My Prison Without Bars

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by Pete Rose, Rick Hill



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New York 2004 Hard cover New in new dust jacket. Glued binding. Paper over boards. With dust jacket. Contains: Illustrations. Audience: General/trade.

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781579549275
Publisher: Potter/Ten Speed/Harmony/Rodale
Publication date: 01/08/2004
Pages: 336
Product dimensions: 6.20(w) x 9.32(h) x 1.36(d)

About the Author

Pete Rose is a legendary player and a fan favorite. He divides his time between Florida and Los Angeles.

Rick Hill has been a working actor, writer, and director in Hollywood for 20 years. He has written several screenplays including The Longshot, based on the life of baseball star Jim Eisenreich. As an actor, Rick studied with Lee Strasberg and co-starred with Mike Connors in the ABC-TV series Today's FBI and with Emmy and Academy Award winners such as Mare Winningham and F. Murray Abraham. Rick has also directed more than a dozen episodes of hour-long drama including the TV series Born Free. Rick lives in Los Angeles with his wife, Barbara, and their three children.

Read an Excerpt



"When they take your freedom--there is nothing scarier in the whole world."


Of the 17 baseball players who have been banned for life, none have ever been reinstated. But since I have seven major league and 12 National League records, you'll understand why I would like to add just one more "first" to my tally before I settle in for the big dirt-nap. Not that I think I deserve better than those other guys--I just love to win. I had only met Commissioner Bud Selig once before, but on November 24, 2002, Mike Schmidt and I stood in his office in Milwaukee waiting for a meeting that I hope will bring me back to baseball. Actually, I wasn't sitting. I was pacing. I'm what you call a "hyperactive" person, which means I can't sit still for any length of time. I was pacing back and forth, thinking about how to talk about something that I had kept secret for 13 years--hell, longer than that. I don't know why the Commissioner agreed to reconsider my case. Perhaps he thought it was time to mix justice with mercy and some good old common sense. Maybe he was struck by the endless chants of "Let Pete in" at the 2002 World Series where I appeared on the Master-Card All Century Team. Maybe he thought that after 13 years, the so-called deterrent value of punishment was firmly in place. I did know what Mr. Selig wanted to hear but didn't know how he would react after he heard it. Finally, my friend and Hall of Famer Mike Schmidt got frustrated by watching me wear out the carpet and offered some words of encouragement: "Look at all these photos, Pete," he said. "Just about every Hall of Famer in baseball is hanging on these walls and Pete Rose has more hits than any of them. Mickey Mantle's dead. Jackie Robinson's dead. Joe DiMaggio, Ted Williams, Satchel Paige, and Babe Ruth--all gone. You're one of the last men standing from the old regime. So just remember: Base-ball needs Charlie Hustle." Most folks know that I'm not a warm-and-fuzzy guy. I don't pick up stray dogs or send thank- you cards, and I don't cry at weddings--unless it's one of my own. But I'll be damned if I wasn't a little bit moved by what Schmidt had to say. So hell, I took his advice. I started looking at the pictures and it took my mind off the business at hand. I looked at a picture of Willie Mays--the greatest player I ever saw. Then I looked at Sandy Koufax--who could throw a baseball through a goddamn carwash without getting it wet. And I looked at Hank Aaron--the man who broke Babe Ruth's home-run record.

I kept pacing until finally I came face-to-face with another familiar face-- Ty Cobb, and you can imagine what that reminded me of.

The year was 1985, a warm September night, and I was one swing away from breaking Ty Cobb's career record of 4,191 hits--a record that stood for damn near 60 years. People have often tried to compare me to Tyrus Raymond Cobb but I just don't see the resemblance. Cobb idolized his strong-willed father and was pretty chilly toward his mother. As a rookie, Cobb was hated and shunned by the veteran players on his team. Cobb loved baseball with a passion and absolutely hated to lose. Cobb was involved in an alleged gambling scandal that drew a suspension from the American League president. Now, honestly, folks, does that really sound like Pete Rose? Aw hell, let's just get back to the night of the record-breaking hit. As y'all know, I've always been a media-friendly guy. But during the weeks leading up to the big night, I got radiation burn from all the cameras that were constantly stuck in my face. They were camped out at my house on Indian Hill. They were camped out at the ballpark, and they pretty much followed me everywhere I went. For 3 straight weeks, I did a press conference, TV, magazine, or newspaper interview every day of the week and twice on Sunday. I did an in-depth interview with Rick Reilly of Sports Illustrated and with Lesley Stahl of CBS. But to be honest, none of that stuff bothered me. I was feeling strong, calm, and confident about the whole situation. I had become the most media-experienced athlete of my generation. In fact, when asked where I got my strength to perform under such intense pressure, I just opened my jersey and exposed my T-shirt, which read: "Wheaties, Great out of the Box!" Everyone busted up laughing, which kept the press right where I wanted them.

Top of the first, Browning, our starting pitcher, retires the San Diego Padres in order. Bottom of the first, Milner flies out. Then I step into the box against Eric Show in front of a sold-out crowd of over 47,000 Cincinnati fans, who were screaming and shouting like crazy. I looked back at umpire Lee Wire and he said: "Time to make history, Pete." The first pitch was high, which I took for ball one. I swung easy and fouled off the second pitch and then held off again for ball two. Show's 2-1 pitch was a slider, down and in, which I drove to left-center for a single. Then the fireworks erupted and all hell broke loose. I rounded first and slapped hands with Tommy Helms, my longtime friend and coach. Then the fans just went berserk. Steve Garvey of the Padres stepped in and said: "Thanks for the memories!" First, they took away the baseball and then they took away first base, which I assumed was being sent to the Hall of Fame for posterity. Marge Schott ran onto the field and presented me with the keys to a new red Corvette with a license plate that read "PR 4192." Then I looked over and saw Tony Perez and Dave Concepcion--two of the best teammates in the world. Yes, sir, it was a pretty special night. I was doing just fine throughout the first several minutes of all the hoopla. But after they left me alone, I began to feel strange. I had no glove, no base, no ball, and no bat. It was the only time I was ever on a baseball field and didn't know what to do! Then while hugging Tommy Helms, I started to choke up. Helms gestured for my son, Pete Rose Jr., and while hugging Petey, I just lost it. I remembered all the men who helped me reach that milestone in my career, but during the 9th minute of the standing ovation, I looked up in the sky and saw the face of the only man I ever idolized--my dad, Harry Francis Rose.

In 1947, when I was 6 years old, my dad, or "Big Pete" as he was called, was the fiercest damned competitor the Feldhaus Football League had ever seen. On the night of the big game, I trekked along the banks of the Ohio River to get to the field, but like I said, I don't remember seeing a "melange." I was the team waterboy and assistant equipment manager--jobs I loved because they kept me on the field, close to the action. I hated sitting in the stands with my mother and my two older sisters, Caryl and Jackie, because even back then I had no interest in the idle gossip of women. In fact, the only time I ever went into the bleachers was to "pass the hat" for donations to help pay for the stadium lights and referees. Dad only got paid about 15 or 20 dollars for the entire semipro season. So everybody else had to chip in to help pay for the extras. But after the Great Depression, there was never much in the hat because nobody really had any money. I would usually get to the field 2 hours before kickoff to set up the water buckets and help my uncle, Buddy Bloebaum, chalk the field. Buddy was a real flamboyant man who wore a fur coat and fedora hat. He also had a secret identity, which I will talk about in detail later. Before chalking the field, I'd run routes, catch passes from Uncle Buddy, and imagine myself breaking long runs and delivering bone-jarring tackles just like my dad. But in my mind, I wasn't playing between the railroad and the riverbank. I was playing at Soldier Field in Chicago before a sold-out screaming crowd. Even back then, I had big ideas about my future in sports, ideas fueled by my dad's encouragement.

During this particular season, my dad was playing for Trolley Tavern, one of the five different semipro teams in the area. Dad played semipro football for 23 years including one year with the Bengals long before they joined the NFL. On this night, Trolley was ahead of the Comets by three points, late in the fourth quarter. Since none of the roster's plumbers, bartenders, or bankers could kick, a field goal was not considered a threat. Come to think of it, I'm not sure if the "field goal" had been invented yet. Anyway, Dad kicked off to the other team, fought off a block, and got blindsided really hard by some big burly-ass player. Dad's teammate, Shorty Goings, heard the bone crack and could see the pain in Dad's face as he pulled himself from the ground. "Damn it, Pete," screamed Shorty. "Your goddamn leg is broke. Take yourself out of the game!" "It's just a scrape for chrissakes," said Dad. "I'm fine." Shorty knew better than to argue because Dad wasn't about to sacrifice a year of Cincinnati's bragging rights over something as trivial as a broken leg. I ran into the huddle with the water bucket and offered the ladle to my dad, who just waved me off. As team captain, he never drank water until the other players had a chance to drink their fill. Then I looked up, expecting to hear a balls-to-the-wall pep talk. But all eyes were glued on Big Pete, who was very calm. But that was my dad--a man of strong presence. He had a square jawline and piercing steel gray eyes. When he spoke, people listened. He looked at his teammates and said: "I don't intend to lose on the last play of the game. So let's put on a big rush and stick somebody!" As they broke huddle, each Trolley player tapped Shorty on his special leather helmet, which was designed to protect the metal plate in his head--the result of shrapnel wounds Shorty got during the war. I laughed my ass off at that good-luck ritual, then raced off the field, where I watched Dad from the sidelines. It was cold as hell and Dad's breath looked like smoke in the night air--an image I can remember just like it was yesterday. The Comet's quarterback stood behind center and barked out the signals: "Blue 22, blue 22!" The wide receivers were lined up for what is now called a "Hail Mary." But Dad must've sensed a sneak play because he screamed, "Red Dog" to his teammates, which meant the linebackers were supposed to blitz. Sure enough, instead of the drop-back pass, the quarterback gave a pump-fake and then handed off to his fullback on the draw play. But the middle was all clogged up because Dad played his hunch correctly. He got knocked down while fighting off a blocker, but Dad crawled over, wrapped his arms around the fullback's legs and joined in on the game-winning tackle. As the final seconds ticked off the clock, a dozen other fans and I stormed the field in celebration. My dad had just won the big game and the Schultes' Fish House keg of beer that went with it. Dad limped toward the sideline, removed his helmet with his bloody hands, then looked into my eyes and gave me a smile-- one of the biggest thrills of my life.

Forty-two years later, I was looking down into the eyes of my own 6-year- old son Tyler. But instead of celebrating a victory, I was trying to explain why I was going away. No, this was not just another spring training in Florida or 3-week stint on the West Coast to play the Giants, Dodgers, and Padres. I had been convicted of filing false income tax returns and was being sent to the prison camp at the U.S. Penitentiary in Marion, Illinois. I decided to tell the truth and when I did, Tyler started to cry. He was not old enough to understand what was happening. But I didn't want to lie because I knew that sooner or later, he'd find out the truth. I swallowed the lump in my throat and thought about the pain my dad must have felt while making that tackle with a broken leg. But Dad's pain was physical and what I felt this day was emotional--a helluva lot harder to deal with! I grabbed Tyler by the shoulders and tried to explain that everything would be okay. But nothing I said made that little boy feel any better. The next few minutes felt like hours. I had no answer for the betrayed look in Tyler's eyes. My dad never let me down on any level and failing my own son was just too tough to handle. So hell, I started to cry, too--rare for me because, like I said, I'm not a warm-and-fuzzy guy. But I'm speaking from experience when I tell all of you dads out there--no pain is worse than when you let down your kids. Finally, my wife, Carol, ushered Tyler into the kitchen for some ice cream and a promise that he could come visit me on Sundays. Now ain't that a bitch? Trying to cheer up your son by telling him he can come visit Daddy in prison on Sundays.

Table of Contents

Chapter 1Hindsight Is 20/201
Chapter 2Between the Railroad and the Riverbank9
Chapter 3My Other Passion24
Chapter 4Breakin' in37
Chapter 5Highlights69
Chapter 6The First Time101
Chapter 7In Too Deep124
Chapter 8Busted144
Chapter 9The Long Hot Summer168
Chapter 10My Prison with Bars191
Chapter 11Lessons207
Chapter 12Pushing the Envelope228
Chapter 13The Long Road Back244
Chapter 14My Prison Without Bars267
Chapter 15Turning Point287
Chapter 16The Meeting306
Epilogue: My Dream318

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My Prison Without Bars 3.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 32 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
It was a very enjoyable and interesting book to read. Pete Rose tells you every detail about his life in the book. You will learn many new things about Pete Rose from reading the book. There are so many funny stories and events in Pete Rose's life, that when you read about them, you will find yourself laughing out loud. I recommend this book to teenagers who play and watch baseball. This book teaches a strong lesson, that you don't have to be the best athlete to be the best player. Pete Rose wasn't the best athlete, but he worked and practiced the hardest out of everyone on his time. Thats how he eventually broke the record for hits record and became one of the best baseball players.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Pete knew that betting on baseball would be trouble. He stated that in every baseball locker room it was posted about the life time ban for betting but he continued to do so anyways. What he does in this book is to present his reasons why he betted on the sport he loved so much. He weaves a couple of doctors names throughout the book to back up the claim of a mental condition. His reasoning now to have the ban lifted is that some murderers are freed after twenty years but that he must serve a lifetime sentence. I recommend this book for baseball fans to decide for themselves.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I enjoyed this book. The part in the beginning about Pete growing up was kinda borning but it does get better. From his struggles with gambling to his time in the Federal Prison which I thought was the most interesting. He has some real funny 1 liners in there too. He admits to his mistakes. You get to know not only Pete Rose the athlete but Pete Rose the person. How hard his old man pushed him. His mistakes of raising his own children and his attempt to get reinstated into baseball. I say the man has admitted to his mistakes now let him into the Hall of Fame.....Oh 1 more thing, you notice how we likes to bring up his records all the time? Seems to be a little cocky dont ya think?
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book was good and you should read it! The media continues to create controversy over Pete Rose's admission to gambling on baseball while being manager of the Cincinatti Reds. This book was most likely made to voice his ideas/ facts on the issue. But, my most favorable parts in the book, were the parts where he described other parts of his life. I found it interesting how much he loved his kids, and how dssapointed they were of him and how dissapointed he was of himself. There is a lot riding on this book: pete could possibly be reinstated into baseball and he could possibly become a hall-of-famer. He states that he does not want this book to become a 'cry-baby' confessional. He doesn't want you to feel bad for him and he realizes his stupidity. He is a brave man for being able to say he was wrong in front of thousand and millions of people. I commend him on his change. I dont want to ruin too much of the book for you, so i will end now with one piece of advice... READ IT! This book is 300 pages of pure interest to any person.
Guest More than 1 year ago
The book was dull and had some errors. Shane Spencer didn't hit the game winning homers in World Series. Chad Curtis slugged the homers and then wouldn't talk to Jim Gray because of how he treated Pete Rose..
JEldredge on LibraryThing 7 months ago
A very interesting read from the greatest hitter the game has seen, but this book ultimately seemed to have an alternate purpose - to attempt to sway Commissioner Selig into reinstating Pete Rose for the sake his Hall of Fame induction. It reads like one long confession, with a few notable moments.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Pete tells all in this awesome book
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Walks in
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Guest More than 1 year ago
This book was not really worth the time it took to read it. I was expecting a David Wells type tell all but Pete just goes on about his mistreatment. I once believed Pete should be in the Hall of Fame and signed a few petitions but never again. After reading Fay Vincent's book I was hoping this would show the other side of the coin. No such luck. Rose constantly finds somebody else to blame for his problems or throws down the terms his therapist uses to give him an excuse. Read something else.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I am a big fan of the Reds and grew up in the Pete Rose era. In this book you got to see everything from the Pete Rose mindset. I can understand his point of view but if he would have just held a press conference a year before this book and announced he gambled on baseball and he was sorry THEN came out with this book it would have made a better case for reinstatement. If you enjoyed Pete Rose and or Reds baseball you will find this book interesting.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book is worthless, it offers no insight and only belittles the game. Pete Rose is for whatever reason(s) is still unable to look at back on himself from a clear point of view. Every word out of his mouth is tainted by his inability to see life without blinders on.
Guest More than 1 year ago
NEWSFLASH! Pete Rose admits he bet on baseball! If that is the only question you were hoping to have answered by baseball¿s all-time hit king¿s recent book release, save yourself the $24.95. If you ignored all of the selective hype permeating the airwaves and cable channels and wanted to learn more about baseball¿s greatest hitter and how his 14-years of exile from Major League Baseball came about, than ¿My Life Without Bars¿ is a winner. Rose doesn¿t pull any punches in his tell all, released the same week as the announcement of this year¿s Hall of Fame induction, admitting that he has a gambling addiction, when it started and how much he bet. What makes ¿My Life Without Bars,¿ enticing is the candor in which Rose admits his mistakes, all without begging for forgiveness for the purpose of being eligible for the Hall of Fame. Like his playing days, Rose is a straight shooter and incredible likeable page after page. ¿My Prison Without Bars,¿ details Rose¿s betting habits in his early days of craving the action of betting football and basketball during baseball¿s off season. He continues to state that while playing in the major leagues, his day-to-day playing provided more than enough excitement to satisfy his cravings. It is his job status change from player to manager that led to his detrimental decision to bet on baseball, on the Reds, but always to win. If there is any disappoint to Rose¿s second book, it lies very early on in the foreword where the author gives an outline of his work but also makes clear that he suffers from both Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and Oppositional-Defiant Behavior (ODB). This psychological revelation so early on may turn off the casual reader picking up the book and browsing its early contents. Rose is not without venom when referring to baseball investigator John Dowd and his litany of accusations that led to his removal from baseball by the late baseball commissioner Bart Giamatti. He is also quick to point out that Dowd¿s report was filled with information provided by known gamblers and drug dealers who threw Rose to the authorities all in the hopes to gain a better sentencing deal for themselves. The book is not without humor as only Pete Rose can make a strip search seem almost humorous while endearing the reader to his plight. Along the way, Rose retells of his successes breaking into the big leagues, the friends he made along the way and how his punishment has never fit his crime. Rose¿s cardinal colored hardback needs to be read by fans, fully digested by the media and those who hold his entrance into Baseball¿s Hall of Fame. Rose is not only baseball¿s greatest hitter, he shows that he¿s a winner every time he is told `no¿. Hopefully Rose will get credit for time served, his book is a `yes¿ and let¿s hope the people who hold the key to his ticket to Cooperstown finally say `yes¿ also.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I am so burned out on the 'everyone else's fault but mine' card that gets played by these guys. I wouldn't walk across the street to shake his hand. The things I really enjoyed the most in the book were the incorrect dates (two dates off by a decade each), the wrong spellings of words, and the fabulous use of the exclamation point at the end of what seemed like every paragraph. When I finally reached the last page I felt that I could allow my brain to work again, because I think my IQ went down with each word I read. This book is a waste of time, I wouldn't recommend it to anyone, and he does not belong anywhere near Cooperstown.
Guest More than 1 year ago
If you love baseball, you will love this book. I highly recommend it. Pete and Rick do a wonderful job of telling his story.
Guest More than 1 year ago
If based strictly on Rose's play, hands down, greatest ball player ever. But this book, like Rose's life, was a letdown.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book is one of the few sports biographies that captivates the reader and keeps them wanting more. It gives you a chance to see it all through Pete's eyes. Great read!
Guest More than 1 year ago
Watch out, America! 'Charlie Hustle' is hustling us this time. He lies about his criminal behavior for over 10 years. Next, he 'sells' (his version of) the truth. And now that forgiveness isn't instantly forthcoming, he complains to anyone who will listen that he isn't being treated fairly. Pete, get over yourself. In the 'big picture' you were very good at a kids' game. Go away & let us get on with our lives. Please try to do the same. In this frustrating & increasingly fearful world we need to learn about people who overcame adversity or sacrificed in the name of principle to push us beyond what we perceive to be our limitations. We should be inspired to aspire, not be hustled by yet one more narcissistic, one-dimensional fallen talent unwilling to take his medicine in an honorable silence. For those who love baseball this is akin to being raped a second time.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Great read. I really like the inside on some great moments in Baseball history and some great tips on betting. This book is really a 322 page letter to tell Bud about Pete as Pete sees Pete. After reading this any one day at a timer will tell you that De Nile is not just a river. .. .. Pete deserves the Hall of Fame and Pete needs a GA sponsor. jd
Guest More than 1 year ago
Who among us is so perfect we can't forgive? Not me for sure. I'm speaking specifically of Pete Rose in his new book. Mr. Rose has come forward and admitted his past mistakes, and is humbly asking forgiveness in this book. I say yes. Pete Rose has a brilliant mind on the strategy of winning baseball, and a keen sense of player ability. There is foundation in the Bible for forgiveness of those so deserving. In my opinion Pete Rose qualifies. I say let him back in the game to manage somewhere and stand for election to the Baseball Hall of Fame. Bruce Lloyd
Guest More than 1 year ago
I am only 21 years old and this is the first book that I have purchased/read since high school. I am only 4 chapters in and so far it is great! You can't get a good review by these people who pigeon hold Pete Rose for all these years. You have to read this book w/an open mind and listen to what the man has to say. just buy the book and give him a chance.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Just another way to to get his name back into the spotlight. This man lied for 14 years. Should never get into the Hall of Fame
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is just one more ploy to get His name (Pete Rose) back into the 'spotlight' unfortunately the ploy seems to be working. The book is not enlightening as it tells the same ole broken story, 'I lied, but I didn't mean it till I got caught. Do not buy.