Pete Rose, MLB’s all-time career hit leader, has no chance of being voted into the Hall of Fame in his final year of eligibility because commissioner Bud Selig, taking a seriously passive-aggressive route, will not rule on Rose’s application for reinstatement before the 2006 candidates are announced Nov. 29, according to Bob DuPuy, baseball’s chief operating officer. “The matter remains on the commissioner’s desk. He has given no indication that he’s prepared to issue a formal decision,” DuPuy said.
Last year Rose finally admitted he was a big-time gambler who started betting regularly on baseball in 1987 but never against his own team the Reds, according to his book Pete Rose: My Prison Without Bars. “Yes, sir, I did bet on baseball,” Rose told commissioner Bud Selig during a meeting in November 2002 about Rose’s lifetime ban.
“How often?” Selig asked.
“Four or five times a week,” Rose replied. “But I never bet against my own team, and I never made any bets from the clubhouse.”
“Why?” Selig asked.
“I didn’t think I’d get caught.”
But, in typical Rose fashion, he also alibied and deflected. Rose wrote that if he “had been an alcoholic or a drug addict, baseball would have suspended me for six weeks and paid for my rehabilitation.”
“I should have had the opportunity to get help, but baseball had no fancy rehab for gamblers like they do for drug addicts,” Rose wrote. “If I had admitted my guilt, it would have been the same as putting my head on the chopping block – lifetime ban. Death penalty. I spent my entire life on the baseball fields of America, and I was not going to give up my profession without first seeing some hard evidence. … Right or wrong, the punishment didn’t fit the crime – so I denied the crime.”
My solution to the impasse is to separate out Rose’s playing career from his disgraced managerial career and grant him eligibility as a player, as which, of course, he deserves enshrinement even though I can’t stand him. It’s hard to argue with 4,256 hits, 2,200 runs, 17 All-Star appearances, and the 1973 NL MVP award.
At his Cooperstown enshrinement ceremony, he could be lauded with great fanfare and chorus upon chorus of huzzahs as a player. Then, in a kind of Chinatown sister/daughter, yin/yang, Janus-type duality, he could don his manager’s uniform and the living members of the Hall of Fame could line up and take turns kicking him in the balls for undermining the fundamental integrity and fabric of The Game.
Player – “Yayyyy!!”
Manager – (kick) “Uuhh!”
Rose agreed to a lifetime ban in August 1989 following an investigation into his gambling – the Hall’s board of directors ruled in 2001 that anyone on the permanently ineligible list couldn’t appear on the BBWAA ballot.
“Charlie Hustle” applied for reinstatement in September 1997 and met with Selig in November 2002, but the admissions in his book and the aggrieved tone he took in making them seemed to sour what sympathy he had been previously able to muster.
Players are eligible for the BBWAA vote from between five and twenty years after they retire – Rose last lumbered around the bases in 1986.