Rose By Any Other Name...
24 consecutive years, he played 3,562 major league games,
hit 3,315 singles, had 4,256 career hits in 14,053 career
games - all major league baseball records - yet, he's
a modern-day pariah. Why isn't this man in the Baseball
Hall of Fame?
the last 13 years, that question has been posed thousands
of times, and the answers have varied. Sportswriters,
in the cynical way that only sportswriters possess,
have condemned Pete Rose as a has-been, a story only
to be commented on when it's a slow news day.
elite, also known as Commisar (er, Commissioner) of Major
League Baseball, Bud Selig, basically said Rose will be enshrined
in Cooperstown when Hell opens a ski lodge. But fans across
the country have protested, voted in polls, started petitions,
organized websites, you name it - to see one of America's
sports legends finally given the recognition he deserves.
1999, during the World Series, the Baseball's All-Century
team was introduced. Among the players who either walked,
or were wheeled on the field, strode Charlie Hustle himself.
He was greeted by a thundering fan ovation which lasted longer
than any other player's. It was a moment in time not to be
forgotten. Rose also appeared during the 2002 World Series
for the game's most memorable moments. His breaking of Ty
Cobb's all-time career hits record in 1985 was ranked number
six, voted on by fans of the game.
his playing days, Rose came under investigation in February
1989 while manager of the Reds. A report was submitted to
Commissioner A. Bartlett Giamatti that detailed 412 baseball
wagers between April 8 and July 5, 1987, including 52 on Cincinnati.
The report cited evidence that included betting slips alleged
to be in Rose's handwriting, with telephone and bank records.
A legal challenge ensued, and an agreement between baseball
and Rose was reached: a lifetime ban for conduct detrimental
to baseball. While the agreement contained no formal finding
of guilt, Giamatti was quoted as saying ''in the absence of
a hearing and in absence of evidence to the contrary ... yes,
I have concluded that he bet on baseball.''
not widely known is that in this agreement, there is a provision
which allows the lifetime ban to be lifted. Just days after
Rose's expulsion, Giamatti passed away, making deputy Commissioner
Fay Vincent the head of Major League Baseball. Vincent never
reviewed the provision, leaving Rose to twist in the wind.
the last two years, quiet negotiations have been taking place
to reinstate Rose to baseball. Former Hall of Fame players
have interceded on Rose's behalf with Selig. Two weeks ago,
Rose and Selig met. Rose's comments on the meeting were short
and to the point: "There are a lot bigger people I'm
obligated to answer to first, so my official comment is 'no
comment.' " Bob DuPuy, Selig's top aide, released a brief
statement saying, "[T]here have been a number of stories
reporting alleged conversations or meetings between Commissioner
Selig and Pete Rose. Pete Rose applied for reinstatement to
Commissioner Selig several years ago and that application
has been pending since that time. Given the pendency of the
application for reinstatement, neither the commissioner or
anyone in our office will comment on the Pete Rose matter
Vincent was a little more forthcoming, and his comments may
shed light on just what it will take to get Rose recognized
- but at what price? Vincent said,
"My opinion is completely predicated on if he admits
wrongdoing." Okay Pete, just say you did it, even though
we didn't really prove it because of the total lack of evidence,
whether you did or didn't. Just say you did, and we'll get
back to you. Don't call us, we'll call you.
or not Pete Rose bet on baseball is becoming irrelevant. Only
Rose truly knows what he did, and to this day, maintains his
innocence. Major League Baseball says he did. The circumstantial
evidence, unsupported by facts, alleges he did. What about
the handwriting experts who say it's not Pete's writing on
these documents? What about the perjured testimony from Rose's
Selig - he of the All Star Tie Game - has shown little, if
any true respect for the game. Rose stated in a recent interview
that baseball considered him "dead" unless they
needed him for a specific reason. "In 1999, when I made
the All-Century team, they needed me," Rose said. "They
won't call on me until they need me. They're hypocrites."
they are Pete. And how's that program for testing players
for steroid use going, Mr. Commissioner? Conduct detrimental
to baseball, indeed.