It should be noted that August 24 marks the 20th anniversary of the date that Pete Rose accepted the lifetime ban from baseball. Wikipedia probably explains it this way as a reminder for how the ban was announced:
On August 24, 1989, Rose voluntarily accepted a permanent place on baseballÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s ineligible list. Rose accepted that there was a factual reason for the ban; in return, Major League Baseball agreed to make no formal finding with regard to the gambling allegations. According to baseball’s rules, Rose could apply for reinstatement in one year.
Also, as a reminder, in the same moment that baseball was announcing that no formal finding would be announced, baseball commissioner Bart Giamatti said that his personal opinion was that Rose did indeed bet on baseball. So, formally or informally, the announcement was made.
Keep in mind at the time that many thought Rose may still be eligible for the Hall of Fame…it would be up to the writers to vote him in or out. As mentioned the other day, Rose was legendary amongst the writers, and it was also publicly stated that Rose could file for reinstatement after one year. I have little doubt, that Rose, the gambler, was gambling on the writers voting him in anyway and that baseball would somehow forgive its biggest ambassador of the 1970’s.
It wasn’t to be…Rose’s bulldogged demeanor and mannerisms challenged baseball all the way; Commissioner Giamatti succumbed to a heart attack; and public opinion, including that of the writers soured. Then….then…baseball pressured the Hall of Fame, an alleged private institution not controlled by Major League Baseball, into a ruling that any player on the permanently ineligible list no be included in the Hall of Fame voting.
Years later, Rose admitted that he did bet on the games, apparently hoping that this “admission” of guilt, coupled with his earlier request for reinstatement, would give him another opportunity to participate in the game he loved and make him eligible for the Hall of Fame. Instead, the admission seemed to turn the rest of the world against him, too, and his actual “admission” now took the place of any reasonable doubt. Now, he admittedly had violated the “no gambling” on baseball rule and he’s still left out in the cold.
I have little doubt there’s been disingenuous behavior on both sides. Rose thought baseball couldn’t overcome public opinion and the fans love for him, and I think was playing the “odds” on reinstatement. Meanwhile, baseball commissioners haven’t even taken the time to play coy on Rose’s reinstatement request. They just ignore it, and that’s not right either. The commissioner can always say no, and I would anticipate Rose reapplying every year.
I think it’s time; it’s time to move on to being able to explain the Pete Rose story to our kids with a happy ending, too. As I’ve read elsewhere, murderers get 20 years to life…does this penalty seem real?
And, now with the steroid scandal, where does baseball go from here? How do these individuals compare to Rose? Weren’t they, too, gambling on changing game and personal outcomes for personal gain?
ESPN blogger Rob Neyer has a post on Pete, and you can start following as many links as you want to get the Pete Rose story. It’s time for reinstatement. It may be the first step in healing baseball from this steroid scandal by getting forgiveness and understanding off on the right foot for one of the sport’s most original sons.
Jayson Stark of ESPN has written a piece talking about a meeting Rose, Mike Schmidt, and Joe Morgan had with Bud Selig back in 2003 in attempt to get Rose reinstated. It’s well worth your time reading.