CINCINNATI -- Despite Commissioner A. Bartlett Giamatti's statement that Pete Rose's betting on baseball games was the reason for an indefinite suspension, the Cincinnati Reds manager continued to insist Thursday he never bet on baseball.
Giamatti, at a news conference in New York, announced he had imposed what he called a 'banishment for life,' although Rose can routinely apply for reinstatment as early as next year.
Giamatti said Rose signed an agreement Wednesday in which he neither denied nor admitted betting on major league games. The statement also said Rose acknowledged the commissioner 'acted in good faith throughout the investigation and proceedings.'
'The banishment for life of Pete Rose from baseball is the sad end of a sorry episode,' Giamatti said. 'One of the game's greatest players has engaged in a variety of acts which have stained the game and he must live with the consequences of those acts.'
But Rose, at a news conference at Riverfront Stadium -- which sits on 'Pete Rose Way' -- insisted he was innocent of the most serious charges.
'Regardless of what the commissioner said today, I did not bet on baseball. That's all I can say,' he said.
When asked why he agreed to accept the punishment if he weren't guilty of betting on baseball, Rose stood silent for several seconds before his lawyer, Reuven Katz, spoke for him.
Katz said Rose was disciplined for unspecified misconduct, with gambling on baseball never mentioned.
'Pete has admitted in his sworn statement ... to doing some betting, not on baseball, and other acts which we have agreed is the basis for the commissioner making his ruling,' Katz said.
'The settlement, by its very terms, is not to be be construed as an admission that Pete bet on baseball, and it provides that the commissioner will make no finding that he bet on baseball.'
He added, 'Pete has agreed to conclude this action, recognizing that it's in the best interest of his family, the Cincinnati Reds, Major League Baseball, the City of Cincinnati and his loyal fans.'
But the two sides cast differing interpretations on the agreement.
Giamatti said: 'I have concluded that he bet on baseball. I have concluded the factual basis presented in the (investigator's) report, which was not challenged in any hearing, therefore represents the factual basis. It makes no difference whether or not he bet against the Reds. It is the covert action of betting on baseball that is the issue.'
But Rose said: 'I made some mistakes and I think I'm being punished for those mistakes. However, the settlement is fair, especially the wording that says that they will have no finding that I bet on baseball. It's something I told the commissioner back in February and it's something I told you people the last four months.'
He also has hopes of getting reinstated next year.
'My life is baseball,' he said. 'I hope to get back into baseball as soon as I can. I've never looked forward to a birthday as much as my new daughter's first birthday. Two days after that, I can apply for reinstatement.'
And, despite his own admissions he had bet illegally on other sports, he said. 'I don't think I have a gambling problem at all, consequently, I won't seek any help at all.'