August 2, 1992. Nearly 17 1/2 years ago, it was supposed to be Pete Rose’s big day. The day Charlie Hustle, the Major League Baseball Hit King, would have been inducted in to the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, NY. A day where Rose would have overshadowed everyone else at the ceremony, because that’s who he was. But it never happened.
There’s no doubting that Pete Rose, the ball player, deserves to have his special day, have his own plaque hanging in Cooperstown. You won’t find many people who will argue with that. 1963 ROY, 1973 NL MVP, 3 batting titles, seventeen All-Star appearances (at 5 different positions), 3 World Series rings, and a pair of Gold Gloves. Oh, and there’s also those 4,256 hits.
But, what about Peter Edward Rose, the person? Has he made mistakes? Obviously. Has he taken responsibility? To an extent. Are his mistakes forgivable? Absolutely. But, is a player’s personal life what the Hall of Fame is about? Is it about the kind of man a player was, or is it about the type of player a man was? As a player, very few men deserve to be immortalized in Cooperstown more than Rose does. There are plenty of ballplayers in the Hall of Fame who weren’t stand-up guys. Ty Cobb, the man who held the hit record that Rose broke, was widely known as a racist. He’s got a plaque there anyway.
Let’s just forget about the Hall of Fame, though. Even if Rose were to be reinstated in the game, there is little chance the Veterans Committee would reach a 75% vote for Rose to be enshrined. Just in case anyone reading this isn’t familiar with the case of Pete Rose, I’ll sum up a little bit:
Rose retired as a player in 1986 as baseball’s Hit King. He was a phenomenal player who loved the game. He’s not the best hitter of all time, but he was a great hitter for longer than anyone who has ever played the game. In 1989, while managing the Cincinnati Reds, it was reported that Rose bet on baseball, which is against baseball rules. Although there was no evidence that he ever bet against his own team, Rose was voluntarily placed on baseball’s “ineligible list.” Rose denied betting on baseball for nearly 15 years. In 2004, Rose finally came out with a book, “My Prison Without Bars,” in which he admitted to betting on baseball, but denied ever betting against his own Cincinnati Reds. There have been a few times over the years where it looked like Rose might be reinstated, and if he had told the truth a long time ago, chances are he would be in the MLB by now. But he didn’t. And he’s not.
Now, the reason I went through that is to ask this question: Is it really fair to ban Pete Rose from the game he loves, just for betting on his own team to win games?
Sure, it’s against MLB rules and he knew that. He broke the rules, he has been punished. He has been tortured, being away from baseball this long. Does the punishment fit the crime? Seems a little harsh to me.
Switching topics, how do you feel about steroids and Performance Enhancing Drugs (PEDs)? What about the players who took them, and those who have admitted it or have tested positive? Is what Rose did worse than what those players did?
I find it hard to believe that many people would think what Rose did was worse than what guys like A-Rod, Giambi, Pettite, Palmeiro, and the rest of them did. One man bets on baseball games, while a whole group of men inject illegal drugs into their bodies in order to be bigger, faster, and stronger. To make themselves better. To ruin baseball’s storied record books with ridiculous, tainted numbers that were achieved through the use of PEDs.
So, is it really fair that Mark McGwire, with the help of needles and syringes, broke one of baseball’s greatest records, then denied using PEDs, was hired as a coach for his former team, then admits to using performance enhancing drugs and is still allowed in the game? We’re talking about a guy who took drugs that improved his performance, tarnished the record books, then admits to using PEDs and still gets to be a coach. All while Charlie Hustle, the Hit King, sits in a Las Vegas casino getting his picture taken at a table and signing baseballs that say “Sorry I bet on baseball, Pete Rose” because he’s not allowed to be a part of the game. The game that he loves.
Yeah, makes a whole lot of sense to me.