Rose told the audience at an Indiana casino Saturday night that he "disrespected the game of baseball" and for years did not grasp the gravity of his actions.
"I'm a hard-headed guy. But I am a lot better guy standing here tonight," Rose said, choking back tears, the Cincinnati Enquirer reported Sunday.
Rose was banned from baseball over gambling allegations while he was manager of the Cincinnati Reds in the 1980s. The ban has kept him out of the Hall of Fame and prevented him from working for a professional organization.
Rose apologized to former teammates at the event, including Tony Perez and George Foster.