To this day, one of the greatest hitters of all time, Peter Edward Rose, is yet to be immortalized in the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York. As a player, he was extraordinary. He played in 17 All Star games, and won three World Series. He won two Gold Glove awards, and a few MVPs. He is the all-time leader in hits, 4,286, at-bats, 14,053, and games played, 3,562. He created the head first slide to a bag, and never actually walked when he was walked; his constant speed and determination garnished his nickname, Charlie Hustle. A player of his caliber can only be left out of the Hall of Fame for one reason and one reason only, lying. Pete Rose had a gambling problem and bet on his own team while managing the Cincinnati Reds. Rose, of course, denied the claims for many years, even stating in an interview with Jim Gray of Sports Illustrated, “I’m not going to admit to something that didn’t happen.” Rose was confident in his language and use of words during the interview, and people believed him. He sounded real. Then came the truth. In his autobiography, Rose admitted to betting on baseball; however, he said he only bet for the Reds to win.
I am an apologetic supporter of this unique Hall of Fame situation. I believe that the Hall of Fame should be the place where one is immortalized because of what he did on the field, not what he did off of it. I argue for the induction of these men, cheaters or not, because it is a part of baseball history. The way the Hall of Fame voting process has been is wrong and unfair to those who deserve to be inducted. Once a year, baseball writers for across the country arbitrarily vote for whom they think should go into the Hall of Fame. They are allowed ten votes, one for any name on the ballot. Those with seventy five percent of the vote or higher are inducted in. An uneducated baseball mind may think that seems fair, but when one digs deeper into the situation it is evident that it isn’t. A baseball writer’s job is to inform the public about anything happening in the game, and during the steroid era, 1995- 2005, all they did was praise these men for their incredible numbers and the way the put on a show, completely giving a blind eye to what was really going on. Now, these same men who praised these players, players of which have now been caught for cheating, are voting for their acceptance into the Hall of Fame. They are the judge, the jury, and the ultimate reason why the Hall of Fame today is a lackluster view of what it can be. Betting on baseball is illegal, which is the reason Pete Rose was kicked off the ballot in the first place. If doing something illegal gets you kicked off the ballot, then shouldn’t every player ever caught taking steroids be taken off the ballot as well. Not in the eyes of the only people that matter, the baseball writers.
With all of the steroid era players now appearing on the Hall of Fame ballot, Pete Rose is still getting no say as to whether he deserves to be inducted in the Hall of Fame with them. He deserves to be in. Yes, he bet on baseball, but only as a manager. He cheated, he lied, but so did Roger Clemens, Barry Bonds, Rafael Palmeiro, Sammy Sosa, Mark McGuire, and the list goes on and on. Nothing these men did is anything different than what Pete Rose did. Rose’s lapse in judgment tarnished the game’s integrity. It did not improve his chances to be enshrined. Can we say the same for Bonds, Clemens, McGwire, Palmeiro, Sosa and Alex Rodriguez? All are at least suspected of cheating the game, in a different way, a better way, apparently. Each made the right mistake. Allegedly. None has joined Rose on the game’s permanently ineligible list.
Due to a better understanding of the game, players are clean and playing baseball the natural way, a way that Pete Rose played, hard nosed, dirty, rough. The Hall of Fame’s purpose is to honor achievement; it is a museum, a shrine, to the history of baseball, good or bad. Rose had 4,256 hits. No one had more. Rose’s gambling didn’t help him get 4,256 hits. It didn’t mess with the outcome of a game any more than another player’s pill, cream, or needle did. It’s erroneous to suggest that because Rose never was found to have bet against his own team, his gambling was less harmful. Rose was admittedly a selfish player, but his selfishness never hurt his team. Compare that with the profound selfishness displayed by Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens.
Peter Edward Rose was banned for life from baseball because of allegedly betting on baseball games. Nineteen thirty six Hall of Fame inductee, Ty Cobb, openly admitted to murdering a man, but this did not stop him from entering the Hall of Fame. If not the greatest player, Ty Cobb was easily the fiercest competitor. He was a racist who refused to even look at someone with darker skin. He was malevolent, day in and day out. He would sharpen his cleats before games to make sure everyone knew that if you got in his way you were making a trip to the emergency room before the day was over. Rose, fierce like Cobb, heightened the hatred of him throughout his years playing and after. But, if one is going to compare Pete Rose to Ty Cobb, then treat Pete Rose like Ty Cobb.
The Hall of Fame’s purpose is to preserve baseball history and immortalize those who played the game. One hundred years from now, when fathers are telling their sons about Cooperstown and the history of baseball, will baseball have done the right thing and enshrine this man, to make sure his legacy will live on? If this keeps him from ever seeing his name on a plaque on the wall in Cooperstown, than what is the purpose of the Hall of Fame? There is nothing more for Charlie Hustle than to just wait. He needs to tell his side of the story; he needs to support all that is right with baseball, but most of all he needs to wait. Sadly, waiting is all he has left. He has paid his dues and now he has to sit and watch as one by one, these cheaters get elected in. Pete Rose played with the most hustle and the most intensity of anyone who ha
s ever played this game. His passion, his love for winning, and being the best has, up to this day, been in vain. Something needs to be done with the Hall of Fame. Something needs to be
fixed to show the fans, and prove to the writers that all men, morally good or bad, need to be placed in the Hall of Fame because of what they accomplished on the field, not their blunders off of it. Pete Rose is now seventy-one years old, his wait though, seems to be lasting him an eternity.
“Cincinnati Reds.” Bleacher Report. N.p., n.d. Web. 05 Mar. 2013.
Daugherty, Paul. “Why Rose Should Be in Hall of Fame and Drug Cheats Should Not.” Pete Rose Deserves a Spot in Cooperstown but Steroid Users Do Not. N.p., n.d. Web. 05 Mar. 2013.
Stark, Jayson. “White Sox Go from Cursed ToÂ first.” ESPN.com. N.p., n.d. Web. 05 Mar. 2013.