Ex-prisoner will have show on Indians’ TV network

By Tom Withers The Associated Press

WINTER HAVEN, Fla. – The Cleveland Indians are taking a gamble on a sportscaster fresh out of prison for betting on sports.

SportsTime Ohio, a 24-hour TV network owned by the club, announced yesterday that it has hired longtime local radio personality Bruce Drennan to host a weekday talk show. Drennan was released from a federal prison in Morgantown, W.Va., on March 2 after serving a five-month sentence on tax fraud.

In July 2006, Drennan was sentenced after pleading guilty for failing to pay between $12,500 and $30,000 in taxes on gambling winnings. From 2000 to 2004, Drennan placed bets on baseball games with five or six bookmakers daily with some bets up to $5,400, according to the plea agreement he signed.

SportsTime Ohio’s show will be called “All Bets Are Off with Bruce Drennan” and will make its debut April 1. Drennan will serve an additional five months of house confinement with work privileges.

Drennan’s affiliation with the Indians could be viewed in conflict with baseball’s strict rules about gambling.

Bob DiBiasio, the Indians’ vice president of public relations, said Drennan will not have access to the team’s clubhouse. However, Drennan will be allowed in the press box and on the field at Jacobs Field.

“We informed major league baseball of the situation and told them of our plan,” DiBiasio said. “They felt what we were doing fell in line as appropriate action.”

Drennan, whose booming voice and strong-minded opinions on virtually any subject made him a media icon in Cleveland, said he isn’t worried about his recent past damaging his credibility or his relationship with fans.

“Not at all,” he said in a phone interview. “Either you love me or you don’t. I know my stuff. I’ve spent the past five months cramming and researching sports. The fans will be with me and that will be evident as soon as I go on the air.”

Drennan said it was because of his success with betting that led to his arrest.

“Unlike 95 percent of the guys who bet and lose, I won,” he said, “and that’s what attracted the feds.”

In 2004, federal agents seized a revolver, more than $1,000 in cash, a computer and other items in a search of Drennan’s home, according to warrants released in U.S. District Court.