It was January 25th, 1989 and I capped off my Friday night sportscast for WCPO-TV with a story about former Cincinnati Reds manager Pete Rose and Turfway Park owner Jerry Carroll collaborating on the winning ticket for a large Pick 6 jackpot at the Northern Kentucky horse racing facility.
Among those who got wind of it, two IRS investigators who within days contacted me to determine if I had any additional information. I told them that all I knew was that a source called me from the VIP lounge at Turfway, attesting to the fact that “Pete and Jerry were doing handsprings…” over their good fortune.
Little did I know that the report would be more grist for the IRS mill, as investigators Leo Rolfes and Kent Marcum pursued a paper trail that eventually led to Rose. Even as Major League Baseball had undertaken its own probe into the Hit Kings’ gambling associations and inclinations.
I started to get some inkling that the trail was warming when Enquirer Reds beat writer Mike Paolercio reported that Rose was absent from Plant City on February 20, 1989. As this was in the opening days of camp, I called Paolercio.
“Do you think Pete could have been summoned to New York for a chat with the Commissioner?"
Paolercio said Rose had been acting a little strange to that point. He assured me he would poke around to see what he could find out.
Then, I called Dick Wagner. By this time the former Reds President and General Manager was a special consultant to Commissioner Peter Ueberroth, working out of MLB’s office in New York City. Shockingly, Wagner took my call.
“Mr. Wagner, sorry for the intrusion. Hope you are well. I have one quick question for you.”
“No problem,” Wagner replied, “what can I do for you Dennis?”
“Mr. Wagner, have you seen Pete Rose around the commissioner's office today?”
Insiders can see how that question influenced the local coverage of the eventual fall of Pete Rose.