By In Baseball

A Rose By Any Other Name

There are many people in and around baseball who believe that Pete Rose should never be reinstated and should never be allowed in the Hall of Fame. They have a very strong case.

1. Pete Rose as manager of the Cincinnati Reds gambled on baseball games when he knew — fully and completely understood — that the penalty for such gambling was permanent banishment from the game.

2. Rose voluntarily accepted a permanent ban from baseball.

3. Rose, for many years afterward, denied betting on baseball and denied betting on his own team even though he did both. There are many who believe he still lies when saying he never bet on his Reds to lose.

Put together, those three things certainly make a powerful argument against Rose ever being allowed back in baseball. But, like everything in life, there are caveats and subtleties and counterarguments if a person is open to them. Quickly, some of these might be:

1. Is a permanent ban from baseball for gambling on the game a fair penalty? Some say yes. But others would say no. Remember, we are not talking about conspiring with gamblers to throw games, which is at the heart of the 1919 Black Sox and at the heart of the rule. We are talking about betting on baseball. It’s bad. It reflects poorly on the game. It brings the validity of the game into question. Yes. All of it. But we don’t give lifetime sentences for too many crimes. Rose has been banned for 25 years. Isn’t that enough?

2. Rose (and his lawyers) gave up various rights and tactics and accepted the ban passively — Rose clearly believed that in return baseball would view his readmission efforts mercifully. Well, Rose actually believes he was all but promised that reinstatement would follow quickly. He thought they had a deal. Then Commissioner Bart Giamatti died, and Rose believes that baseball reneged.

3. Rose’s dishonesty after the fact is not defensible, but he admitted more than a decade ago that he bet on the game and on his own team. More than a decade ago. At what point has he been flogged enough?

Now, let me repeat: You may not buy any of those counterarguments and you may believe Rose blew his chances at redemption and permanent ban MEANS permanent ban, and you have the absolute power of the rules behind you. I think that’s what it comes down to — the power of the rules vs. the power of mercy. Does Rose deserve mercy in this particular case? I think yes. Others think no. And the beat goes on.

This week, though, former commissioner of baseball Fay Vincent — the man who replaced Bart Giamatti as commissioner until he was essentially booted by the owners — came out of his retirement in Vero Beach with a grumpy, somewhat fact-challenged anti-Rose screed. Vincent’s purpose for doing so was to counter a New York Times editorial by Kostya Kennedy, who has an upcoming book on Rose. I should say here that Kostya is a friend of mine and a fine writer but I have not read his book yet.

Vincent’s main shot is at Kostya’s sentence: “Consider, after all, the players who might have appeared on Hall of Fame ballots cast by baseball writers but did not because baseball had named them permanently ineligible. The list is printed here in its entirety: Pete Rose.”

This was too much for Fay Vincent.

“He ignores the the old Black Sox “Shoeless Joe” Jackson, who might have been a better hitter than Rose,” Vincent writes and he goes on to say, “Kennedy makes other errors but his failure to remember Jackson is damning.”

I cannot tell if Vincent is being willfully ignorant here or if he’s had a nasty case of amnesia. There is not even the slightest possibility that Kostya Kennedy “forgot” Joe Jackson. To suggest that the author of a new book on Rose “forgot” Joe Jackson would be like saying that Walter Isaccson, having just written about Steve Jobs, “forgot” about Bill Gates.

Shoeless Joe Jackson, as Vincent knows, was absolutely eligible for the Hall of Fame and actually received two votes in the very first Hall of Fame balloting and two more in 1946. Voters CHOSE not to vote for Jackson, but he and all other permanently banned players were absolutely allowed to be on the ballot until 1991, which is exactly what Kostya was saying.

What happened in 1991? Right. Pete Rose was about to become eligible for the ballot. And in what felt like an emergency session, a special committee of Baseball’s Hall of Fame got together and recommended that all permanently ineligible baseball players be ineligible for the ballot. The Hall of Fame board quickly approved the recommendation.

On the Hall of Fame board? Right. The commissioner of baseball. Fay Vincent.

Vincent was part of the process to keep ineligible players of the Hall of Fame ballot. He wasn’t just part of the process, he was the person running baseball at that very moment in time. He KNOWS this, so why would he write otherwise? I think it’s part of the piling on that never seems to stop when it comes to Rose.

Consider this amazing paragraph from Vincent:

Why would Rose be reinstated? The answer is he will not be unless some commissioner takes the risk that such reinstatement will not reduce the deterrent effect of the no-gambling rule. Suppose that deterrent is reduced and a virulent spate of gambling breaks out in baseball. One thing we know is the gambling prohibition works perfectly. Everyone in baseball is wary of gambling because the punishment is so severe. Gambling is the one capital crime of baseball, and it is well absorbed into the baseball DNA. The issues with performance enhancing drugs should not be confused with the gambling policies.

Wow. With so many arguments against Pete Rose, THIS is the one he takes? Vincent is saying that reinstating a 73-year-old Rose — after TWENTY FIVE years of banishment — would reduce the deterrent effect of the no-gambling rule? Seriously, he’s saying that? He’s saying that people would look at Rose’s life the last 25 years and think, “Hmm, thats not too bad a punishment. I think I’ll gamble.” He’s saying, “Well, a lifetime ban — no, I’m not going to gamble. But if it’s a ban where I might someday in my 70s have a chance to be forgiven, sure, get my bookie on the line.”

And the bit about the gambling prohibition working “perfectly” — I’d be pretty wary of anybody saying that ANYTHING works perfectly.

Vincent also writes that Ted Williams did not want Rose in the Hall of Fame, which seems gratuitous. It’s not hard to quote numerous other Hall of Famers, like Joe Morgan, who thinks Rose deserves to be on the ballot.

Then he quotes Tom Seaver offering what he calls the killing question: “Look Commissioner, if Rose is allowed into the Hall of Fame, does that mean a pitcher like me with over 300 wins can bet on baseball?”

I don’t follow that the killing question at all — “No, Tom, if you bet on baseball you will be be banned from the game like Rose has for the last 25 years” — but then none of it makes too much sense. Pete Rose is not going to the Hall of Fame. He could be declared eligible tomorrow, and he would have exactly no chance of getting 75% of the vote no matter who is voting. I don’t see a scenario for Rose to get elected to the Hall of Fame even after he’s gone. Maybe that’s as it should be.

For me, the killing question is this: Should Rose be forgiven by baseball at some point here? You could argue yes, he’s served his time and he was a brilliant player who brought much joy to the game. You could argue no, permanent means permanent and Rose has not earned forgiveness. Both arguments have their merits and their drawbacks.

Or you could argue that reinstating Rose would encourage others to gamble on baseball.

I wish Fay Vincent would just enjoy retirement a little bit more in Vero Beach.

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127 Responses to A Rose By Any Other Name

  1. John says:

    Rose’s plaque should read “Banned for Life for betting on baseball.”
    Just like Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens’ plaques should read “his performance was enhanced by steroids.”

  2. hack says:

    pete rose should absolutely be in the hall of fame. the story of baseball cannot be told without him. he should also be banned from ever working in baseball again in any capacity. many hall of famers are less than honorable people; we know who they are and what they did. it would be no different for rose. or for bonds and clemens for that matter. they belong in the hall of fame so that one may visit cooperstown and learn the whole story of baseball. without pete rose the story is incomplete. imo

    • Jake Bucsko says:

      I will point out here that Pete Rose is ABSOLUTELY in the Hall Of Fame, hack. He’s just not enshrined, there’s no plaque. But the Hall is much more than just plaques. There is absolutely Pete Rose memorabilia scattered around. Not a lot, but it is there, just like anyone else.

      I am okay with Rose being inducted officially. But my nagging problem is this: how do we know he never bet against the Reds? I suspect if it were somehow proven he did, most if not all of his supporters would be silenced. He SAYS he didn’t, yes. But Pete Rose is a liar. He lied about betting, lied about betting on his team, then backtracked and said ok, ok, I was lying about that. But I definitely was not lying about betting against them. Trust me, I’m a desperate compulsive gambler! Have you ever known someone with a gambling problem? They are not the most reliable folk, and will say anything to get what they want.

      I would not be surprised if Rose had bet against the Reds, but has claimed so often that he has not that he believes it as if it were true.

      • Jake Bucsko says:

        He sounds a bit like a parent trying to tell their kid that yes, we lied to you about the Easter bunny being real, but trust me, the tooth fairy is coming tonight to put money under your pillow. Trust us, why would we lie to you?

      • Chris McClinch says:

        I, for one, WOULD be surprised if it turned out that Rose had bet against the Reds while managing them. Someone that psychotically competitive doesn’t have it in him to bet on himself to lose.

        • You can’t see a scenario where Rose owed some bad people, let’s say $500K, and his only way out was to fix a game? People with higher ethics than Rose have fallen into that trap. The “he likes to win too much” argument rings hollow to me. Rose has always done precisely what’s best for Pete Rose at all times.

          • Chris McClinch says:

            Honestly, no. And no for a couple of reasons. First, there’s just not enough action on any (non-World Series) game for the bad people to inconspicuously recoup $500K on a thrown game. Second, there’s just not a whole lot a manager can do to ensure his team loses a game. This isn’t basketball or football where there’s a clock to mismanage, plays to draw up poorly, etc.

        • Rick R says:

          As a manager of the Reds, Pete Rose put a 44 year old first baseman with a .319 slugging average and no speed into the line-up in an effort to chase a record that would earn him some cash. Every day he did that, he was helping the Reds to lose. If he could earn a little extra scratch with a bet that simply acknowledged the reality of the situation, do you really think he would pass that up?

          • Richard Aronson says:

            That 44 year old first baseman had a .395 on base percentage. I’ll take a lineup of .395 OBP any time. He also stole 8 bases in 9 tries, never mind it was because catchers were doubled over laughing at the sight. However, that’s just me trying to be fair.

            But to make it simple: the rule is permanent so that every player who even thinks of gambling on baseball will see the all time hit leader, in the grave, unforgiven, and maybe reconsider. And all the arguments in favor of reinstatement by guys who were Rose’s teammates or may have written a book about the Reds or Rose don’t sway me nearly as much as what Fay Vincent says Tom Terrific said. Seaver, by the way, was also a team mate of Rose for a bit.

      • Tampa Mike says:

        C’mon man!! Everyone is obviously talking about enshrinement here. Now you want to call someone a hack on your little technicality?? No one would say they are “in” the hall of fame because they have a piece of memorabilia there.

        • MCD says:

          But hack explicitly said the reason he is arguing for Rose is because “the story of baseball cannot be told without him”. You can certainly tell any story without enshrining Rose. That is no longer a technicality, it is specifically addressing his argument.

          • hack says:

            i appreciate the replies. i believe the hall of fame should tell the story of baseball. i realize that doesn’t require a plaque, that there are items from many players who did something noteworthy. but for the all-time hits leader to not have a plaque smacks of moralizing on the part of writers and others like vincent. i don’t need them to protect me from the knowledge of what rose or bonds or clemens or joe jackson did. they all earned enshrinement with their play on the field. if we’re going to get into this whole “he doesn’t deserve it” then ty cobb and cap anson don’t “deserve” to have plaques either. the greatest players should be enshrined in the hall of fame. baseball fans are smart enough to fill in the details. imo.

        • Joshua says:

          Umm, the guy he is replying to is named Hack.

      • Marty McKee says:

        I think anyone who knows anything about Pete Rose knows he never bet against his own team.

        If one believes, as many now do, that gambling addiction is a disease and that Rose couldn’t help himself, I think that calls for a reduction of his sentence.

        I have no doubt that Rose and Giamatti cooked up a deal (similar to Michael Jordan’s with David Stern) that would allow Giamatti to suspend Rose for a certain amount of time and then be reinstated. And that Vincent reneged on it. There can be no other explanation for Rose accepting a lifetime ban.

        • Jake Bucsko says:

          You are speaking in a lot of absolutes for things that you cannot possibly KNOW to be a fact. I know people THINK that because Pete Rose was so maniacally competitive that he could NEVER, oh, no, never, bet against the Reds. But again I say, have you ever known someone with a gambling problem? A real gambling addiction? Think about that person and ask yourself what they wouldn’t bet on.

          As for gambling addiction being a disease to which Rose could not help himself, I don’t buy it. I can accept alcoholism as a disease. When you drink so much that you become addicted to alcohol, it changes the chemical makeup of your body to where you need alcohol to function. Gambling addictions are all in your head. I don’t think we need to show mercy on Rose because he had a disease. He brought it on himself, it isn’t as if Pete Rose was diagnosed with cancer and one of the side effects to the chemo therapy is compulsive gambling.

          It’s a popular conspiracy theory (thanks, Bill Simmons) that Michael Jordan only left the Bulls after the 93 season because he was suspended for gambling, but it’s just that…a conspiracy theory. Everyone knows he only came back after Ewing, Bogues, Grandmama and Barkley called him out saying he wasn’t good enough anymore after the historic defeat of the Monstars.

          As for there being “no other explanation for Rose accepting a lifetime ban” , I’m not sure what there was for him to accept. The penalty for gambling on baseball, and for even appearing to MAYBE fix a game, is a permanent ban (not lifetime ban, but permanent, as in forever. Joe has pointed this out before) . He didn’t have to accept anything, the ban hammer was coming no matter what.

        • George Purcell says:

          You’re forgetting the spread. It’s perfectly possible for Rose to bet against his own team while deluding himself that he was still going to win.

        • MCD says:

          Rose could still have compromised the integrity of the game, even if he always bet on the Reds.

          Say Dave Parker tweaked a hamstring rounding first in the 6th inning, would Pete be more likely keep him in the game knowing he had one more at-bat in a game that he had a large chunk of chain riding on the outcome? What if Mario Soto was at 120 pitches in 1-0 pitching duel?

          The reason that Rose accepted the ban is that Giamatti agreed to drop the suit and Rose did not have to admit guilt. Vincent did not “renege” on any agreement. Rose thought by not admitting guilt, he might have a chance later, which we knot did not work; which is why he eventually *did* admit guilt (giving up the only thing he got out of the agreement)

          • Hotwater says:

            Exactly. As a manager, betting on your own team to win is almost as bad as betting on them to lose, since you can take risks with your players’ health.

      • Dave says:

        The Dowd Report stated he had at least three indications that Rose had bet against his own team, but did not have two separate sources to confirm those and as he already had 70-some confirmed instances of him betting on baseball, he was told “don’t bother” with finding out if Rose bet against his own team.

    • hudsonvalleyslim says:

      Well said. I grew up watching Pete Rose in the 70s, and he WAS baseball. Rose & Morgan, c’mon! My dad told me, “Watch this guy, this is how you want to play.” He also said, “It’s not win at all cost, but sportsmanship.” And my dad was a competitive guy. Maybe this is all old school v. new. I dunno.

      Pete Rose is well represented in the Hall (I was there last year) without a plaque. (As is Joe Jackson.) I think this is cool. Whether this transcends his indiscretions, I don’t know. I’m personally happy the steroid guys are getting snowballed. (And they are already in the museum.) I suppose my opinion is: If you cheat, no plaque. But if you are a part of history you will be represented in the museum.

  3. Bruce says:

    Rules. Who needs ’em?

    Here we have Joe Poz, who I think is a tremendous baseball writer, not voting for Alan Trammell, who he believes should absolutely be in the HOF, because he’s concerned about the integrity of his ballot, but turns around and advocates for Rose, who walked past a sign posted outside of every locker room he ever entered SPECIFICALLY referencing gambling . I’m sure Joe has seen the same sign.

    Again, though, it’s just a rule.

    • wordyduke says:

      Joe would have voted for Trammell if there had been eleven votes allowed on his ballot. The reason he didn’t vote for Trammell is that there were 10 other even more qualified candidates (IHO, with which I agree) whom he did vote for. Your comparison does not compute.

  4. EnzoHernandez11 says:

    Vincent is simply proving that he is just as bad an ex-commissioner as we was a commissioner. And that he’s susceptible to making dumb arguments: if the ban on gambling truly “work(ed) PERFECTLY”, Pete Rose wouldn’t have bet on baseball. Duh!

    Having said that, I would be wary of dismissing Vincent’s point out of hand. Letting Pete Rose in the Hall of Fame, even after 25 years, would in fact represent a liberalization of baseball’s policy regarding betting on the game (even granting that the policy on the Hall of Fame only dates back to 1991). So I don’t think it’s inherently ridiculous to suggest that any loosening of the policy may change, in some subtle manner, the way athletes and managers look at betting on baseball.

    As for me, I think the risk is small, and I would prefer to see Rose in the HoF, along with Bonds and Clemens and even Palmeiro. But let’s not pretend the risk is nonexistent.

  5. Loren says:

    Maybe instead of banned players not being eligible for the HOF there should be an increased waiting period. Say 10 or 15 years before they get on the ballot instead of 5. Then only let them stay for 5 or 10 years instead of 15 and make the threshold to keep them on the ballot 15% of the vote or something. This gives them a chance but lessens the annual, presumably bitter, debates.

  6. Mike Grayson says:

    Very nice article. I agree that Pete should be on the HOF ballot. I think he will eventually be admitted to the HOF, after he dies.

    I tire of the rabid anti-Pete diatribes. I see it in terms of the other Hall of Fame players that were connected to gambling, and it was covered up and they were allowed in. See one Ty Cobb and Tris Speaker (allegations of game-fixing brought about by Dutch Leonard, a former pitcher managed by Cobb). When Leonard didn’t appear at the hearing, the allegations were just dropped.

    To me, the steroid allegations are actually worse than gambling. They directly call into question all of the stats amassed by players that used steroids. How many HRs would Bonds have hit w/o steroids? We’ll never know.

    Pete’s playing career was something to behold. Batting titles, lifetime hits record, NL consecutive games hit record, 3 world series rings, and a unique reputation for ‘hustle’. The HOF is simply the poorer for not having Rose admitted.

    • Chris McClinch says:

      It’s true that we’ll never know how many homers Bonds would have hit without steroids. It’s also true that we’ll never know how many Aaron would have hit without amphetamines or how many Ruth would have hit if the best African American pitchers had been allowed to play in the American League. Why are steroids the bright, shining line here?

      • Andrew says:

        Why are steroids the bright, shining line? I think it has to do with the brazenness of it all. Steroids are all about strength, and Bonds and Clemens (and countless others) made millions of dollars because of their strength. There’s a kind of direct link that is often elusive and is hard to ignore. Other players (even Aaron) may have been on drugs but not the kind of pure performance-enhancers that Bonds/McGwire/Clemens were on, for example.

        Gambling is a bright, shining line for the same reason. Vincent may be full of sh*t, but he’s right that it is the one cardinal rule of baseball; the one capital crime. To bet on your own games is a brazen act of malfeasance that deserves punishment.

        Joe Pos and Bob Costas (on Dan Patrick this morning) both seem to think it is crazy that inducting Rose/Bonds/Clemens now would have any influence on current players’ behavior. It is not crazy. If they are inducted, that will reinforce the mindset that got these players to misbehave in the first place: that it is all about numbers, all about winning, sportsmanship and integrity be damned.

        Induction into the Hall of Fame is a honor, a privilege, not a right, no matter how impressive your stats are. Rose surely knew that when he bet on games. Bonds and Clemens should have thought of that before they made the decision to cheat. (Bonds, in particular, also should have been thinking about that every time he made an enemy out of a sportswriter.)

        • Chris McClinch says:

          Steroid use is more brazen than the bowls full of greenies that used to be there in Major League clubhouses? And yes, steroids are about strength, but amphetamines are all about alertness and reaction time. In a sport that’s all about timing, are you really sure that increased strength is a greater performance enhancer than decreased reaction time? I’m not–and you’ll notice that the offensive numbers in baseball dipped not when the sport began testing for steroids, but a couple of years later when they began testing for amphetamines. Therapeutic use exemptions for amphetamines have also gone from non-existent in baseball to over double the rate for the general population. But you’re right. Steroids should be the bright, shining line.

          And the sport has already sent the message that enshrinement is all about winning, sportsmanship and integrity be damned. What do you think inducting Mantle, Gaylord Perry, Whitey Ford, Ty Cobb, and Cap Anson says about the respective merits of character, cheating, and on-field performance?

          • Give it a rest. We we read your countless rambling posts saying exactly the same thing too many times. One good thing, once I see your name I no longer need to actually read what you’ve written.

      • Anon21 says:

        Worth noting: there’s no evidence that I’m aware of that Aaron used amphetamines on more than one occasion. So I think your point with regard to him specifically is a poor one.

  7. Brett says:

    IMHO, being banned from actively participating in baseball and being in the Hall of Fame are two different things. I have no problem with Rose not being allowed to manage, be a GM, or a hitting coach, etc. However, he belongs in the Hall of Fame. They can put an asterisk on his plaque as someone else suggested indicating he has been banned for life. But, his 4,256 hits says he belongs. If they want to prevent him from giving an induction speech, that’s OK too. He still shoud be in.

    • wordyduke says:

      Is there any evidence, from anywhere, that Rose bet on baseball as a player, while he was getting those 4,256 hits? Or did the gambling start after he no longer had the daily action of getting to 4,256? If so, maybe admission as a player and a plaque which talked about gambling wouldn’t be the worst resolution. Or, if that’s too much, eligibility for consideration by the BBWAA or the veterans’ committee (Joe thinks they would both turn him down, but that giving him that consideration would be more just than the current situation).

    • chuck says:

      Agree. If the ban against Rose being voted on for the Hall was lifted, I’d have no problem with it. But I don’t want anyone with a history of gambling on baseball, or a history of gambling addiction, to have any part in the game going forward. Beyond who the person bets on to win, I think if someone gets themselves deep enough in debt to the wrong people, they leave themselves and the game open to being manipulated.

  8. cthom7 says:

    I’m agnostic on whether Pete Rose is enshrined in the Baseball Hall of Fame. I think the rule he broke needs to be defended tenaciously and strictly to protect the integrity of the game, but if they want to put up a plaque in Cooperstown to celebrate his accomplishments as a player, fine, whatever.

    But there’s something a bit discomfiting about the way you gloss over Rose’s foibles in all of these write-ups pleading for his admission to the Hall of Fame–maybe its just all of this advocacy and passion in support of a man who has conducted himself so despicably since these accusations were first brought to light. Rose has been kind of like that ex-con who keeps sabotaging his rehabilitation back into polite society with lies and poor decisions. Lou Whitaker got screwed. Bobby Grich got screwed. Alan Trammell is getting screwed. Pete Rose screwed himself, over and over and over again. So forgive me if I don’t feel the passion of your cause.

    I would agree with you, however, that Fay Vincent is certainly not the greatest vessel for his side of the argument.

  9. Chris McClinch says:

    Rose and Shoeless Joe should both be in the Hall of Fame, with writeups on their plaques that talk about both their brilliant play and the reason they received permanent bans from the sport. For that matter, Clemens and Bonds should have gone in last year, with writeups on their plaques that talked about both their brilliant play and their roles as the public faces of the Steroid Era. A Hall of Fame without the Hit King, Shoeless Joe, arguably the greatest pitcher of all time, and arguably the greatest hitter of all time is incomplete.

    • KHAZAD says:

      This is a ridiculous argument. The plaque is not the place for those things. The history of those times are for other parts of the museum. You are saying they can get in as long as it is part of a continued punishment. Silly.

  10. Tim says:

    As Joe alludes to, the HOF is an institution that is independent of MLB (even if there’s a lot of crossover, like the commissioner being on the board). Baseball can absolutely keep its lifetime ban on Rose and should. It’s legitimate that for the crime of betting, he should never be allowed to manage another team or serve as a coach or in any other official capacity in the baseball world. But the hall is a separate institution. Being “enshrined” (and I hate that word) in the hall doesn’t mean that your decisions or actions have any effect on any baseball games being played anywhere. I don’t see it as being mutually exclusive to be banned from baseball for life yet still be in the HOF.

    Just like Joe said they should do when it comes to steroids, the HOF should lead in this situation. They’re cowardly hiding behind MLB’s lifetime ban and saying “hey, don’t blame us, it’s up to the commissioner.” They have the power to put him in if they get rid of that silly rule. Of course, the writers might choose not to vote him in, as they did with Joe Jackson, but that’s another story.

    • Tim says:

      As Joe describes it, the rule prohibits players who are banned from appearing on the ballot. That makes me wonder what would happen if say, Ryne Sandberg, got caught gambling on Phillies games. He’d of course be banned from baseball immediately, but I don’t think there’s any precedent for someone getting removed from the hall. And the rules just say he can’t be on the ballot.

      Wouldn’t it be great theater if some HOF-er who doesn’t give a damn strolled into a Las Vegas casino with some reporters and put a $5 bet down on a baseball game to draw attention to Rose’s case? It would definitely trump Deadspin buying a ballot.

      • Chris McClinch says:

        I’ve wondered something similar about a HOFer who doesn’t give a damn announcing that he used steroids during his career. There are certainly some names in the Hall who wouldn’t surprise me in the slightest–a couple, in fact, whose careers make more sense if you presume steroid use. If one of those guys announces past steroid use (and a couple of the ones I strongly suspect got VERY high vote percentages on their one and only ballots), I’m very curious about how the tenor of the discussion changes.

      • mwarneridx says:

        It might be great theater, but it’s not really relevant, since the ban on gambling only extends to active baseball personnel.

  11. dglnj says:

    Brett and Tim nailed it above. A permanent ban from baseball only bars someone from admission to the Baseball HOF because the board of the HOF decided to make it so in 1991. Putting Rose in the HOF doesn’t require MLB to rescind its lifetime ban; it merely requires the HOF to rescind the rule they put in place at that time.

  12. Mean Dean says:

    Why would we skip straight to reinstating Rose? Just because a certain amount of time has passed on a lifetime suspension? That doesn’t make sense. That’s like giving someone life in jail and then just letting him out after 25 years because “25 years is a long time”, without even having a parole hearing to determine if the guy deserves it.

    If Rose has done something that deserves reinstatement, then we can reinstate him. So, let’s have a hearing. At this hearing, Rose can present the positive things he’s done to demonstrate that he’s turned his life around and thus the suspension should be lifted. You know, the time he spent in Gamblers Anonymous, the work he’s done to discourage young people from gambling… all that stuff. Then the Commissioner can determine, based on this evidence, whether the suspension should continue.

    • Mike Grayson says:

      Of course in reality, murderers who get life sentences are routinely discharged or released after 25 years…

  13. bl says:

    Joe, personally I have no sympathy for Rose: he knew the rule, he willfully broke it, and he accepted the punishment. But you always make a good case for Rose and for forgiveness, I almost think the lack of sympathy is a flaw of my own. I don’t think the ban should be lifted, but I also think the Hall has the right change their rule and allow banned players in. That wouldn’t necessarily bother me. As has been pointed out, his memorabilia is already there.

    I guess in the end I just wish Fay Vincent and Pete Rose would both stop talking.

  14. Andrew says:

    The funny thing is, I think Pete Rose is way more famous because of all this than he would be if he had never gambled. He would obviously still be famous (being the hit king and all that) but even so, this has ensured that he’ll forever remain a hot topic in baseball, like Shoeless Joe.

    For what it’s worth, I’d feel uneasy about putting him in the Hall.

    • Andrew says:

      This is a bit silly. The objective of baseball is to get hits. Rose did it more often than anyone else in history. He would surely be just as famous even without the gambling controversy.

      • Ian R. says:

        Uh, what?

        Last I checked, the objective of baseball is to win games. Games are won by scoring more runs than the other team. Hits are an important part of scoring runs, yes, but they aren’t the be-all, end-all of baseball, or even of the offensive side of baseball.

        • Jake Bucsko says:

          The objective of a hitter is to not make outs. Ted Williams has the highest OBP of all time (.482). Rose is 212th at .375, just above Ryan Braun, just below Travis Hafner. Just above Jorge Posada, just below Jim Edmonds.

          • Ian R. says:

            Good point. I’d add that a hitter’s other objective – not as important as avoiding outs, but still important – is to hit for power and drive in runs. There, Babe Ruth is the all-time leader with a .690 slugging percentage. (Williams, incidentally, is second.)

            Rose checks in at #852 all-time.

      • Ian R. says:

        Also, Rose didn’t get hits more OFTEN than anyone – that honor belongs to Ty Cobb, baseball’s all-time batting champion. Rose has more TOTAL hits thanks to longevity.

      • Andrew W. says:

        I’ll start going by Andrew W. to distinguish. You’ll notice that I didn’t say Rose wouldn’t be famous; I specifically said otherwise. What I said is that this has probably made him more famous, and given him more of an enduring place in the history of baseball. I’m not sure about this, but if I had to guess I would say that casual baseball fans are more familiar with Pete Rose than, say, Rickey Henderson. One’s the hit king, and the other is the run king and stolen base king (and unintentional walk king). I think Rickey was definitely a better player, but he wasn’t the one voted to the All Century Team.

        It’s kind of the same way I feel Armando Galarraga’s “non-perfect” game will be more well known over the years than Dallas Braden’s perfect game.

  15. Matthew Clark says:

    Joe, if Rose deserved reinstatement his case would be a matter of justice. He received justice. Mercy is what you hope to get precisely when you don’t deserve it. Like when I took my Dad’s car out and got in an accident: I paid for the damages (justice), but my Dad gave me another chance to take the car out (mercy.)
    I suppose we all “deserve” justice but pray for mercy.

  16. Tim says:

    Poz didn’t vote for Trammell because he could only vote for 10 players, and he didn’t think that Trammell was one of the 10 best on the ballot (otherwise he certainly would have based on what he wrote). You can disagree with his reasoning on that, but you can hardly accuse him of inconsistency.

  17. cass says:

    “But we don’t give lifetime sentences for too many crimes. Rose has been banned for 25 years. Isn’t that enough?”

    MLB is not incarcerating Pete Rose. He may go about his life exactly how he wishes. He does not need endure the abuse, humiliation, and lack of freedom that those in prison must. He has complete freedom. He could manage a baseball team, even, if he can find a league that will accept him.

    But MLB as an organization decided to make a permanent ban against anyone who bet on baseball. They have not made an exception for Pete Rose.

    If a school system decides to permanently ban a teacher who abused his students, would you also advocate that he should be allowed back after 25 years?

    MLB should not have an anti-trust exemption. That is the only problem here. It is quite fair and respectable for them to implement a lifetime ban against someone who bet on baseball.

    (I am not addressing the HoF situation. Just Joe’s specific assertion that a permanent ban is unjust. And, for what it’s worth, I think the American justice system is far too harsh, much more so than other developed countries. I think there absolutely needs to be more mercy there. None of this applies to Pete Rose: he is a free man.

    • John Gale says:

      The problem is that a permanent ban from *baseball* is different than a permanent ban from the *Hall of Fame.* The former is related to whether Rose can manage or take another position in a baseball front office. I don’t know anyone who thinks he should be allowed to do that. The latter is related to whether a great player should be allowed to take his place amongs the other greats. It’s not mutually inclusive. He can be banned from one without banning him from the other. The same applies to Shoeless Joe Jackson.

  18. Ignatius J. Rreilly says:

    Joe, your points 2 and 3 are well taken, but as to point one, we do not know if Rose was or was not conspiring with gamblers to throw games. Suppose Rose had fallen behind in paying his debts, how easy would it be to “pay off” that debt by him betting against the Reds, thus signalling to his “creditors” put your money with me for an easy bet to be credited to my account? There are of course many other ways to accomplish the same ends.

  19. “Is a permanent ban too harsh?” – No. It’s been the penalty for gambling on baseball for almost 100 years.

    “Rose thought he had a reinstatement deal” – Well, it’s Rose’s word against a dead man & Rose’s “word” is not exactly stellar.

    “Has Rose been flogged enough since he admitted betting on baseball 10 years ago?” He doesn’t need to be flogged. Just not reinstated. He only admitted it 10 years ago because he had a book to sell, because hardly anyone believed him anyway and he felt it gave him a shot at reinstatement.

    If anything, Joe Jackson is much more sympathetic given then there is evidence that he didn’t actually do anything to throw the series. He was obvioiusly not the sharpest tool in the shed. Anyway, there is no serious groundswell to get Joe Jackson reinstated. So, why Rose? He’s the one of the most unsympathetic players in the history of the game.

    In the end, nobody is denying Rose the right to anything. Nobody is suggesting he should be prevented from earning a living or be thrown in jail, or anything like that. He can peddle his autographs and memorabilia & prostitute himself at racetracks, memorabilia shops or wherever he likes. In fact, his “outlaw” reputation and the numerous people who support Rose, probably buy more Rose stuff than they would if he was elected to the HOF.

    Certainly his permanent ineligibility and his HOF ballot ban are not overkill. It’s a pretty small price actually for what Rose did and all the lies he told subsequently.

    I will say that for Faye Vincent, this is personal. So, his arguments are also personal. He believes that Rose’s behavior contributed to the stress that caused Giamatti to have a heart attack and die. So, I don’t necessarily go along with all of Vincent’s comments. But the fact that some of them are off base change nothing about Rose’s case (or lack thereof) for reinstatement.

  20. Yeager says:

    Framing the argument as “the power of the rules vs. the power of mercy” is not even a little bit fair.

    • True. The idea of forgiveness has never meant that there shouldn’t be punishment for the misdeed. Forgiveness means holding no ill will and moving on with your life. It doesn’t in any way imply that the offender should be let off the hook.

      • wordyduke says:

        Forgiveness can mean what you want it to mean. There has clearly been punishment and there can be more, by keeping Rose out of baseball-related employment. (Only a publicity-hound owner would hire 72-year-old Pete Rose anyway.) But forgiveness could involve looking at the original sentence, deciding that interpreting it as “lifetime” (which is not in the actual language) is overly harsh, and letting Rose be eligible for HofF votes.

  21. Tampa Mike says:

    To me the lifetime ban and the HOF should be separate issues, like they were for years. Keep the lifetime ban on Rose so he can never have another job in baseball, but like him into the hall. The Black Sox were way worse because they were throwing games, there is no evidence Rose ever did anything like that.

  22. Just a thought. Whenever Joe wants to get 100+ comments all he needs to say is (1) Pete Rose (2) Jack Morris… although this ship has probably now sailed (3) Mike Trout/Miguel Cabrera or (4) Steroid users should be in the HOF. I’d say Joe Paterno, as well, but I don’t think we’ll be seeing any Paterno blogs anytime soon.

    That’s your formula folks. Use it wisely.

  23. Contrast this with your post about the Hall taking a stand, and I have to wonder why baseball writers who think Rose should be enshrined don’t take more of a stand on this. The Hall could, of course, enshrine Rose despite MLB’s ban, but because they perceive that their relationship is delicate, or that they must appease in order to keep the memorabilia flowing, they’re never going to do that. The Hall of Fame is going to keep Rose off until MLB dictates otherwise.

    But it seems to me that if sportswriters who have a HOF vote really wanted to change this, they could, at the very least, get a serious discussion going, or at best begin the dialogue within the HOF that might change things. I don’t know how many writers do or do not think Rose belongs in the Hall, but imagine if everyone who does believe that votes for Rose next year. Imagine if Pete Rose received the requisite 75%? Or even 60 or 50 or 40%? Of course, this would mean one sportswriter trying to herd the cats that are the BBWAA, trying to get them to agree, and this in an environment where you’ve already only got ten votes for 6,000 players that all belong next year. Still, I’d love to see that, if only to see what it would arouse in the Hall of Fame or Major League Baseball.

  24. pete’s bigger than the hall of fame. funny how few people have seemed to take serious note of this over the last 25 years.

  25. George Purcell says:

    I support a vote for Rose the year after he dies. I don’t want him getting into the HOF alive.

  26. Bill Caffrey says:

    Many commenters are throwing around the term “lifetime ban.” For the record, and Joe has made this point many times, Pete Rose received a permanent ban, not a lifetime ban. The difference being that even after he dies, he will remain ineligible for the HoF (under the rule adopted in 1991) until such time as his permanent ban is lifted. If it were a lifetime ban then his death would automatically make him eligible.

    • Karyn says:

      So much this. In fact, it’s the solution I prefer. Switch to an actual lifetime ban, then elect him in after he kicks. That way, he’ll know that his legacy ‘such as it is’ will be preserved, but he’ll never get to enjoy it himself.

  27. BigSteve says:

    Rose has done nothing in the interim to indicate that he deserves mercy, the quality of which would be strained by lifting the ban. You have to be sorry to deserve mercy, not just sorry you got caught.

    • Breadbaker says:

      This is exactly how I feel. If Pete Rose had kept his mouth shut and his nose clean, instead of showing up in Cooperstown to sign autographs and take the spotlight away from players who were actually being enshrined, I’d feel a lot differently than I do. Not being in the Hall of Fame is not punishment; just ask Jack Morris. It is denying someone a highest honor. Albert Belle was not permanently banned but isn’t on the Hall of Fame ballot even though his numbers are quite Hall-worthy. Is he being punished? And when does he get mercy?

  28. Matt Barnett says:

    I personally like the idea of a lifetime ban, vs. a permanent one. So Rose would be eventually be eligible for enshrinement, as his achievements within the game of baseball merit, but would be denied the honor while still living.

  29. Skipper says:

    The idea that it matters whether Rose explicitly bet on his team to lose is a pretty flawed one, in my opinion. The difference between betting on them to lose and not betting on them to win is almost non-existent. If Rose had a bet on a certain game, he could have easily burned out his bullpen one night to try to get the win and then not bet on the next game because he knew his ‘pen was gassed. Contrarily, he could’ve held out his ace relievers on certain nights when they were needed to make sure they were fresh for the next day’s game that he had money riding on. He was undoubtedly prioritizing the winning of certain games over others because of his own personal financial investment as opposed to making decisions that would have prioritized the winning of the maximum number of games. Betting on only certain games (which Rose has admitted to) distorts the competitive environment nearly as much as trying to throw games.

  30. Mean Dean says:

    Without parole hearings where they attempt to prove they’ve turned a new leaf?

  31. Mean Dean says:

    Whoops, that was in response to “Of course in reality, murderers who get life sentences are routinely discharged or released after 25 years…” above.

  32. Michael Green says:

    I am willing to cut Fay Vincent slack if only for the moment when Doug Harvey stood up at a dinner and said, almost in so many words, that he and Giamatti were the only two commissioners the umpires really respected. That said ….

    Pete Rose should be inducted. Shoeless Joe Jackson should be inducted. Jon Miller once said that the Hall of Fame without Rose is like the photos from China where Mao is sometimes in them and sometimes airbrushed out, depending on his reputation at the moment. But Miller also said–and I am sure he heard this from Joe Morgan–that Rose did the one thing they all find unacceptable, and that if he went in, a lot of the Hall of Famers wouldn’t show up for the ceremony, and it would be too embarrassing.

    Well, tough. The Hall of Fame has people who have copped to cheating (Perry, Drysdale). It has someone who should have been jailed for assault on a baseball field (Marichal). It has drug users and alcoholics (just about anybody who played in the greenies era). As said above, the plaques should acknowledge the faults, such as gambling and steroids. But who can deny that Rose should be in there on the merits?

  33. Dan Lanz says:

    I would settle for MLB granting the Reds permission to celebrate Rose’s career by inducting him into the TEAM hall of fame, retiring the number 14 and dedicating a statue outside the stadium alongside his teammates Bench and Morgan. You can keep him out of Cooperstown but Cincinnati should be able to celebrate his career however they please.

  34. Chris Smith says:

    Whether he bet for or against the Reds while he played or managed is irrelevant. If there’s one thing I do believe about Pete Rose is that he ALWAYS tried to win.

  35. ibrosey says:

    Fay Vincent believes with all of his soul that Pete Rose killed Bart Giamatti. That is Rose’s unforgivable sin, and Vincent will go to his own grave lobbying against Rose. Vincent is only a couple of years older than Rose. Can Pete outlast him?

  36. Tom Wright says:

    Since we’re comparing Rose to people who corked bats and such, I figure I should interject and point out that Rose also corked his bats:

  37. Dave says:

    Create an exhibition about Rose and others at Cooperstown. Have the room the size of a closet. Label it the Hall of Shame. Put the Black Sox and Rose in it. Locate it by the lavatories. Their story will be told.

  38. Chip S. says:

    It seems to me that Joe’s points 1 and 2 make this an open-and-shut case. It’s a well-known rule with a clearly stated consequence for violation. Seems pretty simple.

    The Hall of Fame’s position is also clear: things other than career stats matter. In fact, Rule 5 lists “playing ability” as only one of five criteria for election:

    5. Voting: Voting shall be based upon the player’s record, playing ability, integrity, sportsmanship, character, and contributions to the team(s) on which the player played.

    I’m pretty sure that repeated violations of the clearly stated and well-known rule against gambling are relevant to an assessment of a player’s character. In fact, the HoF seems to view this factor seriously enough that it won’t even allow voters the opportunity to overlook it in cases so severe as to warrant banishment from the game.

    That ought to be enough, but since so many people here think that being the “Hit King” should automatically qualify Rose for the Hall, I’ll also refer to Rule 6:

    6. Automatic Elections: No automatic elections based on performances such as a batting average of .400 or more for one (1) year, pitching a perfect game or similar outstanding achievement shall be permitted.

    While the obvious focus of this rule is on extraordinary achievements within a brief span of time, it still reminds voters that there is no single criterion for election. And that would arguably include total hits over a career.

  39. BobDD says:

    Rose claims that Giamatti made a secret deal with him to get him reinstated “later” – at times Rose has claimed that to be a period of only one year. Giamatti is on record as saying there was no such deal of any kind.

    Dear Joe, why are you accepting Rose’s claims over Giamatti. I think you’ve stepped off a bridge here without realizing it.

  40. DjangoZ says:

    We talk about people being “small hall” vs. “big hall”, but I think we need to add “small tolerance” vs “big tolerance”.

    I’m definitely small tolerance. I would not vote for Clemens, Bonds or anyone else caught cheating. But I think you really have to be big tolerance to consider voting Rose in.

  41. Ian R. says:

    What Rose has actually admitted to is having a large standing bet on the Reds to win every night. If we take him at his word (which, of course, is questionable, but it IS consistent with his ultra-competitive personality), there’s no reason to believe it affected his managing. Every game was equally valuable.

    • Breadbaker says:

      How convenient of him. What is the evidence of this, rather than that it’s the kind of assertion that might make someone think what you do, Ian R.?

      But of course your assertion is untrue. A manager’s interest and a gambler’s interest are different. A manager has to develop the team, worry about next year as well as this year. A gambler just wants to win today.

      • Ian R. says:

        I’d contend that if the Reds wanted to build a great team for next year, then Pete Rose was entirely the wrong choice to manage the team in the first place. They knew when they gave him the job that his style was to win today at all costs.

        You’re free to disagree, of course. I think there’s at least a case to be made that the gambling didn’t affect his managing in any material way – it may have pushed him to manage a certain way, but that’s the way he was wired to manage in the first place.

  42. tombando says:

    Rose was easily about 56 Sanduskies Above Replacement, so telling him to hit the showers so tospeak beggars belief. The only part about Shoeless Joe getting in is I thought Joe Pesci would ditto as they were pretty ok in that Casino Prequel together.

  43. Ian R. says:

    For what it’s worth, Willie Mays and Mickey Mantle were briefly banned from baseball by Commissioner Bowie Kuhn for their involvement with (non-baseball-related) gambling casinos. Peter Ueberroth reinstated them.

    That’s not exactly analogous to this hypothetical case with Sandberg, but they weren’t thrown out of the Hall of Fame.

  44. pumpkino says:

    I’m baffled that I see no comment about Vincent’s “killing question”. The point of the gambling ban, is (outside of the obvious) indeed getting in hock to gamblers too deep and so being compelled to throw a game. Rose would be inducted as a player. Is there any evidence he bet as a player? To use someone who is not yet in the Hall (as opposed to Seaver) if Randy Johnson tomorrow bets a substantial sum on baseball, of course I think he should get banned from a “baseball job”, but does that really make him ineligible (by rule) for the Hall? Vincent’s statement kinda implies that Seaver WOULD be removed from the Hall, even if he lives to be a 100 and bets when he’s 99. That’s pretty weird I think, but I do believe that’s what the rules since 1991 say. The Hall does differentiate players from all other personages (Bobby Cox DID play 3B for the Yankees you know) yet with Rose it’s a blanket thing. Maybe it is a necessary evil as a deterrent, but is Vincent really serious using Seaver’s question as his trump card? And so… there is no line? This is what I think Joe is trying to point out. And, I like to be naive, but shouldn’t the HOF be separate from the operations and business of MLB? It’d be nice, which I think was the point of Joe Jackson being eligible. And anyway, Vincent ends up unintentionally casting Rose as a martyr, as the HOF doesn’t even have the option to “not elect” Rose. In any case – his playing career? No?

    • Ian R. says:

      The rule only prohibits banned players from appearing on Hall of Fame ballots – it says nothing about players who are already in the Hall of Fame. Indeed, current Hall of Famers HAVE been banned from baseball (and subsequently reinstated) without ever being kicked out of the Hall.

      Moreover, Seaver couldn’t be declared permanently ineligible under the rules because he’s not currently employed by an MLB team in a capacity that allows him to affect the outcome of a game. Someone like Ryne Sandberg, on the other hand…

  45. Lois Fundis says:

    There needs to be an alternative, let’s call it Purgatory, version of the Hall of Fame, for people who belong in the Hall *except* for…. gambling (Rose, Shoeless Joe Jackson…), steroids (Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Mark McGuire). Probably can come up with more categories. Retrospectively, perhaps, too: Ty Cobb (racism, general assholery)?

    Then again, Roberto Clemente ought to be officially — by the Pope — canonized as a saint because he died helping poor people. Maybe Roberto’s heroism outweighs some of these other guys’ jerkhood. Ditto for some other truly great on-and-off-the-field guys; Stan Musial, Christy Mathewson, Lou Gehrig…

  46. Mike G says:

    Troubled by the inconsistency comparing the PED folks and Rose. The strongest argument for allowing Bonds and Clemens in the HoF, IMO, is that enshrinement in the HoF is recognition of that players place in baseball history first and an honorarium second. Bonds and Clemens by any measure are two of the greatest players in MLB history, and simply ignoring them does a disservice to the HoF as a history museum. I love this line of reasoning – the HoF is for the public first and foremost.

    The stance that Rose has been “punished” flies in the face of this other position as its arguing the secondary purpose of his enshrinement. As someone that violated the rules of the game, I am far less sympathetic to rewarding Rose with enshrinement. I want him in there, not as a reward to him, but acknowledging his proper place in baseball history.

  47. Dan W. says:

    Somewhere,Ray Fosse,is smiling….

  48. Tim says:

    As a manager, banned, kaput, nada. But as a player, Rose is certainly a hall-of-famer. In a way, I don’t care if he gambled while as a player. Look at his stats-grubbing line. You tell me he took a day off so he could win some loot. Nope. Doubt it. He worked for every measly single he put on in his old age. On the field the guy was a gamer. And a hall-of-famer.

    As a manager, well, different story. And that’s why the l’affair Rose is so interesting.

  49. TRad says:

    “Vincent is saying that reinstating a 73-year-old Rose — after TWENTY FIVE years of banishment — would reduce the deterrent effect of the no-gambling rule?”

    Of course it would. If somebody cares about getting into HoF and he knows gambling means no HoF – he won’t gamble, period. If he knows it means 25 years long timeout and then HoF – maybe he won’t, maybe he will.

    I like Joe’s writings but his “bleeding heart” approach is disgusting.

  50. Jere says:

    At the time Pete was banned from baseball, that did NOT include banned from the Hall of Fame. There were separate ‘changes’ made after the fact to make that ‘banning’ happen and remove him from the ‘vote’. I’m OK with Pete’s ban from Baseball playing, managing, etc. But I’m NOT OK with his banning from the HOF. Why couldn’t they just the voters decide?

    • “Why couldn’t they just the voters decide?”

      In truth, this is a moot point, since there’s no way in Hades that Pete would ever get anything close to the 75% of BBWAA voters he’d need, nor a sufficient number of votes on the Veteran’s Committee.

      I don’t get the indignation over Pete Rose’s exclusion from the HOF. You know, it’ s not as if he isn’t given prominent mention in the museum exhibits and literature – he is, in this sense, *present* in the HOF. He simply doesn’t have a plaque,and he never got to make some elegaic speech on a balmy day in Cooperstown. Likewise, his records are all there for anyone to see; we all know he’s the all-time hits leader. His place in the history of the game is secure. It can’t be erased, like pharoahs of Egypt would do to discredited predecessors by removing their names from the monuments and temples.

      But being in the Hall is an honor and a privilege. It’s not an automatic entry. If it were, we could all save ourselves a lot of time and trouble if it was just automatic induction for any player who hit certain bench marks, no matter what else he did, and not bother with voting. And that character clause does remain in the rules. So what does it take to actually exclude someone for reasons of character? Would a player have to actually rape and kill someone during a game? Become a genocidal dictator? Sell crack to 8 year olds out of the clubhouse?

      Pete has had plenty of opportunity to come clean and show some remorse and honesty. Instead, he’s lied over and over again and been an obnoxious and obstreperous (and yes, regular participant in gambling) man, one who violated the one rule (posted in every clubhouse, prominently) you just don’t violate, over and over again. Had he shown candor and remorse, I think plenty of people in the Hall and plenty of fans would would be ready to support letting him in to the Hall (albeit still banned from baseball).

      • Jere says:

        I will agree that it would have been an ‘uphill’ battle for Pete to win support from either the BBWAA or the Veteran’s committee. But at least there could/should have been that dialog.

        It is also true that the building that ‘houses’ the HOF also ‘houses’ a museum of baseball and Pete is in that museum, so he is in the ‘building’. But separate from the museum is the HOF. It is literally a ‘hall’ with plagues on the sides. You say being in the HOF is an honor and a privilege. I’d suggest that it is called the Hall of FAME, not the Hall of Honor. I’m not saying that Pete is an honorable person. Aside from the age difference, he is not the kind of person that I’d want my daughter to marry. But he is certainly famous. While some will argue that you need 300 wins, or 500 home runs or a lifetime average of .300+ to be in the HOF. (And you can insert any of the newer sabermetrics criteria here for whatever cutoff you like in setting HOF criteria). But it is called a Hall of FAME. Not a hall of 300 game winners. Not hall of 500 home run hitters. Not a Hall of players whose WAR exceeded X. I’d suggest that fame needs to be part of the criteria.

        I can think of no baseball player more famous that Pete who is not already in the HOF.

        • Hello Jere,

          Seems like there’s two distinct questions here. 1) Should the HOF reopen his eligibility so that Rose gets a vote? and 2) Being allowed this vote, should the BBWAA (or veterans cmte) actually vote him in? One is a procedural question; the other is the substance of whether he actually belongs, which obviously is a subjective determination that each voter must make.

          My opinion is obviously “no” to both; but I understand that these are separate questions. I understand the argument for at least allowing a vote (which after all was never addressed in the deal he cut with Commissioner Giamatti) better than I do the one trying to persuade me that he belongs in the Hall.

          It is indeed called the “Hall of Fame,” but I think this is a semantic convention, used by many such entities, which nonetheless entails more than just fame or even prowess. If it didn’t, the criteria given to voters since 1936 would NOT include the character clause. Now, maybe that clause *shouldn’t* be there, you may argue; but it *is* there, and has always been there, and obviously has been taken into account by generations of voters.

          Note why the gambling rule is there. The Hall has never really been interested in addressing off-the-field vices; it has not kept out philanderers (Ruth, Mantle, etc.) or racists (Anson, Cobb), right bastards (Cobb) or absentee fathers or alcoholics and substance abusers (a substantial list). But the gambling rule goes to the integrity of the game; the Black Sox and like scandals actually jeopardized the game itself, threatening its survival. That’s why it’s there. That’s why Rose has been treated so harshly.

          Pete didn’t just gamble; Pete didn’t just gamble incessantly, every day; Pete didn’t just gamble on MLB; Pete gambled on games he played and managed, and, if the implications of some references in the Dowd Report, and other sources are to be believed, he even bet against the Reds. Which raises the possibility that, deep in debt to bookies demanding immediate payment, he may have managed or played in such a way to throw games. Or in the alternative: worked too hard to win particular games he wagered on the Reds to win by making decisions that jeopardized the ability of the team to win subsequent games, by burning certain pitchers, for example. All of which risks the integrity of the games. And worse, he has refused to come clean about any of it, or show any remorse.

          I’d just ask you one final question, since we may differ on a number of things here: Is there ANY possible behavior or action, on or off the field, that, in your opinion, ought to disqualify an otherwise eligible player from induction into the HOF?

          • Jere says:


            re: Is there ANY possible behavior or action, on or off the field, that, in your opinion, ought to disqualify an otherwise eligible player from induction into the HOF?

            In a word, no.

            Let me elaborate a little bit. The good book tells us not to judge, for the measure we give is the measure we will receive. There are a lot of folks, not just ballplayers, who behave in unhonorable ways and life goes on. And, as you mentioned, there are many ballplayers in the HOF whose behavior some folks find unhonorable. However, if a ballplayer breaks the law or otherwise exhibits some behavior that goes against the ‘norm’ (I’ll let you or MLB define that) then most likely he won’t be playing baseball. And if he is not playing, he ‘loses’ his ability to become famous and therefore entry to the HOF. We ARE talking about fame as a ballplayer and not infamy or some other type of fame.

            Meanwhile, if he is playing he must be exhibiting the character that MLB deems as meeting the ‘character clause’. So I guess I’m arguing that all performances on the field count as long as they occur in a MLB sanctioned game.

            To repeat myself, I originally said I was OK with Pete’s banishment from baseball. I’m sure that not being able to manage or even go to spring training to help young ballplayers is a severe punishment for Pete. And I probably could be convinced that 25 years banishment is enough.

            But at this point, I was only trying to make the point that the banishment from the HOF without a vote was unfair and unreasonable. And as I mentioned previously, I can think of no one more famous than Pete, who is not in the Hall of FAME.

        • Karyn says:

          The Hall does not reward fame; it confers it.

          Bo Jackson is famous as hell; he’s not a Hall of Famer.

  51. Scott P. says:

    I asked this in the previous Pete Rose thread: Has Pete Rose stopped gambling on baseball? If the answer is no (and with a compulsive gambler like Rose, I that is extremely likely to be the case), what is the rationale for lifting the ban?

    • Richard M says:

      As of 2010, apparently, Pete was seen placing bets on horse races at an autograph convention:

      • Richard M says:

        …Which, I know, doesn’t answer the question of whether he still bets on baseball. There are plenty of witnesses to a continued pattern of heavy gambling by Rose up through recent years; whether he gambles on MLB games isn’t clear. It wouldn’t surprise me if he did. I imagine it wouldn’t be hard to figure out, if the HOF wanted to.

    • Karyn says:

      I don’t think it matters anymore. He’s not involved in organized baseball; who cares if he runs some action? I think anyone not currently employed by a team should be able to make baseball bets, and not have their HoF chances ruined.

      By which I mean, let’s say that Chipper Jones was found to throw a few hundred on the Braves now and again. As long as he’s not hanging around the team, chatting with the boys and such, it shouldn’t matter.

  52. […] If you can look past your HOF fatigue for a moment,Joe Posnanski posts an excellent take down of former Commish Fay Vincent for his blatant mistruths about the HOF and questionable rationale for keeping Pete Rose off the ballot. Vincent criticized a NYT op-ed by Kostya Kennedy (who has an upcoming book on Charlie Hustle) for saying that Rose is the only player in history to not appear on the HOF ballot because MLB made them ineligible. The not-so Fayman incorrectly states that Joe Jackson was in the same boat, even though he appeared on a couple of ballots in the ’40s. […]

  53. J Weirich says:

    I think Rose should not get in in his lifetime. As bad as PEDS were, the players were still trying to win. We won’t ever know if Rose threw games in interest of winning a bet and for that he should never have the privilege of being inducted while alive, after he’s dead, maybe, but not while he’s alive.

  54. […] If you can look past your HOF fatigue for a moment,Joe Posnanski posts an excellent take down of former Commish Fay Vincent for his blatant mistruths about the HOF and questionable rationale for keeping Pete Rose off the ballot. Vincent criticized a NYT op-ed by Kostya Kennedy (who has an upcoming book on Charlie Hustle) for saying that Rose is the only player in history to not appear on the HOF ballot because MLB made them ineligible. The not-so Fayman incorrectly states that Joe Jackson was in the same boat, even though he appeared on a couple of ballots in the ’40s. […]

  55. I have never doubted that the permanent ban of Rose has always been personal in nature. Overlooked it all of this is the fact that more than punishing Rose, it is punishing the fans. But then, when did MLB ownership, and the commissioner’s office is ownership, care about the fans?

  56. Jonathan Doe says:

    Like Shoeless Joe Jackson and his 1919 Black Sox teammates, Pete Rose is the ninth man out. His gambling illness made him so delusional to think that he was above it all and was bullet-proof and that rules don’t apply to him.

    I read his “Prison Without Bars” book and it talks about his two personality disorders. He suffers from both ADHD and something called oppositional-defiant behavior. He seems textbook manic to me. Like thinking that he is right and the rest of the world is wrong. This attitude of self may have helped him become the player with the most hits in the game, among other records, but it was sadly also his undoing.

    Who in their right mind goes to upstate New York every summer to oppose Hall Of Fame festivities and sell autographs? Love of conflict. That’s Pete Rose logic.

    Rose is an obsessive, aggressive maniac who once said that he would walk through h_ll in a gasoline suit for baseball. Sparky Anderson was filmed at a table with Pete and they were reminiscing about how Sparky lovingly referred to him as an animal on the playing field once he put on a baseball uniform.

    No doubt Rose was a great player and accomplished alot of things in the game. He thought he was Superman and got caught.

    In my opinion, Cooperstown will never enshrine him. Ever. And you can bet on that.

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