Pete Rose and Major League Baseball have reached an agreement that would allow him to return to baseball in 2004, and includes no admission of wrongdoing by Rose, Baseball Prospectus has learned. According to several sources, Rose signed the agreement after a series of pre-season meetings between Rose, Hall of Fame member Mike Schmidt, and at different times, high-level representatives of Major League Baseball, including Bob DuPuy, Major League Baseball’s Chief Operating Officer, and Allan H. “Bud” Selig, Commissioner of Major League Baseball.

The agreement includes removal of Rose from baseball’s permanently ineligible list. This would allow Rose to appear on ballots for baseball’s Hall of Fame, which bars such banned players from consideration. The agreement allows Rose to be employed by a team in the 2004 season, as long as that position does not involve the day to day operations. That employment restriction would be removed after a year, allowing Rose to return to managing a team as early as the 2005 season if a position is offered to him.

A spokesman for Major League Baseball denied this report. Baseball Prospectus stands by its story.

In December, several publications reported that Rose and Bud Selig met in Milwaukee last winter, and that lawyers for both sides were exchanging proposals to end Rose’s lifetime ban from baseball. Jayson Stark of ESPN wrote in a column August 7th that Reds owner Carl Lindner intends to hire Rose as the team’s manager and has agitated for Rose’s reinstatement for some time.

Pete Rose has been banned from baseball since he reached an agreement with then-Commissioner Bart Giamatti that included a lifetime ban from baseball for conduct detrimental to the sport, but which did not include an admission that Rose gambled on baseball. The August 23, 1989 agreement ended the investigation by baseball, led by John Dowd. Dowd’s findings are published at Dowd concluded that Rose had bet on games he was involved in, citing such evidence as telephone records including calls to a bookie from the Reds clubhouse, bank records of large payments, and betting notes that handwriting experts identified as Rose’s, which matched records of bookie Ron Peters. Baseball Prospectus has published several articles on the continuing controversy over Rose, including a lengthy evaluation of baseball historian and Boston Red Sox analyst Bill James’s criticisms of the Dowd Report. Rose has always denied that he has bet on baseball.

The agreement would secure a place on the Hall of Fame ballot for Rose as his eligibility window closes. Rose played his last season in 1986, and Hall of Fame eligibility rules require that a player appear within 20 years of the end of their playing career. There would be significant barriers to Rose appearing on the 2004 ballot, which would leave only one year of eligibility for election by voters at large. If Rose failed to be elected by a vote, he would have to be selected by the Veterans’ Committee.

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