For Pete’s Sake, It’s Time!


Character; the issue of character is the obstacle standing in the way of  MLB’s all-time hits leader, Pete Rose, enshrinement into the National Baseball Hall Of Fame.

The word character does have a concrete definition. Merriam-Webster defines character as one of the attributes or features that make up and distinguish an individual. An interesting take is found in the Oxford English version:  “public estimation of someone; reputation.” While these definitions seem solidly outlined in print, interpreting such is vague at best. 

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I understand the facts, that on August 24, 1989 Rose signed the now infamous document known in baseball circles as the Pete Rose/A. Bartlett Giamatti Agreement. There is no question that Mr. Rose bought commissioner Giammati’s vindication upon himself. I believe that it is now time to review his punishment.

Alex Rodriguez is permitted to return to the game after serving a 211-game suspension for using performance enhancing drugs, after audaciously snubbing his nose at authority and interfering with investigations.

‘ARod’ will still be allowed to move up in the record books, easily surpassing Willie Mays for 4th place on the all-time MLB Homerun leaders list this season, barring unforeseen circumstances. Certainly his monetary fortune will continue to swell as well.

Last Saturday, Ted Berg of USA Today Sports, published a piece about a beating delivered as part of hazing by widely beloved Hall of Famer Cal Ripken Jr. If you choose to read the full piece at that link provided, you will have your own opinion of Ripken’s character. But as I stated above, it is nothing more than your own interpretation.

In 1979 and 1983 respectively, Hall of Famers Willie Mays and Mickey Mantle gained employment at Atlantic City casinos. Mays contract was with Bally’s Park Place, Mantle’s with Claridge. Commissioner Bowie Kuhn immediately forced Mays to quit his job as the New York Mets hitting instructor, and forced Mantle out of a coaching position with the Yankees.

Both living legends were banned from any association with any MLB team as long as they were associated with the two casinos. As reported by Barry Petchesky for Deadspin, Kuhn summarized his position following the Mays action in this way: “a casino is no place for a baseball hero and Hall of Famer.

After seeing what had happened with Mays, Kuh warned Mantle that taking the Claridge position could land him on baseball’s dreaded permanently ineligible list. Mantle, perhaps foolishly, accepted the job, and did indeed find himself banished from the game. Mays and Mantle were banished not for poor play, but questions regarding character and association. In 1985, a new Commissioner Peter Ueberroth overturned his predecessor’s ruling and reinstated both former players.

The famous Ty Cobb biography penned by Al Stump relates countless records held by ‘The Georgia Peach‘, but also shows that he did not have the greatest character. Cobb was known for putting an edge on his spikes for the sole purpose of injuring opposing players.

When angered by those in the service industry, or even the general public (some of those attending the very games he played) Cobb’s temper would flare, and some of those people would become victims of a physical beating from the Hall of Famer.

I don’t think that’s going to happen. I just don’t see it.” ~ Rose, on his HOF chances

Look, I understand no one is perfect. Perfection has never been seen looking back in my mirror. What should exist is forgiveness for poor decisions. I don’t know that you will ever read any supplication under my name for the likes of Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Sammy Sosa or Mark McGwire‘s Hall Of Fame worthiness. Too many times, players such as these were warned of violating rules, and they continued playing, publicly denying any wrong-doing.

Pete Rose never admitted to actually betting on and throwing a game for his profit. Whatever his gambling transgressions, they manifested as a manager, not as a player.

According to Rule 5 of the Baseball Writers Association of America, there are six criteria for electing a player into the Hall: their records, playing ability, integrity, sportsmanship, contributions to the team(s) played on, and character.

Pete Rose will turn 74 years old on April 14th. Back in November, he was asked in an interview for whether he believed that, with baseball now having a new Commissioner, there is a greater chance of his reaching the Hall of Fame: “I don’t think that’s going to happen. I just don’t see it.

All during the month of February here at TBOH, we ran a pair of polls on the Rose issue. In results which closed as of last night, the readers spoke loud and clear. Regarding the ban itself, 71% said it should be completely lifted, another 23% said it should be lifted but continue to restrict him from any team management, and only 6% wanted to keep the ban in place.

Rose is suspended for betting on baseball as manager of the Cincinnati Reds

. (AP Photo/David Fields)

The 2nd question we asked our readers was, if that ban were indeed lifted, should Rose then be voted into the Baseball Hall of Fame? The results were even more overwhelming: 97% of the voters were in the affirmative, supporting that he is an obvious Hall of Famer. What the 3% who voted against installing him, even with a ban lifted, are thinking is hard to say.

Commissioner Rob Manfred should look at Rose’s attributes as a player, and then consider: isn’t he as deserving of forgiveness, after a quarter-century paying a very public penance, as have been Willie Mays, Mickey Mantle, Cal Ripken Jr., Alex Rodriguez, Ty Cobb, and even owner George Steinbrenner? Show your character Mr. Manfred, and reinstate the epitome of hustle, giving the Hall voters a chance to put #14 in before he reaches age 75.