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My Prison Without Bars Hardcover – January 8, 2004

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Editorial Reviews Review

Pete Rose's My Prison Without Bars is written for a purpose: to make Pete Rose's case for the Hall of Fame. On paper, Rose's credentials seem unassailable. The all-time career hits leader, Rose owns seven Major League and twelve National League records from his 24 years in baseball.

The controversy comes down to Major League Baseball's Rule 21: "Any... employee, who shall bet any sum whatsoever upon any baseball game in connection with which the bettor has a duty to perform shall be declared permanently ineligible." In 1989 Rose was suspended from baseball after allegations that he gambled on the sport, allegations Rose denied. Thereafter, fans and sportswriters have speculated that baseball officials would re-instate Rose if only he admitted his guilt. In the book, Rose confesses--for the first time--that he did in fact bet on Reds games while he managed the team, though he claims that he never bet against the Reds. This would seem to be the "coming clean" that baseball was looking for.

Rose, however, doesn't seem ready to give up his fight. The book attacks John Dowd and Commissioner Bart Giamatti for the 1989 report which ultimately led to Rose's suspension. Rose picks apart the report showing that the evidence was either falsified or from unreliable sources. Yet, he admits that the document's conclusion--that he bet on baseball--was accurate. Rose declares guilt but still seems to believe, as he says, that gambling is a "victimless crime" and that his punishment does not fit the crime. He won't "act sorry or sad or guilty" because he is "just not built that way."

Admirers of Rose the athelete will likely be disappointed by the book. After a too-short recollection of his life in baseball, Rose dwells heavily on the gamblers, bookmakers, runners, and memorabilia dealers who made up his world when he could no longer compete as a player. In the end, My Prison Without Bars is an interesting historical document in one of the greatest baseball scandals of all time, but those looking for a record of Rose's amazing baseball achievements are better off consulting The New Bill James Historical Baseball Abstract. --Patrick O'Kelley

From the Inside Flap

Pete Rose
My Prison Without Bars

PETE ROSE HOLDS MORE MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL RECORDS THAN ANY OTHER PLAYER IN HISTORY. He stands alone as baseball's hit king having shattered the previously "unbreakable" record held by Ty Cobb. He is a blue-collar hero with the kind of old-fashioned work ethic that turned great talent into legendary accomplishments.

Pete Rose is also a lifelong gambler and a sufferer of oppositional defiant disorder. For the past 13 years, he has been banned from baseball and barred from his rightful place in the Hall of Fame-- accused of violating MLB's one taboo. Rule 21 states that no one associated with baseball shall ever gamble on the game. The punishment is no less than a permanent barring from baseball and exclusion from the Hall of Fame.

Pete Rose has lived in the shadow of his exile. He has denied betting on the game that he loves. He has been shunned by MLB, investigated by the IRS, and served time for tax charges in the U.S. Penitentiary in Marion, Illinois.

But he's coming back.

Pete Rose has never been forgotten by the fans who loved him throughout his 24-year career. The men he played with have stood by him. In this, his first book since his very public fall from grace, Pete Rose speaks with great candor about all the outstanding questions that have kept him firmly in the public eye. He discloses what life was like behind bars, discusses the turbulent years of his exile, and gives a vivid picture of his early life and baseball career. He also confronts his demons, tackling the ugly truths about his gambling and his behavior.

MY PRISON WITHOUT BARS is Pete Rose's full accounting of his life. No one thinks he's perfect. He has made mistakes-- big ones. And he is finally ready to admit them.

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.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Rodale Books; First Edition edition (January 8, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1579549276
  • ISBN-13: 978-1579549275
  • Product Dimensions: 6.2 x 1.4 x 9.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (87 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #670,934 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By sporkdude on December 3, 2005
Format: Hardcover
The title of this book is very appropriate. Pete Rose seems to think everyone is out to get him, and so his ego is in a prison when someone doesn't agree with him. This book is suppose to convince people that he was mistreated by baseball. However, this had the opposite effect on me. I thought he got a raw deal before reading this book. Now, after reading this, I have to agree with Major League Baseball.

First off, the good. It is a very revealing book. It does take guts to write about his life, especially his stint in prison (the one with bars). I found it to be insightful and somewhat interesting. It's definitely a book that anyone can pick up. As a casual read, it's not too bad.

Now, if you wanted to learn about Pete Rose and his struggle with MLB, it's entirely different. Throughout this book, he plays the constant victim. He almost seems like he is whining. While he does have some valid points, his constant complaints seem to lesson all degrees of agreeability. The worst is the treatment he talks about when he first deals with MLB. Reading it, it's quite clear that he was in denial about betting on baseball, even until the latter chapters. He describes how the media, and Jim Gray especially, mistreated him by accusing him of betting on baseball. Well, I hate to break it to you Pete, but you did. The media was right.

When he does finally admit it, he doesn't describe his actions, but describes how his "disease" forced him into it. Really pathetic. This sort of defeatism perpetuates throughout the book.

Even though the book interested me and was very fluid, I was very disappointed with it. I would not recommend this book due to its whining and victimization tilt.
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40 of 52 people found the following review helpful By James Sadler on January 9, 2004
Format: Hardcover
When I was a kid and still loved baseball, Pete Rose was Charlie Hustle, a nickname given him by Whitey Ford. And he was among my favorite players. The nickname was a reference to Rose's all-out play and determination (this was guy that ran to first base even when he got a walk). With the publication of this book, it's clear he is still Charlie Hustle, only the hustle is a completely different kind that he's trying to run by the public at large.

In his forward, Rose explains that he's finally confessing to betting on baseball because "it's time" and because someone "else might benefit." But as you read the book, it becomes apparent very quickly exactly who is meant to benefit-- Pete. After all, it's no secret Rose has been hustling for money for years and he reportedly received a one million dollar advance for this book. Sadly, it's clearly an autobiography intended to sell the public on granting absolution, with as little contriteness as possible.
Ross was banned from baseball in 1989 for his gambling activities. For years he denied it, excoriating others who accused him of having done so. Why 14 years later it is suddenly time to come clean, other than for the money and the chance to be reinstated in baseball, is beyond me. And if this is supposed to be a confession, it sure is an odd one. The book acts more as a rationalization for Rose's actions, going so far as to try to justify some of Rose's actions by having a doctor state Rose is a textbook case of ADHD attention disorder. Heck, he even gets into blaming his childhood teachers because they didn't understand him. Please...
Rose occasionally musters enough self-respect to say that he blames himself for his problems, but that rings pretty hollow in light of all the other pages spent pointing fingers at others.
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28 of 36 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on January 9, 2004
Format: Hardcover
Ghost written BS. A poor campaign for reinstatement so he can get into the hall of fame. Great ball player of the past. always an immature, narcisist who wouldn't know truth or honor if it beaned him in the forehead. Read the various articles over the years from Sports Illustrated if you want to know about the real Pete Rose. Read the book if you want to read a hallmark card to himself.
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16 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Dai-keag-ity on August 18, 2005
Format: Hardcover
Don't read this book. I wish I hadn't. It ruined Pete Rose in my eyes, not because of what others have said about him, but because of what Rose said about himself. My grandpa was a huge fan of Pete Rose and once took me to meet him at Riverfront Stadium when I was around six. About the only thing I'm glad for with this book is it didn't come out in my grandpa's lifetime.

We all make mistakes. We're only human and that's what humans do: we screw up. Sometimes badly. I wish Pete Rose was in the Hall of Fame. I wish he was coaching the Reds today. I wish most of all he'd never placed a single bet on baseball. But as for Pete, like I said up there, he still doesn't get it, and I doubt he ever will.

This book was a disappointment for many reasons. It did give me a nice look at Pete's career with the Cincinati Reds and took me back to my grandfather's tales of how great the Big Red Machine of the 1970's was, but what was lacking in these 322 pages was contrition, and I think that was supposed to be what this book was about.

The Pete Rose I met in My Prison Without Bars, was a likable fellow, but underneath his trip down memory lane was a sort of combative, "this is somebody else's fault" attitude that put me off and I'm sure put a lot of others off, too. Rose admits at last that he in fact bet on baseball during the 1980's, a fact that surprised virtually no one, but instead of presenting an apology, or even a straightforward confession, Rose comes across as a bitter man, still trying to squirm away from his wrongdoing. He blames everyone from his friends and business associates, to Major League baseball (for not forgiving his gambling addiction as it did the drug and alcohol addicitons of other players).
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