Fans not shocked by Rose#039;s confession

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, January 6, 2004

CINCINNATI - Pete Rose fans who have urged the induction of the former Cincinnati Reds player and manager into the Hall of Fame were not shocked by his admission that he bet on baseball.

Fans in Cincinnati, where Rose grew up, said Monday that his record as baseball's all-time hits leader should earn him a place in the Hall of Fame even though he admitted in his new autobiography, ''My Prison Without Bars,'' that he bet on baseball while managing the Reds.

Rose had denied for 14 years that he gambled on baseball. In 1989, Rose accepted a lifetime ban from baseball for gambling and is trying to be readmitted to the game.

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His fans noted that at least Rose said he never bet against the Reds.

''I think it's a relief for Pete,'' Helen Thomas, 55, said of his admission.

Rose remains one of the most popular players among customers at Thomas' store, Skywalk Baseball, which buys and sells baseball memorabilia and baseball cards, she said.

''You won't convince me that he bet on the Reds. He's made some bad choices, yes,'' Thomas said. ''I'm a firm believer that the (baseball) Hall represents what a player accomplished on the field. Nothing can take away from what he accomplished on the field.''

Police officer Bill Fagin, 49, who grew up in Cincinnati and has watched the Reds since childhood, said he didn't think Rose's bets would have affected how he managed the Reds.

''You bet on the Dodgers and you're managing the Reds,'' Fagin said. ''What effect is that going to have on your outcome?''

Rose, 62, who received the nickname ''Charley Hustle'' for his all-out play and headfirst slides, played at Western Hills High School in Cincinnati before going on to star with the Reds.

Rose served five months in federal prison for his 1990 guilty pleas to two felony counts of cheating on his income taxes.

Reds fans remember No. 14 for his persistence as a player and his years of success, including his role on Cincinnati's World Series champion ''Big Red Machine'' teams of the 1970s.

''I used to wear No. 14 when I played baseball as a kid,'' said Brian Stoehr, 29, a lifelong Reds fan who now works for the team at its gift shop in a downtown hotel. ''He was a great player. He should be in the Hall.''