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Pete Rose on Gambling, Baseball and His Future

This is a partial transcript from The O'Reilly Factor, January 9, 2003.

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BILL O'REILLY, HOST:  In the second Personal Story segment tonight, baseball superstar Pete Rose has been banished from the game for 14 years, as you may know.  He bet on sports, and that's forbidden.  Now he's written a new book called "Pete Rose: My Prison Without Bars."  And here he is.

I want to have a man-to-man talk with you, all right?  Can we do that?

PETE ROSE, FORMER BASEBALL ALL-STAR:  You're pretty big for me, though.

O'REILLY:  Can we strip away all the B.S.?

ROSE:  OK.

O'REILLY:  All right?  Just like we're in the dugout here.

What do you want to accomplish?  What do you want at this point in your life?

ROSE:  Well, first of all, Bill, the book come out this week, but, actually, I got this off of my shoulders 14 months ago when I met with Bud Selig (search), one-on-one with Mr. Selig in the commissioner's office in Milwaukee, and I told him that, and that was the first time since I was suspended that I was ever able to sit down with the commissioner and talk to him.  That's how long and how hard it was for me to get a hold of the commissioner.

And to me, that's important, you know, because my -- I've been living with this lie for 14 years, and it's my fault, and I wish I could erase it, but I really can't erase it.  It happened.  I have to live with it.

And now it's kind of off my shoulders, and, this week, I took the same monkey off my shoulders as far as the fans are concerned because now everybody in the world knows it.

Fifteen months ago...

O'REILLY:  All right, but -- all right, but what do you...

ROSE:  ... Bud Selig...

O'REILLY:  What do you -- look, the confessional -- we got it.

ROSE:  Yes.

O'REILLY:  It's fine.  What do you want to happen now?  What happens -- what do you want to happen?

ROSE:  Well, it -- I would love to be reinstated.

O'REILLY:  All right.  So you want to be reinstated to the game so you can be a manager?

ROSE:  Well, whatever I can do best to help baseball because...

O'REILLY:  All right.  So you want to get back on the payroll, if possible.  What else?

ROSE:  Then, if you get reinstated, you're eligible for the Hall of Fame (search).  Now I can't separate the two, Bill.  I think they're equally important.

O'REILLY:  All right.  So back in the game, Hall of Fame.

Now the sportswriters -- and I don't have a lot of use for the newspaper people.  I mean they come after me like crazy.  But they want you to grovel.  They want you -- you're not groveling enough for them.

ROSE:  Well, I think -- I think I can be well in that department on TV shows, remorseful on TV shows and radio shows, but, as you know, it's kind of hard to be as remorseful as I should be when you're sitting down writing it on pages of paper.

O'REILLY:  But do you want to be remorseful?

ROSE:  Sure, sure.  I'm...

O'REILLY:  You do?

ROSE:  I'm the sorriest guy in the world this happened.  I mean I -- I know I embarrassed myself.  I hurt a lot of fans.

O'REILLY:  But you did it for 14 years.  I mean, you know, usually you get remorse after maybe a couple of months.

ROSE:  Well, if you have somebody to tell and I had no one to tell.

O'REILLY:  You could have told me.

ROSE:  Well, I...

O'REILLY:  I'm your pal.

ROSE:  Yes, but I'm -- you're my pal, but you're not going to reinstate me into baseball.

O'REILLY:  Yes, but...

ROSE:  See, I'm a little different than you.

O'REILLY:  Whoa, whoa, whoa.  You don't get remorseful because you want something.  You get remorseful because it's wrong.

ROSE:  Well, you're right about that, but -- but my whole life from here on out is in the hands of one man, and that one man is Bud Selig...

O'REILLY:  Right.

ROSE:  ... as far as doing things that I'm capable of doing.  I'm a baseball person like you're a TV guy.  You know, that would be like if you got in trouble next week and the guy says, Bill, you can never talk into a microphone again.

O'REILLY:  But what I'm getting from you is that this remorse is almost selfish.

Now maybe-- I can't read your mind.  So I don't know.  But let me -- let me put forth this to you.  You know sports is in trouble these days because athletes do terrible things all the time.  I mean, you know, rape and drugs -- on and on and on and on.

Wouldn't it have been better for you to say, look, I made a terrible mistake, all right, I don't want anything, I want to make this mistake right so that kids who idolize me and other sports figures won't do what I did?

See, if you had done it without the attachment to -- do you see what I mean?

ROSE:  You're right.  You're right.  But I did also say that maybe -- maybe somehow we can take this negative and make it a positive as far as future baseball players, if they even think about gambling, will see what happened to Pete Rose because I think you'll agree I wasn't -- I wasn't slapped on the wrist.

O'REILLY:  No, you got -- you got nailed, but you should have gotten nailed.  I mean the worst thing...

ROSE:  That's right.  You're right.

O'REILLY:  ... you can do is bet on the games because then the whole thing falls apart.

But, see, my problem is I would never judge you, I wouldn't, and I think the sportswriters are, and that just tees me off because they've got no right to judge anybody those -- but I would never judge you.

But what I'm saying to you is from the outside just with no emotion -- you know, you're going on "Oprah," right?  You'll have plenty of emotion there.  And if you cry, you'll sell a hundred thousand more books.

ROSE:  But, see -- see, here's another thing in my head, Bill, and I -- help me with this.  Now if I'd have took 15, 16 more pages of my book and said, I'm sorry, I'm sorry, I'm sorry, then I can just see it right now that Pete's phony in his book.

See, the problem I have is this.  You know what kind of player I was, how I played.

O'REILLY:  Right.

ROSE:  All out, aggressive, knock you on your butt...

O'REILLY:  You're a macho man.

ROSE:  ... anything, and it's -- it's hard -- it's hard for me to be remorseful the way people want.  It's not my personality.

O'REILLY:  But here's -- here's the problem with it.  It's the timing of it.  That's the problem.  The timing is that Rose is doing this because he wants to get back in the game, wants to get in the Hall of Fame.  He's only got two more years to get in the Hall, and -- and the upside is you're going to make a ton of dough on this book.  You're going to make a lot of money on this confessional book.

ROSE:  Well, there again, getting back to 14 months ago when I left that meeting with Bud Selig and Mike Schmidt and Warren Green and Bob DuPuy, I was very confident as far as getting reinstated.  I mean we had good feelings from that meeting.

And, all of a sudden, 14 months go by, and I've been working with Rick Hill...

O'REILLY:  It's a political thing.

ROSE:  I've been working with Rick on this book three-and-a-half years.

O'REILLY:  Yes.  You know what I would do if I were?  I wouldn't worry about getting reinstated.  I would just tell my story in a cautionary tale, and I'd give half the proceeds of the book to some Gamblers' Anonymous charity or some kind of addiction charity.  That's what I would do, but you do what you want.

ROSE:  That's a good idea.

O'REILLY:  How -- it must be tough for a guy -- it's like I -- I played a lot of baseball, and I interviewed you one time.

ROSE:  You should have played basketball.

O'REILLY:  Well, I couldn't jump.  You know, Irish guys can't jump.

But it must be really hard for you to sit across from a guy like me and all the other interviewers and get grilled like this.  Don't you just want to slap us?

ROSE:  No, because...

O'REILLY:  Come on.  Tell the truth.  Don't you want to slap me?

ROSE:  No, what I -- no, no.  Not at all.  I want to kill you with kindness because...

O'REILLY:  Because that's what your handlers told you?

ROSE:  You've got -- no, because I was wrong.  I was wrong, I made a big mistake, and I just can't say I'm sorry enough about the mistake.  And I'm just trying to put it behind me, Bill.  I just...

O'REILLY:  Yes, I know.

ROSE:  I want to go on with my life.  I just want to put it behind me.  And, you know, I'm still young enough that I've got a productive life ahead, I hope, you know, and...

O'REILLY:  Yes.

ROSE:  ... don't block home...

O'REILLY:  Well, Americans are a very forgiving people.

ROSE:  And don't block home plate with your book because I will bowl you over.

O'REILLY:  You will, I mean, and that's why I know this is hard for you.  But I want to say two things here.  Americans are a very forgiving people...

ROSE:  Yes.

O'REILLY:  ... and I think they will forgive you.

Number two, I do some book signings because I -- you know, I've got a big book and all of this.  Rose sits there for hours.  He doesn't have to sit there contractually.  He's not obligated to sit there.  He sits there for hours when people wait on line.  He doesn't bail like a lot of other people bail after two hours or so.  He signs everybody's book who shows up.  All right?

Now, as a guy who knows what this is, how painful it is to sit there for five hours and sign more than a thousand books, that impressed me more than your confession, than your appearance or any -- the fact that for the regular folks, you're signing the book, and you're not -- there's no attitude.  So I just wanted people to know that because you wouldn't tell them and all of that.

All right.  You've got the last word on this, Rose.  What do you want to say?

ROSE:  Well, I think that the most important thing to me is fans.  I think you have to repay the fans, and I've got to work hard to get the respect back from the fans, just like in your occupation the most important thing -- and you've got it -- is viewers.  They're what make you tick.  They're what make you go.  Without the viewers, without the fans, we have nothing.  So I think the fans are awfully important.

O'REILLY:  All right.  We wish you good luck.

ROSE:  Thanks.  Thank you, Bill.

O'REILLY:  Thanks for coming on The Factor.  We appreciate it.  I enjoyed the conversation.

ROSE:  Continued success.

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