Pete Rose finallyhas the balls to say he's sorry.
Yes, he spent 15years denying he gambled on baseball while managing the Reds, but that wasthen. This is now, and Robert Edward Auctions (REA) says that next April itwill put up for bid 30 baseballs Rose signed with a mea culpa that he firstmade in his 2004 book, My Prison Without Bars: "I'm sorry I bet onbaseball."
REA acquired theballs earlier this year, when the family of √ºbercollector Barry Halper, whodied last December, let president Robert Lifson sift through items in Halper'sestate. "What really hit me when I saw these," Lifson says, "isthat there will never be a Hall of Famer who signs, 'I bet on baseball.'"Lifson expects the balls to fetch substantially more than the $25 to $50 a Roseautograph usually goes for, possibly upward of $1,000 each. "They lookedmore like what's going to be on his tombstone," he says.
Lifson doesn't knowhow Halper got the balls or when Rose signed them. (Rose's agent, WarrenGreene, didn't return calls from SI; he confirmed the balls' authenticity toSports Collectors Digest, a memorabilia trade publication, last week.) Anothermystery: Where are the rest of the Confession Balls? REA's 30 have random I.D.numbers between 215 and 296 and are marked as part of a limited collection of303. Lifson doesn't know where the rest are or how Rose thought they'd help hiscase for reinstatement. Maybe he was concerned only about how they would helphis bottom line.
Scooter's Clearance Sale
WHEN IT'S TIME to relocate, most people have a garagesale to unload things they don't want to pack. When you're the oldest livingHall of Famer, downsizing is a more formal operation. Earlier this yearex--Yankees shortstop and broadcaster Phil Rizzuto, 89, anticipating a movefrom New Jersey to his daughter's home in upstate New York, decided to sell thememorabilia he collected since breaking into the bigs in 1941. The trove--morethan 200 items--was auctioned last week by Geppi's Memorabilia Road Show, anonline dealer. Among the treasures: Rizzuto's 1950 AL MVP award, which went for$175,000; three World Series rings (a total of $84,825); a game-worn Yankeescap with a 56-year-old wad of gum still stuck to the crown ($8,190); and aplatinum record honoring Meatloaf's Paradise by the Dashboard Light, for whichRizzuto did a mock play-by-play call ($7,000). Rizzuto, who is in frail healthand is in a rehabilitation home in West Orange, N.J., donated a portion of theproceeds to St. Joseph's School for the Blind in Jersey City.
DEAN FARAGI (BALL)
Rose has the sorries.
COURTESY GEPPI'S MEMORABILIA ROAD SHOW (CAP AND RING)
RAY STUBBLEBINE/REUTERS (RIZZUTO)