September 14, 2010, - 11:03 am
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Saturday wasn’t just the ninth anniversary of the 9/11 Islamic terrorist attacks on America. It was also the 25th anniversary of something less important but a part of American pop culture: Pete Rose’s milestone Major League Baseball record 4,192nd hit, breaking Ty Cobb’s record. Yes, it took place on September 11, 1985. The Reds celebrated this, bringing Rose on the field before a game against Pittsburgh, and Rose was unanimously cheered, with fans chanting, “Hall of Fame!”
So, yet again the old question pops up: should Pete Rose be admitted to pro baseball’s Hall of Fame, even though he admitted to betting on baseball, including Reds games (an admission in his 2004 autobiography)? I say, yes, and that’s always been my position. I know baseball writers hold players to a stricter standard than other sports, but my view is that if a murderer of two people, who is now serving in prison (O.J. Simpson) can be in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, as well as a repeat drug offender who now stands charged with soliciting a teen prostitute (Lawrence Taylor), why not Rose for baseball’s hall–whose crimes were far less, though not from a “game purity” standard? Currently playing in the NFL are a dog-torturer- and -murderer (Michael Vick a/k/a “Ookie” a/k/a “Ron Mexico”), a guy who killed a man while driving under the influence (Donte Stallworth), and a murderer of three people (Ray Lewis). Is Rose worse–or even as bad–as these guys and an assortment of other such thugs on the gridiron?
All of the criminals I mentioned above are Black. Rose is White. So, it begs the question: are sports writers (many of whom vote on both baseball’s and football’s halls and who is admitted into them) racist? Is their attitude such that they hold a White pro athlete to a higher standard and give Black criminals a pass? Or is it a question of game purity–that the criminals never bet on the games they played or on the teams for which they played (as far as we know)?
Either way, I don’t think Rose’s crimes rise to the level that he should be banned forever from baseball’s hall. He already has a lifetime ban from Major League Baseball, and yet, including Saturday’s event, clearly MLB is trying to have it both ways–banning him and helping keep him from the Hall of Fame, while benefitting from hosting him at a Reds game. MLB gave special permission for Rose to appear on the field, Saturday, and also for him to appear on the field in 1999 at a World Series Game as part of baseball’s All-Century team. So, clearly, the lifetime ban isn’t really a lifetime ban. There are exceptions.
And there should be an exception made for Rose’s place in Cooperstown’s hall. He was a phenomenal pro baseball player. His betting on games, however improper, doesn’t change that.
I say, let him in. What do you think? Should Pete Rose be allowed into baseball’s Hall of Fame? Is his 25 years of punishment enough? Or is his betting on his own team’s games unforgivable and worthy of a zero tolerance policy?
Bonus Video (Chock Full of ’80s Cheesitude):
When sports hall-of-famers like Cassius Clay [DS: Muhammad Ali] and Lew Alcindor [DS: Kareem Abdul-Jabbar] were bad-mouthing America and trashing our war effort, Pete was traveling to Viet Nam to support our troops.
Tags: 25th Anniversary, baseball, bet on baseball, Cincinnati Reds, Cooperstown, Hall of Fame, Major League Baseball, MLB, Pete Rose, pro baseball, Pro Baseball Hall of Fame, record