'I bet on baseball in 1987 and 1988'

In an exclusive interview with ABCNEWS that will air Thursday, Pete Rose admits to betting on baseball.

After denying it for nearly 15 years, baseball legend Pete Rose is admitting that he bet on baseball and on his own team while managing the Cincinnati Reds.

"I bet on baseball in 1987 and 1988," the baseball great told ABCNEWS' Charles Gibson in an interview to be aired on Primetime Thursday (10 p.m. ET).

"That was my mistake, not coming clean a lot earlier," he said.

According to reports, Rose's confession is the crux of his new autobiography, "My Prison Without Bars", which will be released Thursday. In his interview with Primetime, Rose says he bet without knowing how drastic the penalties would be.

"You don't think you're going to get caught," Rose told Gibson. Rose said he didn't think he was special or above punishment.

"I think what happens is you're, at the time, you're betting football and then, then what's after football is basketball … and obviously the next thing that follows is baseball. It's just a pattern that you got into," Rose told Gibson.

The admission could open the door for Rose to be reinstated and voted into the Baseball Hall of Fame.

Over a three-decade career in baseball, Rose earned the nickname "Charlie Hustle" for his aggressive play and appetite for winning. He carved out dozens of records, including all-time career hits that Ty Cobb had held. That milestone, reached in Cincinnati on Sept. 11, 1985, earned Rose a nine-minute ovation.

But in 1989, reports emerged that Rose, then the Reds' manager, was gambling on the game. After a six-month investigation by Major League Baseball, he agreed on Aug. 24 to leave baseball for life under the condition that he would not have to admit or deny that he bet on games. Part of the agreement allowed Rose to apply for reinstatement after one year.

Major League Baseball declined comment Monday on Pete Rose's admission that he bet on baseball while manager of the Cincinnati Reds.

In his Primetime interview, Rose said he regrets lying to baseball officials. "People have to understand I wish this would have never happened," Rose told Gibson. "But I can't change it, it's happened. And sitting here in my position, you're just looking for a second chance."

Rose hopes to be reinstated now that he has admitted his past mistakes and insists he no longer gambles illegally.

"The farthest thing from my mind right now is making a bet on anything," he told Gibson.

'Time to Take Responsibility'
Asked why he finally decided to admit he bet on baseball, Rose said, "It's time to clean the slate, it's time to take responsibility … I'm 14 years late." Rose told Gibson he took so long to make his admission because he "never had the opportunity to tell anybody [who] was going to help me."

A. Bartlett Giamatti, the commissioner at the time, died one week after banning Rose.

"I couldn't get a response from baseball for 12 years. It's like I died and, and they knew I died and they didn't want to bring me back," Rose said in the interview. "They were just going to let me rot."

Rose formally applied for reinstatement in 1997 and finally got his chance to plead his case during a November 2002 meeting with commissioner Bud Selig, in Milwaukee.

"The only guy I could confess to that would help me was the commissioner of baseball," he said. "And it took me all these years to get face to face."

Rose says that even after he admitted to Selig that he had bet on baseball, the commissioner didn't tell him that he was going to be reinstated.

There were no guarantees whatsoever, Rose said. "I can be sitting out on a limb for the next twenty years."

How Bad Does He Want It?
Rose says he believes he should be reinstated because he understands now that he made a mistake.

"We can rehash it all we want," he said. "And all you can do is tell people that, and if they're not going to believe you, they're not going to believe you."

Rose has been cheered when he's appeared in front of fans in recent years, and says he thinks he has the fans behind him. "I think the powers that be in baseball understand that hey, maybe the fans like this guy. Maybe the fans want, want us to give him a second chance."

There's little doubt Rose wants to get back into baseball, even manage his hometown team, the Reds. "I watch every game every night that I can. And it drives me crazy, like, when I put the Reds on, and there's 20,000 empty seats," he said. "I want them to be like the Cubs, or like the Yankees, or like Boston."

In addition to his interview with Primetime, Rose will appear live the next morning on Good Morning America. Primetime airs Thursday airs Jan. 8 (10:00-11:00 p.m. ET) on the ABC Television Network. Good Morning America airs live Monday through Friday (7:00-9:00 a.m. ET).