Originally Posted by Chip R
Yes, but Pete had the inside knowledge that bookies crave. For example, he might have decided to sit Barry Larkin for a game. He'd tell the bookies, "Look, I'm sitting Larkin today so make your bets accordingly." Now, of course, that's no guarantee that the Reds would have lost that game but I think you have to agree that they had a better chance of winning if Larkin was playing than if he were not.
Also, if Pete owed bookies money, it's possible they may have asked him to do his darndest to throw a game in exchange for wiping or reducing his debt. I'm not saying this actually happened but it's an example of what could have happened.
I don't know how bets are relayed to bookies now what with the internet and all, but back in the pre-digital days, the activity was largely handled through middlemen. Carry-out restaurants were the ideal locations because they had multiple phone lines coming in, making the phone traffic harder to identify. A bettor mostly communicated with the middlemen, who would relay the numbers on to the bookies. This created a pretty safe system, whereby the one step removal made it harder to track the activity directly to a bookie, or vice versa. If Pete talked directly to bookies, it would most likely have been about large bets or to work out payment terms.
I'm not saying the kind of information sharing you suggest is not possible, but I think it would have been very risky for bookies to talk that much to Pete. It might be more plausible in football, where they play once a week, but with a game per day, that would have been a lot of back and forth between Pete and a bookie. For the most part, the way baseball betting worked back then is that a person would call a middleman, give his name (or handle), rattle off the picks and hang up. I don't know any details about his betting, but Pete should have placed most of his bets through a double blind; one of his sycophantic friends would have been perfectly willing to make the calls. But apparently, he was sloppy or his addiction pushed him to actually fill out betting sheets in his own hand (a cardinal sin), which iirc was the way MLB nailed him. That he got caught says a lot about his personality; there are people who've been in the sports book business in Cincinnati for generations and they had a pretty safe way of keeping everyone out of trouble back then. Maybe it was just Pete being Pete.