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 baseball’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.

28 Responses

  1. CeeKeR

    I don’t see how you can put a steriod player in the Hall and not Rose – at least Rose’s betting came as a manager… That said, it’ll be interesting to see what happens when the first round of “steriod era” players are eligible, that might give some insight into what will eventually happen with Rose.

  2. RiverCity Redleg

    I don’t see why you can’t seperate baseball activity and the Hall of Fame. His playing career is unquestionably HoF worthy. He should be inducted, regardless if he’s ever eligible to participate in current ML activities or be employed by MLB.

  3. RC

    OK, this might not be the most popular position a fellow could take aroun here… but here goes:

    I do not understand why people try to draw any sort of parallel between Pete and the steroid guys. Like it or not, the players who used steroids were looking for an edge – a way to be a better player. It’s spitballing and bat-corking writ large. Spitballers and bat-corkers, when caught, were given a slap on the wrist, along with a wink and a smile. And baseball definitely looked the other way on steroids while trying to rebuild attendance after the strike – nudge, nudge, wink, wink – until cherished names and numbers started getting wiped off the record books.

    Gambling, on the other hand… if you ever reach a point where, when a player strikes out, or drops a ball, or makes a bad throw, or grooves a fastball, when one of those things make you think in the back of your mind “did he possibly do that on purpose”… on that day, baseball is dead.

    Someone bending/breaking the rules trying to make himself better, vs. someone placing himself in a situation where he could be suspected of purposely making himself worse. To me, not a valid comparison at all.

  4. Dan

    But RC, aren’t you only talking about people who might be trying to intentionally lose a game?

    I’m still not sure where I come down on Rose, but he definitely never did that.

  5. Steve Price

    First, isn’t cheating cheating no matter what the purpose may be? Corked bats are against the rules, grease balls are against the rules…those things are banned, too. Isn’t that kind of the ends justifies the means kind of thinking?

    Rose was never accused of trying to lose a game. Early on investigator John Dowd made a comment that it was possible that Rose would have bet against his own team, but later he said there was no real evidence of that…and he also said that he all the evidence he needed to prove Rose was betting within the first two weeks of the investigation.

    I haven’t read the Dowd Report…but, what is contended about Rose as a manager is that he could have influenced his pitching usage by his betting patterns.

    What most miss is that Rose was one of the first managers to go the one-inning closer route…he converted John Franco from multi-innings to one inning (may be that was to be used more often?…I wonder what Franco has to say…).

    Apparently, one game, after converting Franco to a one-inning guy, Rose used Franco for a couple of innings. That is supposed to be the day that he may have changed an outcome of a future game. What is missed that, from what I remember, is that Franco had not pitched for a few days and needed work. That’s not uncommon, and was kind of a rule of the day for the 1980’s.

    An odd thing is that Rose usually did not bet on days that Mario Soto pitched. As we know, Soto was far and away the best Reds’ pitcher of this time. This is sometimes construed that Rose was betting “against” the Reds, or was some sort of signal to other bettors to not bet on the Reds. That makes little sense to me; it makes more sense to me that Rose knew there wasn’t much of a payoff since he would be betting on Soto, and the odds were higher on other days…

    Either way…frankly, the rule is somewhat antiquated. Baseball allegedly knew of Rose’s betting habits before Giamatti came along. Peter Ueberroth allegedly knew of it; baseball was making money off Rose just like they made money off the steroid capers. There’s one of the connections; and, frankly, I do think gambling could hurt, but I don’t think it’s hurting baseball nearly as much as the owners pocketing money from the “luxury tax” ant not using it to reinvest in their teams to make them competitive with the large market teams.

    That’s where the game and it’s fans are being victimized…

  6. RC

    No, I’m not talking just about players who have purposely tanked (if any exist) – I’m talking about players/managers who have placed themselves in a situation where one could even remotely suspect such things.

    I don’t for one second think Pete ever tried to throw a game. That seems utterly against his competitive nature. Those prospective scenarios where a manager might overuse a pitcher in a game he’s got money on, or it just so happens he gives a couple of his best players a night off in a game he’s not betting… I doubt those actually happened, but I find the thought a little disquieting.

    But more directly, I would ask this: If Pete’s bookie had called him one game day and said “I need you to lose the game tonight, or else I send an envelope full of your betting slips to the Commissioner’s Office”, what would Pete have done?

    These are the specters raised by a player or manager betting on their sport. It’s absolute poison to the game, in a way that steriods, IMO, are not.

  7. RiverCity Redleg

    RC, I agree with you to an extent, but to my point in #4, what’s any of this have to do with his induction into the HoF as a player?

    Whether you believe him or not, if you have read his book, My Prison Without Bars, he mentally kept his betting and his managing completely seperate. As a gambler, he placed his bets on the teams he thought would win. Then, as a manager, he managed to win, focusing only at the task in hand. I’m not excusing his actions, but I can see where he deserves a second chance. However, b/c of the ancillary reprocussions (sp?) of his actions, I can understand not giving him that chance, BUT under no circumstance should he be kept from the Hall of Fame!

  8. JasonL

    To add to what RC said, let us not forget about greenies? For years and years those were used (by many of the best) and nothing happened to those players.

    I do think gambling is different. That said, I’d like to see Rose in the hall just so I can stop reading about it.

  9. Glenn

    The forgiveness portion of this story has long passed. Rose could have been reinstated five years ago if he’d just used his head and played ball with the Comish. Instead he keeps consorting with gamblers and gambling establishments and there’s now way the Comish can justify a reinstatement. Its not in Rose’s make up to eat crow or to be told what to do. He’s going to continue to live his life the way he wants to. Normally that’s fine, but its not going to get him back into baseball, let alone into the Hall of Fame.

  10. Steve Price

    From wikipedia….forgiveness does not require remorse from the offender…though I have to say I think there’s a strong chance that Rose would dance on the grave instead of being contrite…

    Forgiveness is typically defined as the process of concluding resentment, indignation or anger as a result of a perceived offense, difference or mistake, and ceasing to demand punishment or restitution.[1] The Oxford English Dictionary defines forgiveness as ‘to grant free pardon and to give up all claim on account of an offence or debt’. The concept and benefits of forgiveness have been explored in religious thought, the social sciences and medicine. Forgiveness may be considered simply in terms of the person who forgives including forgiving themselves, in terms of the person forgiven and/or in terms of the relationship between the forgiver and the person forgiven. In some contexts, forgiveness may be granted without any expectation of restorative justice, and without any response on the part of the offender (for example, one may forgive a person who is incommunicado or dead). In practical terms, it may be necessary for the offender to offer some form of acknowledgment, apology, and/or restitution, or even just ask for forgiveness, in order for the wronged person to believe himself able to forgive.[1]

  11. Steve Price

    Secondly, and the point that’s being missed in my post….

    Baseball may soon need Pete Rose…it may not be until the steroid scandal reaches it’s pinnacle, but the the reinstatement of Rose will start reconcilation on all fields. Baseball will have difficulty honoring the new records, or dealing with ignoring them, and Rose and his love/amabassadorship of baseball would deflect some criticism.

  12. RC

    By the way, since I haven’t put my cards on the table, I also think Pete’s plaque should be in the HoF – since the primary focus of the game is to get a hit, not having the guy who’s done it more than anyone else in your Hall is pretty lame.

    But no reinstatement, and no induction ceremony.

    All the “foregiveness stuff reminded me if a scenr from O Brother:

    Pete: The Preacher said it absolved us.

    Everett: For him, not for the law. I’m surprised at you, Pete, I gave you credit for more brains than Delmar.

    Delmar: But they was witnesses that seen us redeemed.

    Everett: That’s not the issue Delmar. Even if that did put you square with the Lord, the State of Mississippi’s a little more hard-nosed.

  13. Steve Price

    So, you’re a baseball owner and you have one of the ten greatest players ever, in both ability and popularity, of all time managing your team. You have a winning record in six of the eight years, with a lifetime record winning pct of .543. Your latest year was a bounceback year where you finish second with a .571 winning percentage. Your manager also has one World Series title under his belt.

    Or, let’s say you’re a baseball owner and you have the guy who’s considered the BEST player of all time managing your team, and you have five consecutive winning seasons with him a the helm with a career winning percentage of .519?

    Would you fire them or bring them back?

    In this case, both managers lost their jobs…Tris Speaker is example 1 and Ty Cobb is example 2…and it happened in the same 1926 offseason….and they were never offered another manager’s job again in any league…

    And, to add to the suspense…both guys were player-managers during this time…they were relieved of their management duties after years of success on the job after the 1926 season…yet they played baseball for two more years through 1928. Speaker was 40 when he retired, batting .267 and finishing his career with a .345 lifetime batting average. Cobb was 41 when he retired; his last season he batted .323 and had a career .366 batting mark.

    They both lived more than 30 additional years…Cobb was inducted into the HOF in 1936 and Speaker was inducted in 1937. Cobb was in the first HOF class.

    Below is from what I found when I did a google search on “ty cobb and tris speaker gambling.” It took me to a book named “The 25 Greatest Sports Conspiracy Theories of All Time” by Elliott Kalb and Cris Collingsworth. Publshed is an online book preview so the whole story is not there, but there are many facts.

    After reading that, I’d be curious as to what people think of Cobb and Speaker who seemed to have bet to throw a game for personal gain, and then seem to have blackballed a player for telling on them by releasing him before he could move to the NL; then participated in a cover up….yet the press voted them in…

    What I saw in the preview were pages 119-125…once again a google search on

    ty cobb and tris speaker gambling

    It was the first entry on my search.

  14. Bill Lack

    Steve, when you’re quoting stuff from Wikipedia, it doesn’t help your argument…

    That said, Pete’s playing career is HOF….and there is a dark cloud over his managerial career. Give him the plaque for his time as a player and I wouldn’t care if it had something at the bottom about the betting and suspension.

  15. Steve Price


    That’s a great movie…and I like your analogy.

  16. Steve Price’s just a definition…

    But, I think the Speaker-Cobb story throws the whole betting thing into another orbit…and, frankly, puts the whole banning thing as an exercise in spite…

  17. JasonL


    Just for the record, various audits have shown that wikipedia, despite its reputation, is just as accurate as a typical paper encyclopedia. Wisdom of the masses, you know.

  18. GregD

    This article is about Pete Jr. saying his dad should be in the HOF…but there was this important nugget at the end that hasn’t been mentioned in a while – the HOFers against Pete Rose:

    Ducks manager and Hall of Famer Gary Carter doesn’t share that sentiment.

    “I’ve got to believe that they have to hold true to their word unless they change that rule,” Carter said in reference to baseball’s rules against betting.

    “. . . The majority of the veteran Hall of Famers say Pete will never get in. And I’ve got to go with what the majority of the rest of the Hall of Famers are thinking because they have basically said there is the pride factor, the integrity, and they have all said if Pete Rose gets in, then take my plaque down in Cooperstown.”

  19. Steve Price

    I’m glad Gary has a mind of his own…I’m glad he’s not a lemming.

    Anyway…are they going to kick out Speaker and Cobb? IF…it’s really the integrity of the Hall they’re looking out for…

  20. Steve Price

    OH…the current HOFers against Rose is a major portion of the Jayson Stark piece at

  21. RC

    Funny, I had run across the Cobb/Speaker thing this morning looking up Kenesaw Mountain Landis. Never heard of it before. Apparently, the accusation was made by Dutch Leonard, who had a long history of run-ins with Cobb. AL president Ban Johnson suspended them, but it was none other than Landis who lifted the suspension, due to flimsy evidence and Leonard’s refusal to show up at a meeting with Landis and the accused, out of fear of Cobb.

    And if you want the real story on Kenesaw Mountain Landis in great historical detail, go here:

    I didn’t know half of that stuff…

  22. RC

    And also – cards on the table – I got most of that info from Wikipedia. Now I shall slink away in shame…

  23. preach

    Let me weigh in as someone who has studied the concept of ‘forgiveness’ from a professional aspect:

    I can and must forgive someone, but that does not mean that they do not have to pay the consequences for their actions.

    Every baseball clubhouse has the rule posted regarding gambling. You are not bigger than the game.

    I do not equate a corked bat with steroids and greenies, because, for the most part, the method by which those chemical substances were used were not only against the rules, but illegal. At the same time, when it was clear that Kenny Rogers was using a substance on the ball during the World Series and nothing was done shows that the rules are not equally enforced.

    There are no easy solutions for these issues, and you have to settle them on the dreaded ‘case by case’ answer. Since that is the case here, I have to say that Pete’s action post incident merit forgiveness, but not inclusion.

  24. Steve Price

    Having a run-in with Cobb puts Leonard in lines of hundreds, if not thousands. That probably speaks more for Leonard’s case than against, for the story is that he was afraid of Cobb as seems to be the rule for most.

    I’ve heard this story for years…the smoke on this fire covers the horizon, whether considered a conspiracy theory or not…

    There’s an awfully lot of detail that coincides sith the circumstancial evidence of two successful mega-stars turned successful managers losing their managerial jobs at the same time and never managing again at a very young age…at a time when gambling was nearly running the sport.

  25. RC

    Well, I’ve spent an interesting couple of hours reading various stuff regarding baseball and gambling in the teens and 20s. Probably smoke = fire on the Cobb/Speaker stuff, Landis’ halo a little tarnished by the fact that he (pragmatically, maybe) didn’t treat two wealthy and well-connected pillars of the game the way he’d treated the sad sack Black Sox guys 8 years earlier, and those stories are really just the tip of the iceberg as far as gambling involvement back in the day – even The Babe did some bonehead things that made people go hmmm.

    Ample reasons why we would want to move heaven and earth to keep this sort of thing from happening today.

    Does Cobb’s and Speaker’s presence in the HoF make me rethink Rose’s banishment? I’ll have to ponder that…

  26. Steve Price

    It’s a rather interesting time; people were rougher and so were the players. I’m not certain which Ruth play you’re speaking of, but getting thrown out stealing (on his own) at second base to end a World Series when the the Yanks were one run down with Gehrig at the plate surely raised some eyebrows.

    The Speaker-Cobb deal seems to be a no doubter. I think Rose’s bulldogged arrogance is what led baseball to the banishment; and I think Giamatti probably had a similar demeanor. After all, it had been kind of laughed off in previous discussions.

    I don’t know that it’s time yet for baseball to need Rose…and he may be gone before the time comes; but baseball is going to need a healing time over the steroids issue; and, it will need to happen before HOF nominees become eligible or another firestorm will develop. Can they really afford to ignore HOME RUN records at HOF time? So, the leaders in home runs (Bonds, McGwire and Sosa), hits (Rose), and possibly the best pitcher ever (Clemens) are all going to be ignored and shunned?

    And, as RC (and me) has mentioned here…what greats are left clean? How hypocritical can baseball actually be, and is this really integrity or just a show?

    Baseball is suffering the bleeding of released names over steroids…once enough names are released and/or HOF eligibility arrives…they need to reinstate Rose and use that as a stepping stone to anointing more greats.