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It's a sure bet baseballs will attract buyers

September 20, 2006|Mike Penner | Times Staff Writer

First the book, now baseballs. For Pete Rose, the written apologies for betting on baseball just keep coming.

Two years after the publication of "My Prison Without Bars," in which Rose admitted he'd wagered on baseball while managing the Cincinnati Reds, Rose is in the news again, this time because of baseballs he signed with the inscription, "I'm sorry I bet on baseball," followed by his signature.

Thirty of these balls will be put up for bid in April at a New Jersey auction house. Rose's business agent, Warren Greene, told the Associated Press that Rose had signed the baseballs for friends last year and never expected them to be put up for sale.

Rose should know better. As is the case in the sports collectibles business, some of the signed baseballs wound up in the hands of a collector who passed them on to someone else.

In this case, the collector gave 30 of these apology baseballs to Barry Halper, a limited partner in the New York Yankees. After Halper died in December, his family decided to sell his sports memorabilia and contacted Robert Edward Auctions.

"There was a box of these baseballs," auction house President Robert Lifson told AP. "When I saw them, I couldn't help thinking, 'Wow!' "

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Sorry. Sorry. Sorry. Sorry.

Auction houses could soon be clamoring for four more autographed baseballs, as soon as they can be collected and shipped from Dodger Stadium.

Baseball No. 1 reads: "Sorry about that ninth inning the other night," by Jon Adkins and Trevor Hoffman.

Baseball No. 2: "Ditto." Baseball No. 3: "Please see above." Baseball No. 4: "And now, we hand this pen over to Rudy Seanez."

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Trivia time

Lifson said he couldn't guess what price the "I'm sorry" baseballs would draw at auction. How much do Rose-autographed baseballs without the apology go for?

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All apologies

Now that Rose has broken new ground, here are other sports-memorabilia apologies we can soon expect to see:

* Football used in Oregon's 34-33 victory over Oklahoma: "Coach Stoops, please accept this football as a token of our most sincere apologies," by the instant replay officiating crew.

* Unused Angels 2006 playoff ticket: "I'm sorry I didn't get you another power hitter," by Bill Stoneman.

* Red card: "I'm sorry for going up for a header and mistaking the Italian for the ball," by Zinedine Zidane.

* Soccer ball: "I'm sorry for going up for a header and mistaking the soccer ball for a volleyball (but not really)," by Diego Maradona.

* Hockey stick: "I'm sorry for sticking a fork in the Kings' only hope of ever winning the Stanley Cup," by Marty McSorley.

* Hockey puck: "I'm sorry I dropped this during the lockout of 2004-05," by Gary Bettman.

* NFL football: "We're sorry we ever picked this thing up," by members of the Detroit Lions.

* XFL football: "I'm sorry. Just sorry," by Vince McMahon.

* Rams football helmet: "I'm sorry, L.A., for stealing away your beloved football team," by Georgia Frontiere.

* Raiders football helmet: "I'm sorry, L.A., for ... oh, forget it. You've seen us play. I did you a favor," by Al Davis.

* Basketball: "Why should I be sorry?" by Kobe Bryant.

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Trivia answer

On Rose's website, autographed baseballs sell for $86.99. Add the inscription "Hit King" and the ball will cost you $104.

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And finally

Former Colorado football coach Gary Barnett, to the Colorado Springs Gazette, after finishing second in his charity foundation's summer golf tournament: "The last time I came in second, I got fired."

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mike.penner@latimes.com

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