Coincidentally a day after Erick Lindgren almost won his first major poker tournament in years, divorce court documents revealed Pete Rose, Major League Baseball’s all-time hits leader, is still an avid gambler, 29 years after being banned from baseball for life for betting on games he managed.
Birds of a Feather
Lindgren and Rose both fell from grace due to a seemingly uncontrollable gambling habit. The former filed for bankruptcy twice between 2012 and 2015 after running up more than $10 million in gambling debt. The latter’s sports betting habit has kept him out of the Hall of Fame despite having more hits than any player in history (4,256), and his reputation is tarnished for life.
According to divorce court documents, “Charlie Hustle” has something else in common with the former Full Tilt Poker pro. His soon-to-be ex-wife, Carol, claims Charlie’s still hustling, but not to beat out grounders these days. Instead, she says he’s been hustling in the casinos, gambling away his more than $1 million annual salary.
Neither Lindgren nor Rose appear to have the testicular fortitude to step away from the casino. In 2012, Lindgren entered a gambling rehab program but continues to play poker. On Monday, he finished 2nd in the WSOP Circuit Main Event at Harrah’s in Cherokee, North Carolina ($181,000).
Charlie Hustle also cannot avoid the gambler’s lifestyle. A couple of years ago, he signed autographs daily at a retail store inside Mandalay Bay, steps away from the casino floor, and continues to trade autographs for cash elsewhere, his wife claims. In 2016, he opened a sports bar on the Las Vegas Strip, which turned out to be his 1,144thcareer strikeout when the joint closed down less than a year later.
Not-So-Happily Ever After
Pete married Carol, his second wife, in 1984, five years before then MLB Commissioner Bartlett Giamatti slapped the baseball star with a lifetime ban for betting on games while playing for and managing the Cincinnati Reds. The couple split in 2009, but the divorce still hasn’t been finalized.
According to court documents, Carol claims the “Hits King” earns a $1 million salary from signing autographs but turns around and blows that money on gambling.
Mrs. Rose also says her husband owes the IRS and unnamed casinos large sums of money. In a March court filing, Pete disputed her claims and said she is being “unreasonable.”
Life hasn’t been easy on the member of the “Big Red Machine,” a nickname given to the great Cincinnati Reds teams of the 1970s, since he was booted from the sport he dominated for years, winning an MVP, three World Series rings, and making the All-Star game 17 times.
In 2017, he was fired as a Fox Sports baseball television analyst after a woman claimed he slept with her during the 1970s when she was a minor. At the time of the alleged illegal incidents, Rose was married and had two children.
Pete had a squeaky-clean image during his playing and managing days, right up until word got out that he was betting on his games, which is the ultimate sin in baseball. He denied the allegations for 15 years before finally fessing up in his 2004 book, “My Prison Without Bars.”
Despite accepting responsibility, Major League Baseball still has refused to grant him reinstatement, meaning the all-time hits leader, who would have been a first-ballot Hall of Famer if not for the gambling, doesn’t have a plaque in Cooperstown, and probably never will.
Current commissioner Rob Manfred, following the lead from his predecessors Bud Selig, Fay Vincent, and Giamatti, has refused to give serious consideration to Rose’s reinstatement. For the past 29 years, baseball fans have debated this topic ad nauseam.
The topic is so hotly debated that many talk show hosts have attributed it to the birth of nationally syndicated sports talk radio in the 1990s.
Being enshrined in Cooperstown means a lot to Pete Rose. He wants the recognition that goes with being a Hall of Famer, but his continued gambling habit isn’t helping his case.