Will Baseball smile on Rose's resolution of debt?

Updated: August 14, 2003, 9:38 AM ET
ESPN.com news services

CINCINNATI -- Now that Pete Rose's $151,689 federal tax debt from 1998 has been paid off, the question is whether it will help lift the the all-time hits leader's lifetime ban from the game.

Patrick Courtney, a baseball spokesman, wouldn't say Wednesday whether payment of Rose's overdue taxes will help his application for reinstatement to baseball.

The payment comes one day after Baseball Prospectus reported that Rose already has signed an agreement to be reinstated by commissioner Bud Selig in 2004.

Major League Baseball's chief operating officer, Bob DuPuy, denied the report Tuesday, calling it "totally unfounded, totally unsubstantiated" and "journalistically irresponsible." Baseball Prospectus stood by its report.

"We believe that, in the end, our report will be found to be accurate," it said in a statement.

Warren Greene, Rose's business agent, said Tuesday that no agreement has been reached.

"We absolutely know nothing of it," Greene said.

A number of different sources familiar with Rose's situation have told ESPN.com's Jayson Stark in recent days that Rose's case will become a top priority for commissioner Bud Selig right after the World Series. And indications are that, barring some unforeseen development, Rose could be reinstated before Thanksgiving.

Meanwhile, wiping out the debt allowed the government to lift a lien on Rose's $1 million Los Angeles condominium. The lien was lifted July 10, but it took several weeks for the Los Angeles County Recorder's Office to report the move.

David Stern, Rose's accountant, said this year that the former Cincinnati Reds star wasn't attempting to avoid taxes in his 1998 return but simply couldn't pay the entire amount owed when he filed his return.

California lifted a lien in 2000 that it filed against Rose for failing to pay $2,772 in 1997 state taxes. Rose also served a federal prison sentence in 1990 for failing to report income.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

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