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Tragic story of a man who had everything fame money a beautiful wife and the love of millions upon millions of baseball fans. Only to throw it all away due to his addiction to gambling and his inability to face and confront his demons. Like he was able to face and connect on a hard slider or sharp curve ball in the batters box.
After breaking Ty Cobbs' record of 4,191 lifetime hits on September 11, 1985 Pete Rose, Tom Sizemore, was guaranteed a special place in Baseballs Hall of Fame with the likes of Ty Cobb Babe Ruth Walter Johnson and Joe DiMaggio. Rose went on to blow his chance in just three short years after his retirement in 1986. A sick and compulsive gambler Rose went beyond the usual betting on horses basketball and football game but betting on Baseball. Worst of all,in the spring and summer of 1987, the Cincinnati Reds while he was the teams manager.
The movie "Hustle" picks up on Pete Rose becoming the Red's manager after a 23 years career as a major League Baseball player. During that time he set some dozen records, including a record 4,256 lifetime hits, that may never be broken. Surrounded by gofers and wannabe friends Pete the Great, also known as Charlie Hustle, has no trouble getting them to do his bidding. Which was mostly placing his bets with mob-controlled bookies which soon ran into hundreds of thousands of dollars. One of these flunkies was the shy and insecure Paulie Janszen, Dash Mihok. Janszan was so thrilled that the great man would even look at him, much less consider him a friend, that he's easily manipulated into calling in Roses bets, always as markers, on horses and sporting events. Janszan used mob bookie Ron DeLapane, Alex Karzis, to book the bets with him being purposely left out in the cold by his good friend Pete. The Baseball super star turned out to be both unconcerned and lazy to come through with the cash if he lost on his bets.
We See in the movie, like in real life, Rose degenerate into a lying and helpless gambler as he also starts to cheat on his wife Carol, Melissa DiMarco,while on long road trips with the Reds. Rose like most sick gamblers seems to have no feelings for those who stick their necks out for him leaving Paulie in debt to the mob bookies for some $30,000.00 that he placed for the, what looked like, future Baseball Hall of Famer. Paulie pleading with his hero to get him out of the fix that he got him into has the indifferent Rose anything but concerned for his and his families health and safety. Rose finally gives him, just to get Paulie out of his hair, a check that's actually a loan of $10,000.00. While at the same time neglecting to give Paulie the $30,000.00 that he owes him for the bets he secretly booked for him. This last and condescending action to placate Paulie ,who up until then just about had it with Rose, for all the trouble that he got him into with his obsessive gambling was definitely the straw that broke the camels back. With that Paulie went straight to the FBI who already were about to indite him, on both drug trafficking and illegal book making.
Looking more like Moe Howard of the Three Stooges, for the first half of the movie until he got himself a new haircut, then Pete Rose Tom Sizemore does a component job as the former Red All Star infielder being both personable as well as sleazy at the same time. Dash Mihok is both likable and at the same time psychotic as Rose's best buddy Pauie Janszen who comes to his senses only when he's confronted with getting his brains beat in by the mob and his a**. Paulie also comes to his senses with the fear of being thrown into a federal penitentiary for some 10 to 15 years by the FBI.All that for him being so taken up by Rose in not only breaking the law for the Baseball legend but brainlessly taking the consequences for his crimes as well.
It was after Paulie passed an FBI lie-detector test that he went to Sports Illustrated magazine with the story about Pete Roses sick and despicable gambling habits. Paulie also had a lot to say how Rose treated him as a pasty to be thrown to the wolves, or the mob and FBI, when he couldn't make up his losses to the bookies. This alerted the Baseball commissioner Bartlett Glamatti ,Geore DiCenzo, into after having a heart to heart talk with Rose and then had special investigator John Dowd, Rick Reed, make a complete report of Paulie's allegations.
The truth sadly came out in the Dowd Report that Rose was indeed betting on Baseball games with the records of hundreds of telephone calls from the Reds managers offices unlisted phone, that only Pete Rose had access to. The phone calls were made to both Paulie and his main bookie DeLapane to who Rose bet an astounding 52 Cincinnati Red games. Pete Rose was banned from Baseball by Commissioner Giamatti on August 24, 1989, ironically just a week before Giamatti died from a massive heart-attack at the age of 51.
With that Rose's chances to ever be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame went down the drain together with the love and respect of millions of Baseball fans, that he earned over the years. Including Paulie Janszan who risked both his life and freedom in putting in Roses illegal bets and ending up being the person who both exposed and brought him down to reality and disgrace.
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