Title: Pete Rose: My Prison without Bars
Author: Pete Rose with Rick Hill
Publisher: Rodale Publishing
Pete Rose, the all time hits leader. Pete Rose, the man who is not enshrined in the Hall of Fame. There has been a tremendous controversy on the subject, one of the most heated in all of baseball. Many fans believe that Rose has learned his lesson by being kept out of the Hall for quite a few seasons, while others say a lifetime ban is a lifetime ban. Rose released his book in January of 2004, days before the introduction of Gary Carter and Eddie Murray.
The Hall of Fame ceremonies had a cloud over its head with Rose’s book. The spotlight was stolen from Carter and Murray’s big day, while the controversy of whether Rose should or should not be enshrined in Cooperstown stood at the forefront. Rose, never one to miss action, was at Cooperstown that fateful day, selling autographs to fans of baseball.
The book caused quite a stir in the press, to be certain. In it, Rose finally admits to his gambling on baseball, something he lied about for fourteen years. The all time hits king goes on to talk about his other gambling experience, as well as about his life growing up in trouble all the time.
The first chapter outlines what the entire book will be about: Rose’s troubles both with the government and Major League baseball. Rose then moves to discussing his childhood, which is filled with baseball (of course) and his father. The biggest thing that Rose brings up about his childhood is his difficulty to do well in school. The author claims he has ADHD, which takes away his ability to concentrate and gave him restlessness. Throughout the book, this is a recurring theme that Rose relates his gambling addictions to.
Chapter three discusses one of Rose’s biggest passions: the horses. After reading the book, one has to think that perhaps gambling overtakes baseball as number one in Rose’s life. Anyway, Rose describes his first day at the track with his father and how much fun it really was to place money on the ponies.
Finally Pete discusses baseball in chapter four, something all fans were waiting for. (Actually, the thing we’re waiting for is much later in the book.) In his first season in the minors, Rose met future star Tony Perez, who was fueled by the pursuit of excellence, just like Rose. The protagonist of the story continues by telling the reader just what the minor leagues were like, how Rose dominated, earned his first Corvette, got his nickname “Charlie Hustle,” and became such a media darling. Rose continues with his first season in the Major Leagues, in which he won the National League Rookie of the Year award.
Chapter five continues what the baseball fan wants: more about Pete Rose playing baseball. From Sparky Anderson taking over the Reds to the Big Red Machine cruising to World Championships, Rose gives the highlights of his entire career. However, Rose begins to show a little bit of greed when he discusses how he got his contracts. Rose would threaten to sit out an entire season if the Reds wouldn’t pay him over $100K for the 1971 season, a figure matched by nearly no one at that time. The Reds would not raise their price to that level, so Pete then went to members of the press to write favorable articles about him to help his case in getting a higher paycheck. If Rose was such a baseball-loving man, wouldn’t he accept a slightly lesser paycheck just to be able to get on the field? This was one of the things that perked my attention about Pete Rose’s character.
Chapter six moves to Rose’s post-career career: memorabilia dealing. Rose would help his friends Tommy Giaiosa and Paul Janszen in their business by donating things, while Rose would travel to their shows and sign autographs for a fee. These two would reciprocate by running Rose’s bets, whether it was March Madness, football, or professional basketball. Eventually, Rose, at the end of the chapter, says “‘Betting on the [baseball] playoffs makes the games more exciting to watch!’.” Rose finally admitted to the cardinal sin of baseball.
Rose tries to blame his addiction to gambling on ADHD in the next chapter, while discussing more and more about his gambling ties with Janszen and Giaiosa. He finally gets busted in chapter 8 for his gambling. Rose talks about the end of his managerial career before discussing his time spent in prison. He talks about the life of a prisoner very well before moving to the next part in his life: more gambling on horses.
In the last chapter, Rose discusses his meeting with the commissioner of baseball, Mr. Allan “Bud” Selig. He then finishes the book with a simple message: Rose has learned his lesson and wants to be let back into baseball. He does not offer an apology for what he has done, pretty much because he is a guy who can’t do that sort of thing. Many baseball fans would have loved to see something of this nature, but Rose does not give it.
All in all, the book discusses just as much, if not more, gambling as baseball, which is not great for the baseball fan. This book was issued as a discourse on his actions off the field, which must be understood for baseball fans. I give this book a rating of 2.5 balls.
Our Rating System is based on a four ball system as follows:
One Ball: Average. It has something to say but is nothing special.
Two Balls: Something men usually have - also means its a cut above average, and worth reading/owning.
Three balls: Stands out from its peers and is highly recommended.
Four Balls: More than just what two men have when hanging out together, it means it is an exceptional book that truly earns a walk - straight to the local book store to get a copy.