It would be simple to study Pete Rose’s record as a player with the Cincinnati Reds and Philadelphia Phillies and determine whether he should be elected to baseball’s Hall of Fame. Certainly. Absolutely. Without a doubt.
But because of Rose’s foolish choice to bet heavily on sports, especially baseball, there’s never been a vote about his worthiness to be inducted in the game’s shrine in Cooperstown, New York. After a long investigation conducted by Major League Baseball, Rose was banned from the game.
There was every reason to agree with Commissioner Bart Giamatti’s decision in 1989 to end Rose’s association with baseball. It meant little that Rose held the record for career hits. He knowingly broke one of baseball’s sacred rules, and there was a steep price to pay.
Rose, who once accepted the cheers and accolades of a champion, faced a life of shame and ridicule.
Many years have passed, and the once-great player has survived by signing autographs along the Las Vegas strip and about anywhere else someone will give him an appearance fee. It’s as if he’s been imprisoned, but not locked behind bars.
This summer marks the 25th anniversary of Giamatti’s ruling and certainly will draw a public review of Rose’s actions and the appropriateness of his lifetime ban. In fact, it’s already begun.
Last week Rose served a day as manager of the Bridgeport, Connecticut, Bluefish, an independent league team, and again expressed hope that one day his lifetime ban will be lifted. He sounded contrite in an interview with ESPN’s Darren Rovell: “I’ve waited 25 years, but I’ve done so because I was the one who screwed up. And if I were given a second chance, I would be the happiest guy in the world.”