Auction selling Pete Rose, MLB pact

Updated: September 14, 2012, 5:38 PM ET
By Darren Rovell | ESPN.com

WEST BERLIN, N.J. -- Pete Rose has signed hundreds of thousands of autographs in his life. But there's no doubt this is the most significant one.

It's his full name "Peter Edward Rose" signed on Aug. 23, 1989, on the last page of a five-page document, along with the signatures of then commissioner A. Bart Giamatti and deputy commissioner Fay Vincent, detailing his banishment from baseball.

Twenty-three years later, it's hitting the auction block.

"I feel this is the most important document in baseball history," said Ken Goldin of Goldin Auctions, which will auction the document beginning Oct. 10.

Vincent Nothing surprises me anymore. But there is a certain sense of the absurd in turning an agreement about the abuse of our great game into cash for the miscreant.

-- Former MLB commissioner Fay Vincent

A reserve price has not been set for the auction, but Goldin says he thinks it's worth more than the highest price paid for a baseball document -- the $996,000 paid in 2005 for the 1919 contract that sent Babe Ruth from the Boston Red Sox to the New York Yankees.

News of the auction did not surprise Vincent, who took over as commissioner after the death of Giamatti.

"Nothing surprises me anymore," Vincent told Willie Weinbaum of ESPN's "Outside the Lines" via email. "But there is a certain sense of the absurd in turning an agreement about the abuse of our great game into cash for the miscreant."

Despite the 225-page report produced for Major League Baseball by investigator John Dowd three months prior that concluded Rose indeed bet on baseball, the signed Rose agreement does not acknowledge that fact.

The agreement also details that the all-time hits leader will be put on the "ineligible list," although it allows him to apply for reinstatement.

When Goldin met with him in July, Rose said he signed two copies and his copy was in the hands of another person. Rose connected Goldin with that person, who consigned it to his auction under the condition of confidentiality.

Rose provided Goldin with a letter of authenticity for the auction. A call and a message left for Rose was not immediately returned.

Goldin, who famously sold 50,000 Rose-signed baseballs on a television show in the 48 hours after "Charlie Hustle" accepted his fate that summer, doesn't think Rose thought signing the agreement would mean a permanent ban from Cooperstown.

"I am sure he signed this document with a wink-wink, nod-nod, we'll sweep this under the rug kind of thing," Goldin said.

The next day, Giamatti announced that Rose had "engaged in a variety of acts which have stained the game, and he must now live with the consequences."

Giamatti died eight days later. Rose applied for reinstatement in both 1992 and 1997, but has not been granted his wish. In his 2004 autobiography, "My Prison Without Bars," Rose admitted for the first time to betting on baseball while he was managing the Reds but said he never bet against the team.

Over the years, Rose has seemingly signed everything, from "I'm Sorry I Bet On Baseball" baseballs to copies of this document, which he started selling for $500 in November of last year. Today, Rose signs on a weekly basis at Mandalay Place in Las Vegas.

Goldin, who says he has sold more than $600 million worth of sports memorabilia in his career, is optimistic that the item will bring in big money despite the weak economy.

"In the past couple months, we've seen the record price paid for a Babe Ruth trading card ($575,000), a record price paid for a Babe Ruth jersey ($4.4 million) and a record price paid for a Babe Ruth single-signed baseball ($388,375)," Goldin said.

Other items in the auction include a 1951 set of used and autographed sparring gloves from Rocky Marciano, a 1934 Yankees team signed baseball, a Ty Cobb game-used bat and a Michael Jordan American Express card.

Darren Rovell | email

ESPN.com Sports Business reporter