"My Prison" an instant best-seller

Pete Rose's second autobiography, "My Prison Without Bars," will debut at No. 1 on The New York Times bestseller list.

The editor-in-chief of the New York Times Book Review, Chip McGrath, confirmed to ESPN.com on Wednesday that Rose's book will lead the hardcover non-fiction section on Jan. 25.

The Rose book is published by Rodale Press, whose book "The South Beach Diet" is also ranked No. 1, on the Times' hardcover advice list.

Rose's book debuted in bookstores Thursday and sold more than 20,000 copies in the first four days, according to Publisher's Lunch, an online trade newsletter.

"This is gratifying, not so much because it has been a commercial success, but because of the way I've seen Pete being re-embraced by the public," said Jeremy Katz, executive editor of Men's Health and Sports Books for Rodale, which had an initial run of 500,000 Rose books.

In the book, the all-time hits leader said he gambled on baseball, but never as a player, never against the Cincinnati Reds and never in the clubhouse. Although allegations have surfaced that Rose did place bets from the clubhouse and as a player, Katz said he has no concerns that Rose wasn't completely forthcoming with his tale.

Over the past two weeks, Rose -- who reportedly received a $1 million advance -- has been criticized for cashing in on his admission. Until the book was released, Rose had publicly maintained since he was banned from baseball in August 1989 that he never bet on his sport.

"I am continuously puzzled by the criticism of the method by which he chose to come forward," Katz said. "For a life as rich and varied as Pete's, there is no better format than a book. To tell his story in a press release, at a news conference or by giving him a single interview would be selling himself short. His story is a story of living well sometimes, living poorly often, and living interestingly always."

Darren Rovell, who covers sports business for ESPN.com, can be reached at Darren.rovell@espn3.com.