp. 37-38]
While James is free to interpret the taped conversations as he wishes, his is the most generous interpretation that can be taken of the conversation.
Then we move on to the checks. "The checks do not connect Pete Rose to betting on baseball." [James, pp. 790]
This is false, as we'll see on further investigation.
"The great majority of the checks that Dowd shows us were written in football season, or in March." [ibid].
This is true. Monthly distribution of checks included in the Dowd Report:
November: 15 [Exhibit 29]
December: 3 [Exhibit 29]
February: 3 [Exhibit 23]
March: 5 [Exhibits 47, 48, 49, 59]
April: 2 [Exhibit 49]
May: 1 [Exhibit 79]
The time or the distribution is not relevant, however: the issue is not whether Rose bet mostly on football, or curling, or any other sport. That the Dowd Report includes many checks to tie Rose to bookies, and those checks were mostly in football season and in March, does nothing to prove or disprove the central issue of whether Rose bet on his own games. All that matters is that there are checks to tie him to payments to bookies during baseball season, and those exist.
"There is, for example, one large check ($34,000) that was written the day the NCAA basketball tournament started, which Rose says was written to bring him up to even so that he could bet on the tourney." [James, pp. 790]
This is false. In Rose's deposition, he says that the most he's ever lost while betting through Gioiosa was $34,000 [Rose Deposition, Exhibit 2, pp. 72]. Then Rose says that the check was not, as James says, to bring him up so that he could bet on the tourney, but rather that it was to cover losses in the tourney, which had not yet started, and his reason for paying was being threatened.
"Well, the bets were — probably included Super Bowl '87, plus the basketball tournament. You know, that's a month and a half time. And that's when I quit betting. Because he called me up and said this guy was going to burn my house down and break my kid's legs if I didn't pay him. I said, "Hey, I'm coming home in two weeks. Why do I want to bother my attorney with a check and everything." He said, "The guy wants his money." So I said, "Write him a damn check." And he wrote him a check. I said, "Tell the guy to go to hell. I'm not going to dicker with him no more." [ibid, pp. 74]
Rose repeats this later, saying that he was paying down debts that "included the Super Bowl, the Super Bowl, which is January. And you've got basketball games in February and you've got basketball games in March. And there's a hell of a lot of basketball games." [ibid, pp. 76]
Pete Rose never in his deposition says, as James writes, that Rose made that payment so that he could bet on the tournament. And Rose's inability to place the check within the basketball season casts doubt on the reason he would issue the check at all.
"Janszen insists that the check was in some mysterious way connected to baseball, and Dowd, flying in the face of logic, believes Janszen." [James, pp. 790]
This is false. Dowd never states that the check was connected to baseball. In their depositions Janszen and Peters both offer an alternative explanation: that Rose, having been cut off from "Val" the bookie, went back to Peters, who insisted that Rose pay Peters the $34,000 Rose owed Peters before Peters would take any further action.
Peters testifies that he stopped taking Rose's bets in late 1986 after Rose refused to pay Peters $34,000 he owed Peters. [Ron Peters Deposition, Exhibit 11 at pp. 21-22]
Rose had his attorney cut a $34,000 check to Gioiosa, and then Janszen provided a copy of the check to Peters and said, basically "see, he tried to have this guy pay you, if it didn't happen, it's his fault, not Pete's." Peters accepted this and began to take Rose's bets again [Transcript of Ron Peters Interview, Exhibit 50, pp. 20-21].
James' focus on the checks also ignores an important part of the payments. Rose would take out loans for people who were not credit-worthy. They get the cash, Rose gets the payments and doesn't have to explain any large drafts from his accounts.
Loans made and amounts included in the Dowd Report, by date:
$125,000 to Bertolini's Hit King Marketing company, Feb 23, 1987
$43,000 on May 22, 1987, to Bertolini
Amount illegible in September 1987, to Rose
$28,000 to Rose, on April 4, 1989
And to James' larger point here: do the checks and banking records tie Rose to betting on baseball? They do: looking over his banking records, you can see the pattern of sub-$10,000 checks continues during baseball season [Rose First National Bank statement, Exhibit 46]. There is no reasonable explanation for why the betting-related bank activity would have continued during baseball season, when Rose asserts he never bet on baseball.
James moves on to the phone records, which he dismisses as well. He acknowledges the frequent phone calls between Rose and Janszen, but "the phone records, taken as a whole, tend to suggest that these were Paul Janszen's bets, more than they suggest that these were Rose's bets. The phone records show Paul Janszen making incessant phone calls to the sports line, as if he were anxious about the outcome of games. To whatever extent phone calls to the sports line may be considered evidence, they're better evidence against Janszen than Rose." [James, pp. 790]
There's a rhetorical trick here I want to point out: first, reduce the phone call records to Janszen's sports line calls, and then because Janszen made more, those records become evidence for James' assertion that the bets were Janszen's.
Buy into that for a second. What of that assertion? Janszen's behavior is consistent with placing bets for the both of them. As a runner for Rose placing tens of thousands of dollars in bets a day, in addition to his own wagers, it makes sense that Janszen might be a little jumpier than someone who could go out and sign some bats if he caught some tough breaks.
Further, it's not as if Rose wasn't calling the sports line a lot himself, but Rose had a job that kept him away from the phone: he was frequently managing baseball games during baseball season.
It doesn't matter if Janszen called the sports line a hundred times a day. We should be interested in whether or not the phone records show a pattern that indicates Pete Rose betting on baseball. They do, most definitively.
On April 10th:
6:27 Janszen calls Chevashore
6:40 Janszen calls Rose in the Reds clubhouse
6:47 Janszen calls Chevashore again
[Dowd, pp. 120]
12:46 Janszen calls Chevashore
12:55 Janszen calls Chevashore again
1:55 Janszen calls Rose in the Reds clubhouse
1:59 Janszen calls Chevashore
6:36 Someone at Rose's house calls Chevashore
[Dowd, pp. 121]
The Dowd Report runs 72 pages, from April 8th to July 5th. Nearly every day is a series of short calls between Janszen, Rose, sometimes a third party, like if Marcum is at Rose's house, and whoever they're placing bets with: Chevashore, Val, or Peters.
"That leaves, then, the "betting slips," or the alleged betting slips, which are the best evidence against Pete Rose, other than the word of a couple of ne'er-do-wells." [James, pp. 790]
Again, the evidence against Rose is not limited to the word of ne'er-do-wells, and to reduce it to such is to not only oversimplify the case against Rose, but also ignores the other copious evidence against Rose that James has ignored, like Ron Peters' records and testimony. Still, this is a failure of characterization and summary, and not a factual error.
James sets out his standards for what he wants in evidence: "a specific allegation against him: that is, that on a specific day, Pete Rose bet a specific amount of money on a specific baseball team, with a specific bookie or other person, that this bet was placed in a specific manner (that is, through a named intermediary, by phone, or whatever) and that the result of this bet was win or a loss, and that this money was paid off at some specific time." [James, pp. 790]
Considering the nature of illegal gambling, it seems a stretch that any evidence could meet that standard, but that's a clear standard for James to set.
"The Dowd Report contains no allegation of any specific bet, on any specific date, for any specific amount of money." [James, pp. 790]
This is false. James' standard here is met, since the Dowd report contains specific allegations, referenced in the phone logs (see above), the supporting testimony (see those sections) and in reference to the physical evidence (see below).
The betting pages are Exhibit 16 in the Dowd report. There are three pages of notes. The Dowd Report is clearly wrong in part of the explanation:
"The lower half of the page contains individual team names and team pairings, with the letter "L" or "W". This part of the page includes three baseball pairings including "Cin at Mont W," "Philly at Atl. L" and "LA at Houst L." [Dowd, pp. 110]
I believe that the authors of the report took the 'B' markings on the left margin [Pete Rose Betting Sheets, Exhibit 16, pp. 1] to mean 'baseball'. I find it surprising they didn't look at a schedule or sports page for that day to verify that there were games that day. If you don't take the 'B' as signifying 'baseball', it becomes clearer what's being bet on.
"On a web site devoted to this issue, I am told, there appears the following note: 'What about what Bill James wrote about the case? He said that the betting slips couldn't be authentic, and that the case was based on rumor, heresay, and gossip.'
"'In his 1990 book, James assailed the Dowd report. One point of contention was that the gambling slips showed three baseball games that did not take place on the same day. James was mistaken. In fact, the tree games listed on the betting sheet were all played on April 8, 1987.'" [James, on pp. 791, quoting an older version of the FAQ]
James responds: "My point was 100% correct, and this gentleman is 67% in error. In fact, only one of the three listed games was played on April 8, 1987. One of the games listed was "Philly at Atl." Philadelphia did not play at Atlanta on April 8, 1987. They played on the seventh and on the ninth; they did not play on the eighth. [James, pp. 791]
With regards to the dispute over scheduling: I don't understand why they're arguing over what happened on April 8th. The page is clearly marked "4-9-87". The games are the games of that day. Philly played Atlanta that day.
James continues on the betting notes: "Also, the "betting slips" show a game as "Cin at Mont." [ibid] Cincinnati did not play at Montreal on April 8, 1987 either. Montreal played at Cincinnati on April 8th, 1987."
While I again don't understand the April 8th issue, since the sheet is clearly marked 4-9-87, Cincinnati did not play at Montreal that day, either. I don't have an explanation for this. I looked up every sporting event played that day, hoping that the messy 'CIN' would turn into something else, but there's nothing remotely close: NBA, NHL playoffs, MISL, college sports, none of them offered sports events that could have explained the note.
It seems bizarre that Rose would write down a game that didn't happen and which he would have managed, much less mark it as being a bet he won. And yet it is equally unlikely that a forger would have written this down, since they would be working from available information on what happened that day, and would be tailoring a forgery for maximum incrimination.
James then spends a couple of paragraphs on the term "betting slips" which is a common reference outside of the Dowd Report, but the term used to describe them doesn't enter into the central question I'm examining, so I'm skipping them. It is worth noting that James, presented with a usage he disagrees with, uses it repeatedly but encloses it in quotation marks instead of picking another more agreeable usage, such as the Dowd Report usage of "betting sheets."
James then presents his list of complaints:
"1. The betting slip doesn't match any particular day of the 1987 baseball schedule, or any other season." [James, pp. 792]
This is false, as refuted above. Further, the disputed April 9th notation, Cin at Mont, does not mitigate the evidence of betting on his own team (4/10 CINCY W, 4/11 CIN W) [Pete Rose Betting Sheets, Exhibit 16, pp. 2] the other two days, which James doesn't say anything about. Cincinnati beat San Diego 6-3 on the 10th, 5-1 on the 11th.
"2. The notes are, on the face of them, not even remotely incriminating."
This is false. They contain the spreads on football/basketball games and also show the 'W' or 'L' notation to team names in a manner only consistent with bets. For instance, on the second page, you've got a list of basketball teams and then baseball teams. No opponents, only name, spread (if basketball) and then a W or L. They also contain amounts, as in "5 dimes" [ibid, pp. 3]
Further on 2 "Why wouldn't we expect a major league manager to have comments about major league baseball games in his possession?"
This is irrelevant. Rose was not and is not a man of letters, and to expect him to write out a detailed pro/con list of his thoughts on each game before betting them is a strange standard to set. A comment on April 10th, 1987 that read "The Mariners are due for a win" would not make the sheet any more or less incriminating.
"3. The betting slips are not tied to any specific allegation." [James, pp. 791]
This is false. The Janszen notebooks offer specific bets placed on teams. The Rose sheets offer specific bets placed on teams for April 10-11th. In the telephone records, the Dowd Report offers a complete chronology of the betting of April 9-11, for which we have the Rose sheets and the Janszen notebook. Specifically, on April 9th, Janszen called Chevashore twice placing bets [Dowd, pp. 119].
We can compare Janszen's records with the purported sheets. Janszen's contain four baseball bets: L Philly, W Baltimore, L Kansas City, L California, and four basketball bets: W Cleveland, L Sacramento, L Portland, and W Dallas. [Paul Janszen Betting Notebook, Exhibit 12, pp. 2]
Philly lost 7-8, Baltimore won 8-6, KC lost 6-0, and California lost to Seattle 7-2. Cleveland beat Indiana 111-99, Sacramento lost to Houston 112-102, Portland fell to Phoenix 128-122, and Dallas beat Golden State 125-100.
Looking back to the Rose sheets, we see:
There are also several bets with W/L that, if they were placed, were not placed through Janszen: Washington -2 L, Chicago -1 W, G. St -61/2 L, LA at Houst L, N.O. -2 ½ L, Boston L, San Ant E L. Making this page even more confusing is that San Antonio did not play the 9th but had lost the day before, Dallas did not play but has lost the night before, and Boston had played and lost the day before, which perhaps explains much of the confusion over whether the first sheet refers to 4/8/1987 or 4/9, even though it has 4/9/1987 written at the top-left.
What of the missing bets not placed through Janszen? Janszen testified that Rose split his betting action with Bertolini, who was placing bets with unknown New York bookies, in order to prevent getting deeply into debt with any one source [Transcript of Paul Janszen Interview, Exhibit 26, pp. 45-46]. Splitting through Bertolini could account for bets marked as W/L that are not in Janszen's records. At the same time, the Dowd Report's phone records do not mention Rose getting those bets out through different means. Rose's phone records [Exhibits 53, 54] don't show any outgoing calls besides a 976 number in Atlanta, and nothing to the New York area where Bertolini was. That of course doesn't mean Bertolini couldn't have called Rose, and we don't have Bertolini's phone logs, so that possibility can't be confirmed or dismissed.
The first page of Rose's sheets contains notation inconsistencies and problems I don't have an explanation for. We can at least see that there is a direct relationship between what's on Janszen's notebook and Rose's.
After the first sheet, this connection is clear and strong. The 4/10 and 4/11 Janszen sheets compare perfectly with the Rose sheets: 4/10 matches exactly. 4/11 matches exactly (Rose, incidentally, hit all but one of his eight baseball bets right that day, making almost $11,000, while missing all four basketball games, losing almost $9,000). Phone logs tie Rose to bets on those days.
On April 10th:
6:27 Janszen calls Chevashore
6:40 Janszen calls Rose in the Reds clubhouse
6:47 Janszen calls Chevashore again
[Dowd, pp. 120]
Rose won $2,000 on the Reds among his baseball betting that day. [Janszen notebook, Exhibit 12, pp. 3, also Rose sheets, Exhibit 38, pp. 2]
12:46 Janszen calls Chevashore
12:55 Janszen calls Chevashore again
1:55 Janszen calls Rose in the Reds clubhouse
1:59 Janszen calls Chevashore
6:36 Someone at Rose's house calls Chevashore
[Dowd, pp. 121]
Rose won $2,000 on the Reds among his baseball betting that day. [Janszen notebook, Exhibit 12, pp. 3, also Rose sheet, Exhibit 38, pp. 2]
Further, there is specific reference to these days in Janszen's deposition:
Q: And on April 9, 1987, do you reflect any betting? On the Reds.
A: No sir, I don't.
Q: April 10th, 1987, on the Cincinnati Reds baseball club?
A: Yes, sir, I do.
Q: Did you place a bet for Pete Rose on the Cincinnati Reds baseball club while he was Manager of the Cincinnati Reds?
A: Yes, sir, I did.
Q: On April 10th, 1987?
A: Yes, sir.
Q: And you placed it with Mr. Chevashore.
A: Let's see, on April 10th, yes, sir, I was still calling Steve Chevashore direct.
[Paul Janszen Deposition, Exhibit 38, pp. 46-47]
"4. No one can give any coherent explanation of what exact role these "betting slips" played in any bet."
This depends on James' definition of coherent. That they're not perfectly suited as a ledger does not mean that they aren't evidence that Rose was betting on these games.
"5. I have never heard the term "betting slip" used to describe something which would be in the bettor's handwriting, or would normally have his fingerprints on it…."
This is irrelevant. If the public used the term "damming evidence of Pete Rose's guilt" it would not make Rose guiltier, or more innocent than if they called them "the blatant forgeries by Fay Vincent."
"6. Rose's friends have, at times, claimed that the document is a forgery."
This is also irrelevant. Allegations without evidence are meaningless.
The examination of the sheets included the possibility of forgery: "The questioned documents were also examined for any evidence of simulation or fabrication, such as hesitations, tremor, retouching, heavy pressure throughout the writing, dissimilar letter formations and height rations, and any other differences" [Report of Richard E. Casey, Exhibit 71, pp. 3]
It is reasonable to assume they are authentic. That they would be forgeries and pass the test requires evidence, and to date no evidence has been provided that would indicate that the betting sheets are forgeries. There is no reason to believe that they are.
"7. The entire document is almost too small to determine whether it is a forgery."
This is false. The size of the document does not preclude the kind of microscopic analysis (cited above) on the handwriting. If it was true, this would not be a flaw, as almost too small, would still be large enough. The size of the document doesn't enter into its legitimacy.
Further, "But if it is a legitimate document, the question I would ask is, what exact role did it play in Rose's wagering?" [James, pp. 792]
The Dowd Report does address this.
"If we were sitting at Pete Rose's house, Pete would have a book, a ledger book, hard-bound, and then he would have a legal pad inside of it which he would put down his gambling wins and losses." [Danita Jo Marcum Deposition, Exhibit 41, pp. 8]
Janszen also testified that Rose used to record his bets on "a notepad." [Dowd, pp. 110]
James goes on to offer a list of possibilities he dismisses, and then gets into questions:
"Who placed these bets and with what bookie, since the Dowd reports specifically says that Janszen did not begin placing baseball bets until mid-May, and that Rose has broken up with his previous runner/lackey in January or February?" [James, pp. 792]
This is false. The Dowd Report offers a direct answer to this question in the daily betting summaries [for the April 9-11 dates, in Dowd, pp. 119-121].
As to the timeline-issue, this is also false. The Dowd Report does not say that Janszen did not begin placing baseball bets until mid-May, and further, it does not say that Rose had broken up with his previous runner/lackey (Gioiosa) in January or February. The Dowd Report writes that Janszen began placing bets in February of 1987 with Steve Chevashore [Dowd, pp. 52-54]. Janszen specifically testifies that as Spring Training ended, Rose had a meeting with Paul Jenszen and Steve Chevashore to set up how they would continue placing bets over the telephone through Chevashore, explaining the phrases they'd use to avoid saying Rose's name, for instance [Paul Janszen Deposition, Exhibit 38, pp. 36-37].
"If it's a bookkeeping record, why aren't there any dollar amounts?" [James, pp. 792]
This is false. On page 3 of the betting sheets there are dollar amounts for some games, noted as '5 dimes'. Why all bets don't carry amount notations is simple: Rose had standard bet amounts he had set. This explanation appears in the testimony of Paul Janszen: when he met with Rose and Chevashore for introductions and to set-up how things would run, Rose by default set his bet at $2,000 a game [Janszen Deposition, Exhibit 38 on pp. 37-38].
In his deposition, Rose talks about the need for standard bet sizes:
"A: I know how many games I won, I know how many games I lost.
A: And as long as you make almost the same bet on —
Q: So you've got your own —
A: It's not like you bet four thousand on this one, two thousand on this one, a thousand on this one, and five hundred on this one. I mean it's just like when I go to the track, I make sort of a standard bet. Which is easy to calculate.
Q: All right.
A: You know, if you start jumping back and forth, you're going to need a banker to be at your house."
[Rose Deposition, pp. 71]
You can see in Janszen's betting notebook [Exhibit 12], where he took detailed notes for Rose, the wins and losses are with few exceptions consistent with approximately $2,000 bets. Janszen testifies he tracked his money separately [Transcript of Paul Janszen Interview, Exhibit 26, pp. 25-26]
"Why does it stop after one or two days of baseball games?" [James, pp. 792]
The Dowd Report offers the explanation: "We obtained from Paul Janszen copies of three pages of handwritten records which Janszen took from Rose's home." [Dowd, pp. 110]. It would have been nice if Janszen had taken a whole notebook, certainly. But he didn't, and Rose didn't volunteer a notebook that was missing those three pages, or ledgers or other more detailed evidence. What the Dowd Report offers is a fragment. That it is a fragment does not in itself determine its value as evidence.
James then offers a one-paragraph return to his "betting slips" issue, arguing about the term and also says that "at that time the FBI crime lab was a prosecution factory, which would say whatever a prosecutor told them the were supposed to say." [James, pp. 792]
At no point is the FBI crime lab involved in the evidence presented within the Dowd Report. Even if James is right about the FBI crime lab, it would have no value in discrediting the evidence presented. The document correlation analysis in Exhibit 17 was done by Bill Holmes & Associates. Bill Holmes used to work at the FBI lab division. Richard Casey, who did the handwriting analysis on the Rose documents, both sheets, checks, and bank records [Exhibit 71], was previously employed by the FBI lab division. James Dibowski, who did handwriting analysis on the Janszen pieces [Exhibit 72], was previously employed by the Postal Service. None of the three was in the employ of the FBI while completing the work related to the Rose case.
"I'm not saying that this is nothing. I'm saying it is almost nothing." [James, pp. 792]
James focuses in his writing almost entirely on the issue of whether Janszen placed bets for Rose. However, while James wishes to focus his attacks on Janszen and James' theory that Janszen placed bets not for Rose but in Rose's name, this approach neglects much additional evidence.
For one, Ron Peters. Ron Peters took bets from Rose on baseball during two separate periods. Peters' testimony verifies all Janszen's testimony relating to his betting during that time. The phone records verify that both Rose and Janszen called Peters. Peters had no grudge against Rose: he came out of the experience even on money, though it was certainly a hassle for him. His testimony to Dowd opened him up to additional prosecution. He could have, as Steve Chevashore did, kept quiet and made things much harder on everyone. For him to lie would have required him to co-ordinate testimony with Paul Janszen, the man who as an FBI informant sent Peters to prison. Peters also provided betting records from much earlier, records he had saved because Rose owed him so much money.
And that is only the testimony of Ron Peters. As Fay Vincent has written, you might throw out Janszen's testimony entirely, because the most damning evidence is in the bank records, the phone logs, and even in Rose's testimony. Rose gives mundane reasons for making strange and elaborate payments: paying someone for memorabilia, for instance, is a perfectly legitimate transaction and shouldn't ever require multiple checks be made out to fictitious names, all under the $10,000 limit that would have required the payee to fill out a form.
It's easy to think of many of the people involved as the case as ne'er-do-wells, but if we are to discount their testimony, should we not also discount Rose's? He went to great lengths to evade paying taxes on card show income and horse racing tickets. He admits suspecting some of his associates were drug dealers, acknowledges he knew they lived far beyond their means, but did nothing, not even distancing himself. His deposition is filled with inconsistencies and evasions, and at many points is obviously and directly contradicted by phone records and other evidence.
Then James talks about people's general flawed views on the issue, and his assertions there have no bearing on the central question we're investigating. James ends with this:
"There is, I would suggest, a better way to think about it. Pete Rose is innocent unless there is proof he is guilty. I've looked at the evidence as closely as I can. The closer you look, the less you see." [James, pp. 792]
I would suggest that James has fallen prey to a most human weakness, and has seen what he wants to see: no evidence of wrongdoing. There's no amount of evidence that's going to sway him, no argument that's going to be good enough for James to abandon his tenacious protection of a guilty man. James' defense of Rose is filled with oversights, errors in judgment, failures in research, and is a great disservice to the many people who have looked to him for a balanced and fair take on this complicated and important issue.
Derek Zumsteg is an author of Baseball Prospectus. You can contact him by clicking here.
Thank you for reading
This is a free article. If you enjoyed it, consider subscribing to Baseball Prospectus. Subscriptions support ongoing public baseball research and analysis in an increasingly proprietary environment.Subscribe now