High school journalism class heard it first

Updated: January 15, 2004, 8:01 PM ET
Associated Press

LOS ANGELES -- More than a year before he came clean publicly in his new autobiography, Pete Rose told a high school newspaper class that he bet on baseball.

During an hourlong interview with student journalists at Calabasas High School on Dec. 9, 2002, Rose was asked why he gave up a spot in baseball's Hall of Fame to 'do what you did," Ian Godburn, the school's journalism adviser, said Thursday.

"You mean, why did I bet on baseball?" Rose replied, according to a videotape of the interview.

"Well, it was because I made mistakes. I made mistakes. You know, when you do something, you think you're not going to get caught. It's not like I'm the only guy in the world to gamble."

He then asked the student a question in turn.

"If you're going to become an alcoholic or drug addict or spousal beater or a gambler, which do you hope to do?"

"Probably gambler," she replied.

"Probably?" Rose said. "Who are you going to hurt by gambling? You don't want to do any of the four. I chose the wrong one in the eyes of baseball. I admitted I bet on football."

The students did not ask Rose to clarify his comments and the editorial board of the Calabasas Courier later decided against using the quote in a story about the interview because they couldn't be sure it wasn't a slip of the tongue.

In 1989, Rose was banished from baseball for betting on the game. He denied the allegation until last week with the release of his book "Pete Rose: My Prison Without Bars." In it, he acknowledges that he bet while managing the Cincinnati Reds.

The book is heading toward the top of The New York Times' best seller list.

Rose has repeatedly refused to answer reporter questions at book signings. He refused to talk to The Associated Press Wednesday night while promoting his book in Santa Clarita.

Nick Reder, former co-editor in chief of the Calabasas Courier, said the editorial board decided against publishing Rose's comment out of respect for Rose, who appeared before the journalism class because he was friends with one student's father.

"He was doing a great favor for us," Reder said.

Also, Rose did not make an explicit confession, he said.

"I definitely would have jumped on the story" had he known Rose would later acknowledge to gambling, Reder said.

Godburn said he stands by his class's decision not to use the quote because Rose, in the same interview, indicated he had bet on football rather than baseball.

"When we put the paper together, I asked my editors: Should we put something in that we can't confirm? Should we put something in that we didn't follow up?" Godburn said.

"The editors really felt that they were doing the responsible thing and being responsible journalists and I fully agree with them," Godburn said.

"The thing that bums me out is that he did lie to my kids," he added.

Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press