<
>

Rose-signed balls: 'I'm sorry I bet on baseball'

9/19/2006 - MLB

CINCINNATI -- Pete Rose never expected baseballs bearing his
autograph and a printed apology for betting on baseball to be sold
publicly, his business agent said Monday.

A New Jersey auction house plans to put 30 such balls up for bid
in April, unsure how much they'll fetch. The baseballs belonged to
a memorabilia collector who died last December.

Baseball's banished hits king signed the baseballs for some of
his friends about a year ago, but didn't want them put up for sale,
according to business agent Warren Greene.

"These guys are collectors. Pete signed for them," Greene
said, in a phone interview. "Pete made zero dollars for signing
them."

The baseballs say "I'm sorry I bet on baseball" in block
letters, with Rose's autograph directly below. Greene didn't know
who suggested the inscription.

Rose accepted a lifetime ban for gambling in 1989, but denied
for nearly 15 years that he bet on baseball. He finally
acknowledged in his latest autobiography, published in January
2004, that he made baseball wagers while he managed the Cincinnati Reds.

During his exile from baseball, Rose has made a living in part
off his memorabilia signings. During an appearance years ago, he
agreed to sign a fan's copy of baseball's Dowd Report, which
contained the evidence that he bet on baseball.

Greene said a collector who got some of the "I'm sorry"
baseballs gave 30 of them to Barry Halper, a limited partner in the
New York Yankees who died last December. The family contacted
Robert Edward Auctions to sell his sports memorabilia.

"There was a box of these baseballs," auction house president
Robert Lifson said. "When I saw them, I couldn't help but
thinking, 'Wow.'"

Lifson couldn't guess how much fans will bid for the apology
baseballs. Rose's Web site features autographed balls for $86.99.
Other balls with inscriptions such as "Hit King" are offered for
$104.