February 28, 2020

Reviewing the Pete Rose Literature

May 25, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

Pete Rose frequently said that he wrote more books than he read and that is probably true. He has had more major release books published than any baseball player of his era. With Cincinnati fans looking forward to the return of their prodigal son–for induction into the team’s Hall of Fame–this summer, I thought this might be a good time to review the Pete Rose literature. It’s a worthwhile exercise to look at them all at once because of the vast dissimilarities which the books display while discussing the same subject and the different stories from the different eras.

I should note that there have been several quality Pete Rose books by minor publishers, such as McFarland, but in the interest of brevity, I will stick to the major publishing house releases.

The Pete Rose Story: An Autobiography. 1970. Author: unknown.

This is Pete’s first big book. At the time of release, Rose was a local star in Cincinnati—he had hit over .300 in five straight seasons and had led the National League in batting the previous two. Nationally, however, he was known only as a good singles hitter and a guy who sprinted to first after walks and slid head first into bases. He wouldn’t have cracked anyone’s all-star outfield of Willie Mays, Hank Aaron and Roberto Clemente; or even been picked over Billy Williams or maybe Lou Brock. There had been no Ray Fosse collision, no Bud Harrelson fight, no 1975 Series; none of the rest. So the book is interesting as a jumping off point.

The first great mystery of this book is the identity of the writer. Yes sports fans, it says right on the cover that it is an autobiography, but we can safely assume that Peter Edward Rose did not sit down with a Smith Corona typewriter and peck this out. Nowhere on this book does it say who the real author is, so we must conclude that this is one of the good old fashioned ghost-written books; the kind that were popularly foisted on the sporting public in the first half of the twentieth century.

From his earliest days in Cincinnati, Pete was very friendly and cooperative with most members of the media and the Reds were covered by some great sportswriters in those days, three of whom—Ritter Collett and Sy Burick from Dayton papers and Earl Lawson from the Cincinnati Post—have been inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame writer’s wing. Possibly it was one of them; or maybe it was some hack lined up by Pete’s advisors.

From the verbiage and grammar, it doesn’t take long for the reader to conclude that Pete’s ghost-writer was actually Beaver Cleaver. And that’s okay. The book is written in the classic old-school style of baseball literature which was pervasive at the time—the kind in which the public was supposed to believe that all baseball players lived in a 1950s black and white television show. All those guys really cared about was playing baseball. Girls, money and the rest were not even a thought—or so they would have you believe. Of course at the time this book was being thrown together, Leonard Shecter and Jim Bouton were lurking somewhere in the shadows preparing their manuscript of Ball Four that would change the baseball literary world forever and render this type of product obsolete.

As a latter-day Huck Finn of the diamond, Pete recounts harmless pranks and high jinks from his formative years. His idea of mischief as a kid, apparently, was going to the local Frisch’s Big Boy (“where they sell those double-decker hamburgers”), order a Coke and sit in the booth for a couple of hours without spending any more money—scandalous stuff. According to the book, he enjoyed more of the light-hearted frivolity in professional baseball; just a bunch of G-rated jokes and fun among the guys.

He mentions several times that he never had much luck with the ladies [We will learn later that this is a gross understatement].

While Pete sets the basis for the theme repeated in every future telling of his story by mentioning repeatedly how much he admires and respects his father (who would die later that year), this book is otherwise totally without substance. He rambles for pages and, when you read and reread it, you realize that absolutely nothing is said. There is no insight and very few truly amusing anecdotes; just generalities and statements to the effect that his fellow players, owners, general manager, managers at every level, sportswriters, fans, umpires and even his army reserve drill sergeant were all “swell” guys. At the time, no one expected him to throw anyone under the bus, but he could have added some personality or color to his costars.

The book devotes 21 pages to Rose’s post-1967 season goodwill trip to Vietnam with Joe DiMaggio, who he repeatedly states that he idolizes. While there are some decent accounts of the various places they visited, a good editor would have cut this part in half, as it tends to ramble aimlessly long. Also, Pete informs us that Joe D was a classy guy no less than six times—class I tell you, class.

This book does shed a little light for Pete Rose historians in two important areas. It is obvious that Pete was an exceptional athlete—not the slow, plodding guy with no ability who made himself into a great player only because he willed it so (as some later historians would have us believe). Sure, Pete had more determination than anyone else and possibly worked harder and smarter as well, but he was nonetheless a great athlete to begin with, although admittedly a late bloomer. In football, he played halfback for a large Cincinnati high school and scored a number of touchdowns, sometimes as many as four a game, many on long, twisting broken field runs of 50 or 60 yards. Try doing that with only determination and no speed. He turned down a college football scholarship to the nearby University of Miami (of Ohio)—the place that gave us Paul Brown, Ara Parseghian, Bo Schembechler and Ben Roethlisberger—no small feat in itself.

Also, according to later lore, Rose was very lucky to be signed by the Reds at all, and only because his uncle badgered the front office. From this book we learn that the Baltimore Orioles were very interested in Pete as well. Pete had been a regular at workouts at Crosley Field for some time and was tearing up a Dayton-area amateur league, playing against mostly older men, as a senior in high school (because his eligibility had been used up due to repeating tenth grade). Sure, his uncle, Buddy Bloeblum, helped, but the penny-pinching Reds gave Rose a $7,000 bonus when he signed. That was more than they would give a young decent-looking catcher and second-round draft choice from Oklahoma five years later; a kid named Johnny Bench. So Rose was obviously at least somewhat regarded.

Pete downplays the later well-documented troubles he had with veterans while breaking in with the Reds as a rookie. He says he only noticed that “some of the other guys resented me” when reporter Earl Lawson mentioned it to him. He says it was only a few guys and “most of them were swell guys.” [in reality, almost every veteran except for Vada Pinson and Frank Robinson resented Rose a great deal—in part because he was so obnoxious—to the point that they tried to freeze him out and ignore him]. He does mention that Pinson and Robinson took him under their wings and helped him, without further explanation.

All in all, this book is somewhat hard to get through and in the end leaves the reader with very little true information. Read it only if you want to waste a few hours and see how truly ungratifying early sports biographies could be.

Charlie Hustle. 1975. By Pete Rose and Bob Hertzel.

This book moves us into the modern era. In 1974 Pete Rose was coming off a 230-hit, MVP season and was now a nationally-recognized force of nature. Pete’s co-author on this one is youngCincinnati Enquirer beat reporter Bob Hertzel. The book is a diary of the 1974 season, a season in which Rose slumps to .284—his first sub-.300 season since 1964—and the Reds chase, and can’t catch, the Los Angeles Dodgers all year, but it is sprinkled liberally with stories from Rose’s past.

This is the most entertaining of all of Pete’s books. It is filled with anecdotes, many of which are very funny. There are several items about almost all of Pete’s famous teammates and managers. There is also quite a bit of real baseball in the book as the Reds try unsuccessfully to overtake the Dodgers and Pete tries unsuccessfully to replicate his 1973 season. Hertzel does an excellent job of moving the story along and editing Pete’s memories. And he probably does the best of all of Pete’s co-authors over the years of showing Pete’s true “voice.” While Pete shows a salty humor, explains that major league baseball players sometimes expel intestinal gas on the team bus—and find it funny– and let’s fly with a few damns, hells and a shit or two, it is still essentially PG-13.

Overall, this is a very good baseball read and highly recommended to anyone who wants to know about the Cincinnati Reds and baseball in the 1970s.

Pete Rose: My Story. 1989.   Pete Rose and Roger Kahn.

I’ll resist the temptation to call this one “The Wrath of Kahn,” but in order to fully understand the book, and it’s afterlife, it is necessary to understand the sordid back-story. This book started out as one of those great ideas: let’s match up the guy who wrote one of baseball’s all-time most popular books with one of baseball’s all-time most popular players—what could go wrong? Pete was fresh off breaking Ty Cobb’s record and riding high. Kahn was in his early 60s—still in the prime of his writing career–and still basking in the glory of The Boys of Summer.

The book opens with the quote “Hey Rog, I’ll never lie to you.” The speaker was Pete Rose. We would later discover that the quote turned out to be quite untrue.

Kahn later stated that he had reservations from the start, but the publisher assured him it was a million-dollar deal—half for him and half for Rose. That promise was enough to pull him in. Things started off well; Rose was initially very cooperative and helpful in telling his story and allowing Kahn unlimited access. History stepped in, however, as life unexpectedly turned sour for the Pete Rose camp midway through the writing process—the whole gambling deal broke and Rose was suspended.

Kahn and Pete hung in there on the book, however reluctantly, and they used the last few chapters as a sounding board to advertise Pete’s total and absolute innocence to any and all charges. And this is where Kahn went wrong–he ends up looking very, very bad [you could add as many very’s as you want here and you would still underestimate]. This came to be viewed as his worst book and substantially damaged his reputation as a journalist.

As far as the book itself, thanks to its author, the first half is highly readable. It is written in conversational style, with Pete spinning stories and Kahn keeping the account moving and on target and interposing his own research. Rose recounts some of the same anecdotes as recounted in his previous books, however some have different versions. Kahn did a lot of legitimate journalism as he personally interviewed a large number of people from Rose’s past, including his first wife, his high school football coach, the high school quarterback, the football coach at the University of Miami who offered Rose a football scholarship, the general manager of the Macon Peaches and quite a few teammates from various years.  Many of the quotes Kahn unearthed for this book from these sources have been pinched liberally in future Pete Rose books.

This book provides the first mention of the since-oft-repeated stories of Pete’s father breaking a hip on a kick-off play in a semi-pro game and crawling to make the tackle, of toddler Pete breaking a window on their house with a line drive and his father refusing to ever repair the window—because it was a historic artifact, of his father spending money meant for his daughter’s shoes on baseball equipment for Pete, and explains the feisty toughness of Pete’s mother. Kahn also scores a print-first discussing the traffic ticket a married-for-one-year Pete got at 4:30 AM in 1965 across the river in the garden of evil, Newport, Kentucky.

On the downside, Kahn annoyingly and needlessly inserts himself and his views of politics and anthropology which, in truth, should have been hacked out by a good editor. He disparages former President Nixon no less than three times in the pages, once mentioning that unscrupulous writers tried to make Rose look “as guilty as Nixon.” This is curious because when the book was published, Nixon had been out of politics nearly twenty years [Editor’s note to Kahn: Get over it! Find a new source for similes].

Also, the account of Pete’s playing career seems hurried. Many parts are skimmed over abruptly, especially the Philadelphia years which are covered in about a paragraph.

This book is a much more earthy than previous Pete Rose books. There are quite a few f-bombs and Kahn hints at Pete’s well-documented womanizing ways, but makes light of them. He writes charitably of Pete’s first marriage, “with years, the love grew hard for both of them,” apparently saving Pete’s fans from the nasty truth.

The book takes a sinister turn and drives off a cliff suddenly two-thirds of the way through. This is the point in the narrative where the gambling scandal erupts. Perhaps Kahn is aware that, as an authorized biography, Pete and his lawyers have ultimate editorial control and he becomes so intent on making his collaborator happy with the book that he loses all sense of intelligence or reasoning. Or perhaps Kahn experiences a severe case of the literary Stockholm Syndrome. Page after page is filled with haphazard and nonsensical bleatings defending Rose from all charges. The diatribes against major league baseball and especially the Dowd report sound hollow and are full of holes. They are also very sad when viewed with the knowledge that we currently have.

Perhaps feeling a little self-conscious and having doubts himself, Kahn mentions in the book that Pete can be very persuasive when he looks you in the eye. I am reminded of a passage in The Boys of Summer in which young reporter Roger Kahn is intimidated by manager Eddie Stanky into believing, and printing, a complete lie. The next day Stanky laughs, admits his deceit and dares Kahn to do anything about it. Apparently, Kahn did not learn his lesson about looking ballplayers in the eye for the truth.

In a key chapter of the book, entitled The Gambler, Rose and Kahn lay out the defense of the charges of gambling on baseball: Rose was framed by low-life hangers-ons who were mad at him; all of their accusations were completely baseless and made up. And the alleged fingerprints on betting slips were smudged and hard to decipher. And Pete had handwriting experts ready to testify that none of the handwriting was his in the first place. And, anyway, Pete Rose had too much respect for baseball, and its rules, to ever, ever even consider gambling.

Kahn irreparably sullies himself by repeatedly making light of the charges and the journalists who pursued them. He writes of Rose being set up by “warbling felons,” states that the report of baseball’s chief investigator John Dowd “smelled,” and would unravel with the slightest review. Kahn writes that he hopes the career of Senator Joseph McCarthy would not be forgotten and compares Dowd to “Inspector Javert of Les Cincinnati Miserables.” Really? These are all Kahn’s words, not Rose’s.

As for Rose, he merely states unequivocally, “I swear I never bet baseball.”

For those not paying close attention, I’ll repeat: “I swear I never bet baseball.”

In the final pages, Kahn tries to rally by resorting to his old standby—fathers and sons and baseball. But by this time, it is much too late, for the book and Kahn’s reputation.

While the book sold briskly and shot up the bestseller lists, the voyeuristic public eager for anything Rose-related at the time, it was not quite the financial success expected. Rose, apparently busy with other items in his crumbling life, reneged on his promised promotional efforts. Kahn reportedly only got about $100,000 out of it—far less than the half-a million he expected.

The book became a permanent stain on the conscious of Kahn. When he later heard Pete Rose’s confession in 2004 that he had indeed bet on baseball, Kahn told a reporter: “I wanted to reach for a barf bag.”

He also said, “Pete Rose is the Vietnam of baseball.” For those of you who missed the 1960s, I’m pretty sure he was not thinking “beautiful jungles and deltas and a friendly communist government” when he said it.

Overall, this book is worth reading for the first half to understand Rose’s life and for the last part to watch a once-respected journalist self-destruct.


Hustle: The Myth, Life and Lies of Pete Rose. 1990. Michael Sokolove.

Unlike the previous book, this one was written without Pete’s consent or cooperation. Two-thirds of the way through, Sokolove lets us know that he asked Pete for an interview, but was turned down because, “If I talk to you, the book will make more money and I’m not going to do it because I won’t get any of it.” This, in and of itself, is not necessarily a bad thing. A good book certainly does not need the cooperation of the subject and, in fact, the author will not feel any allegiance to the subject and so he can print what he feels is the truth (see Kahn, Roger and Pete Rose: My Story).

The title says it all and this book reads like the hatchet job it was apparently designed to be. Sokolove does some good research, however he apparently framed his questions to draw out the desired conclusions. I’m not sure what Sokolove had against Rose, but he certainly appeared to harbor ill feelings for some reason. Virtually every story and anecdote from Rose’s life is told in a negative light—often where a negative light is neither indicated nor appropriate. There is also much collateral damage as he gives the same treatment to Rose’s mother, father and first manager, Fred Hutchinson.

While the book is well-written and entertaining and Sokolove is obviously a talented writer, in his zeal to crucify Rose, or perhaps make more money in book sales, he irritatingly makes some factual statements when a little hesitancy or waffling would be better served.

In reviewing Pete’s childhood and career, this book eventually becomes tiresome due to all the negativity. Sokolove seems to resent Rose’s popularity with both fans and writers. At one point he devotes several pages trying to prove that Rose was not a very good player—a complete revelation to a reader who actually watched most of Rose’s career.

Granted, Rose was not in the class of Cobb, Ruth, Mays or Aaron, BUT there is the little matter of about 4,000 base hits—the vast majority of which were accumulated when he was a productive player, not just hanging on trying to break a record. Sokolove seems to overlook the fact that it is relatively difficult for a man to hit over .300 fifteen times and get more than 200 hits in a season ten times in major league baseball (if it’s easy for untalented guys to do it, then why don’t they?). And, yeah, Pete played with some pretty good players but, regardless, they did win all those division titles and pennants and Pete certainly played a role.

Just when the reader is ready to give up, however, the book picks up speed. It excels when discussing the aftermath of the 1989 gambling scandal. Sokolove gives a very good review to the charges, the players in the scandal and the investigators.

He asks the very disturbing question of how a street-smart guy like Rose could be totally unaware (as he claimed) of the extensive involvement in cocaine and illegal steroids of his new friends that he hung out with at a Cincinnati Gold’s Gym—apparently obliqious to where their money came from as they flashed bling and fancy cars without any visible means of support, and as they openly discussed drug deals. And these thugs and criminals (all of whom were eventually convicted of drug-related charges) were allowed unfettered access to Pete’s Cincinnati Red clubhouse while he was manager.

Sokolove also brings up the question of why a guy who is a compulsive gambler and runs up large debts would refrain from gambling on the one thing that he knows best—baseball.

Sokolove details Pete’s extensive gambling phone calls (from his home and the Reds clubhouse) and losses to numerous illegal bookies in Cincinnati, Florida and New York. The mystery of why Rose was let go from Cincinnati in the late ‘70s is illuminated (in the Kahn book, Rose stated it was because of his impending divorce, in this book it is because Reds’ officials were worried about his well-known gambling troubles and the threat that mob-related men might break a leg or two).

Overall, this is a solid, entertaining book. The author had an admitted bias against Rose but this may be the best Pete Rose book to read if you want to know the closest approximation (which is all we will really get) to the truth involving his scandal. Read other books to find out about his childhood and baseball career.

My Prison Without Bars. 2003. Pete Rose and Rick Hill.

How can I be charitable? This one is just plain bad. Okay, actually, it reeks. And remember, that’s being charitable.

This book was supposed to be Pete’s Mea Culpa, his chance to finally come clean and, hopefully, put himself in good graces with the public and the commissioner of baseball. Unfortunately, it turns out to be an Everyone-else-is-culpa-but-mea. And nobody wanted that.

I’m not sure how much Pete really even contributed to this. The first few chapters seem like Pete just told Hill, “There’s already been a bunch of books written about me, just read them and summarize my early years.” Because that’s exactly what he did.

And apparently the Pete Rose book Hill preferred was Hustle. Because he lifted, word-for-word, several sentences and quotes from the Hustle book, without giving credit for the references. The sequence of events of Pete’s childhood are told almost exactly in the same order, with almost exactly the same anecdotes and stories, as Hustle. What are the chances that Pete, in his retelling of his childhood, would rely on the most negative book ever written about him?

It soon becomes very annoying that Hill does a poor job in the attempt to give Pete his voice in narrating the story. Basically, he achieves Pete’s voice by inserting “sumbitch” on every other page. Every friend, ex-teammate, or anyone else discussed is invariably a sumbitch. I had never heard Pete talk this way in interviews and he never spoke this way in previous “autobiographies.” Maybe the sumbitch just picked up a temporary habit. Who knows?

And for those who enjoy fine literature, we are treated to such classic passages as: “I’d spent 30 years of my life inside of dugouts and locker rooms. I’ve smelled my share of rank farts . . .” Ernest Hemingway couldn’t put it any better.

As far as the actual content, Pete admits within the first few pages that he doesn’t have any hobbies; except for gambling. That’s what he does, that’s what he enjoys. He admits that his gambling “got outta control” after he broke Cobb’s record, but then immediately explains how exciting and fun gambling is and proudly mentions that over the past 30 years he has hit more than a dozen pick-six tickets at racetracks (rather than coming off as a warning to others or even an apology, it sounds like an advertisement for the gambling industry).

Throughout the book Pete liberally throws in gambling terms such as “exactas,” “betting a dime,” “quinellas,” “the vigorish,” and explains that he used “a runner when betting more than a grand a game” and explains how the odds work at tracks. Once more he comes off sounding like a hardened veteran gambler telling of the workings of his racket rather than a guy trying to come clean and—maybe—change his lifestyle (which is what MLB wanted him to do).

The only change in the telling of Pete’s childhood—but this is a big one–is to insert several medical excuses that serve as foreshadowing and excuses for gambling. We’re informed that Pete probably had ADHD as a child and, oh by the way, it has since been proven (according to the authors) that ADHD is genetically linked to addictive gambling. Also we learn that Pete had Oppositional Defiance Syndrome, which made him always do the opposite of what good-intentioned people tried to counsel.

He continues this trend throughout the book. He lays on terms like Dopamine and explains that it is a chemical in the brain that is linked to gambling addiction and apparently Pete has high levels of it. No wonder he can’t control his gambling folks, he’s genetically predisposed and has high levels of chemicals so, you see, it’s not really his fault.

Pete prominently mentions several times that he and his father frequently went to the track to gamble with the fathers of local baseball players Don Zimmer and Ed Brinkman. So, the reader is left with the definite impression that, apparently, It’s okay to gamble because the fathers of other baseball players did it.

Pete blamed his gambling on (along with his genetic propensity and watching his father and other fathers) needing the competition after retiring from playing. He offers a lengthy explanation that gambling is actually competition—the bettor is competing against the bookie, “trying to kick the bookie’s ass.” While Pete admits that he used multiple bookies in Florida, New York, Cincinnati and Dayton, the bookmakers he used were “honest, working-class guys who had wives and families.”

And Pete also mentions that using the bookies was okay because his brother-in-law was a cop and told him they had never prosecuted a case against a gambler who used bookies, only the bookies themselves. So, relax fans, the bookies were all good guys, and the cops don’t mind, so it’s allright.

And Pete divulges that when the baseball season started, he was totally focused on baseball—no betting. “I always lived by one hard and fast rule: “You don’t bet baseball.” But then, on page 123, he suddenly admits that he did bet on baseball; he could not remember the first time, but was sure it was sometime in 1986. Hmmm.

He also states that it was okay to bet baseball when he was a manager because “I never took an unfair advantage. I never bet more or less based on injuries or inside information.” So, it’s okay to bet on baseball as a manager as long as you bet stupidly.

The book is sprinkled with frequent references to a wide cross section of famous people who battled various addictions or had overly competitive personalities: Robert Downey, Jr., Douglas MacArthur, John Belushi, George Patton, Joseph Kennedy, John Kennedy, Elvis, Rock Hudson, Bill Clinton and Babe Ruth, among others. Speaking of Babe Ruth and his habit of visiting speakeasies, Rose lets us know that “the 1980s version of the speakeasy was the racetrack.” So, again, it’s okay because look at all these other guys who did bad or embarrassing things.

And so it goes, over and over throughout the book. It becomes very tedious and difficult to plow through. The reader gets the feeling he’s listening in on a conversation between an elementary school principal and a chronically tardy student. Excuses, excuses, excuses.

The book pays only cursory attention to Pete’s career and the few anecdotes included seem forced, out of place and are often wrong as to the correct players or circumstances (again, with some of the obvious errors, the reader is left to wonder what Pete actually contributed). But just when the reader is tempted to give it all up and throw the book away, a funny thing happens: it starts to be pretty good. The last 50 pages are somewhat entertaining as Pete details his stay in prison for income tax evasion (a prison term which is ridiculous when viewed with the charges) and his fight against major league baseball. Pete gives an entirely reasonable explanation for why he lied to Major League Baseball and fans: an admission would have meant an immediate ban from the game. The book sadly ends with a meeting with Commissioner Bud Selig and Pete’s hope of reinstatement, which we now know did not work out to Pete’s liking.

Overall, this is a very poor effort and probably set Pete’s defense back years and made people wonder how much more is he not telling. Apparently there was more.

Unfortunately for anyone who actually spent money on the thing, the enablers at Sports Illustratedguaranteed this book a certain early financial success by running it as an excerpt, complete with Pete gracing the cover. One wonders if the editors at SI had bothered to read it. And, if so, were the sumbitches able to keep a straight face.

Pete Rose: An American Dilemma. 2014. Kostya Kennedy.

I’ll have to confess. I really didn’t want to like this one. After all the previous books, I felt that this was one dead horse that didn’t need any more beating. But I was wrong. Apparently it needed to be beat one more time.

Kennedy is a good writer and it doesn’t take long for him to establish the fact that this is a very good book. Despite my previous beliefs, I found it hard to put down and by the end I had become a Kostya Kennedy fan. Damn.

While Kennedy covers Pete’s career summarily and tries to add a few new interviews, he cribs shamelessly from previous books. He includes pertinent facts and negatives and moves along brisky. Don’t read this one expecting to find any new info on Pete Rose the player, or Pete Rose the west side Cincinnati kid.

The book shines in the second half when it tries to dispassionately evaluate the evidence against Rose and examines his place in baseball history. Kennedy does a good job of both.

Kennedy explains exactly how much gambling Rose did, and when, and where the boundaries were (apparently there were few boundaries). He cuts through all of Rose’s denials and lies from the previous two decades.

The personal interview with John Dowd is very interesting. Two decades earlier, Roger Kahn, in his defense of Rose, had compared Dowd to tortured Miserables Inspector Javert in his obsession to bring down Rose, and Kennedy’s portrayal evokes the same sentiment. But this time we can clearly understand why.

There is a lengthy section on Pete’s brother and his son, Petey. We learn that Petey had a complicated relationship with his father, who he apparently still idolizes, and spent almost twenty years playing minor league baseball, mostly with independent teams with no hope of promotion. He also pounded steroids and bulked up to 240 pounds in an effort to hang on.


In the end, there does not appear to be much moralizing. Kennedy presents all sides and evidence in the Pete Rose story and leaves it up to the reader to draw conclusions. And that’s what a good author should do.

*     *     *

So there you have it–a guide to Pete Rose literature. The Pete Rose question will continue to be debated among baseball fans for decades. Every fan will need to form his own opinion eventually. And it’s good to have some info in your pocket before you jump in.


Doug Wilson is the author of biographies of Fred Hutchinson, Mark Fidrych, Brooks Robinson and Carlton Fisk.

Visit him at http://dougwilsonbaseball.blogspot.com/

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