Rose-Colored Glasses: Competing Media Perceptions of the Pete Rose Betting Scandal

in Sport History Review

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Craig GreenhamUniversity of Windsor

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In a 2004 autobiography, legendary player Pete Rose confessed to gambling on baseball games, even those that included his Cincinnati Reds. The passage of time has clarified much about the betting scandal that plagued Major League Baseball (MLB) in 1989. Over the course of the six-month saga, Rose’s denials and his adversarial relationship with the Commissioner’s Office shrouded MLB’s investigation in controversy. This study explores the press coverage of the scandal in 1989 and determines that the Cincinnati press was more sympathetic to, and supportive of Rose than out-of-market coverage, represented in this investigation by The New York Times. These findings are consistent with previous research that indicates that local media favors hometown institutions during times of crisis. This study expands that theory by demonstrating that favoritism extends to individual players whose connection to the city is significant, and furthers our understanding of the media’s role in shaping the narratives of scandal.

Greenham ( is with the Department of Kinesiology, University of Windsor, Windsor, Ontario, Canada.

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