Greensburg Daily News, Greensburg, IN

Z_CNHI News Service

June 19, 2014

Baseball should reinstate Pete Rose

It would be simple to study Pete Rose’s record as a player with the Cincinnati Reds and Philadelphia Phillies and determine whether he should be elected to baseball’s Hall of Fame. Certainly. Absolutely. Without a doubt.

But because of Rose’s foolish choice to bet heavily on sports, especially baseball, there's never been a vote about his worthiness to be inducted in the game’s shrine in Cooperstown, N.Y. After a long investigation conducted by Major League Baseball, Rose was banned from the game.

There was every reason to agree with Commissioner Bart Giamatti’s decision in 1989 to end Rose’s association with baseball. It meant little that Rose held the record for career hits. He knowingly broke one of baseball’s sacred rules, and there was a steep price to pay.

Rose, who once accepted the cheers and accolades of a champion, faced a life of shame and ridicule.

Many years have passed, and the once-great player has survived by signing autographs along the Las Vegas strip and about anywhere else someone will give him an appearance fee. It’s as if he’s been imprisoned but not locked behind bars.

This summer marks the 25th anniversary of Giamatti’s ruling and certainly will draw a public review of Rose’s actions and the appropriateness of his lifetime ban. In fact, it’s already begun.

This week Rose served a day as manager of the Bridgeport, Conn., Bluefish, an independent league team, and again expressed hope that one day his lifetime ban will be lifted. He sounded contrite in an interview with ESPN’s Darren Rovell: “I’ve waited 25 years but I’ve done so because I was the one who screwed up. And if I were given a second chance, I would be the happiest guy in the world.”

The question to consider, as in most matters where rules were broken and punishment assigned, is whether Rose has repaid his debt to his profession and a loving fan base? Has the fallen been punished enough? Is he truly repentant?

Over the years I’ve had little mercy for Rose. He was a person with great skill but little integrity.

Yet, at times it was difficult to reconcile my feelings for him as one of the greatest players of all time – especially as an athlete who led his hometown team to championships – with that of a ballplayer whose achievements were masked by mistrust and suspicion.

I’ve now changed my mind. The time has come for Rose to be admitted to the Hall of Fame. He has lived with shame for long enough.

There are those who think the cardinal sin he committed can never be erased or repaid. That’s their opinion.

Given the problems that baseball and all professional have faced over the years - especially the carefree use of drugs - Rose’s ban is worthy of a second look.

Public opinion polls continue to show strong support for acknowledging Rose’s achievements. It would also seem appropriate that any plaque for him note his long banishment from the game. It’s all part of his story.

How this could happen and by whom is unclear. If Giamatti banned him, it would seem right that Bud Selig, the outgoing commissioner, reinstate him before leaving office at the end of the year. It might be similar to a president pardoning someone as he leaves the White House.

Rose has been a conflicting figure for as long as he’s been around the game. He’s not alone. Baseball has long had those who tarnished the game with their misdeeds - the Chicago "Black Sox" who threw the 1919 World Series;  Detroit’s Denny McLain, who was as accomplished at embezzlement as he was pitching; and all those players associated with steroids and performance enhancing drugs.

There’s no question about Rose’s guilt. There should also be no doubt that he’s paid a high price for his crime.

Tom Lindley is a CNHI sports columnist. Reach him at tlindley@cnhi.com.

Tom Lindley is a CNHI sports columnist. Reach him at tlindley@cnhi.com.

1
Text Only
Z_CNHI News Service
  • sleepchart.jpg America’s sleep-deprived cities

    Americans might run on sleep, but those living in the country's largest cities don't appear to run on much.

    August 20, 2014 1 Photo

  • Who should pay for your kids ACT?

    Thirteen states paid for 11th-grade students in all public high schools to take the ACT college admission test this year, with several more planning to join them in 2015.

    August 20, 2014

  • Pets.jpg Why do people look like their pets?

    As much as we might quibble over the virtues and vices of Canis domesticus, however, and over whether human nature is any better or worse than dog nature, even dog fanciers don't usually want to look like a dog.

    August 20, 2014 1 Photo

  • Lindley, Tom.jpg Another stumble begs questions about Notre Dame

    Notre Dame's vaunted reputation for formidable athletics and serious academics is again sullied by a cheating scandal. Maybe the high standards of the Fighting Irish are just too good to be true.

    August 19, 2014 1 Photo

  • Ice bucket challenge trending up

    Internet trends are a dime a dozen these days. Everything from Tebowing to planking to the cinnamon challenge can cause a wave of social media activity that can last for weeks before fizzling out.

    August 19, 2014

  • Five myths about presidential vacations

    In the nuclear age, presidents may have only minutes to make a decision that could affect the entire world. They don't so much leave the White House as they take a miniature version of it with them wherever they go.

    August 15, 2014

  • taylor.armerding.jpg Debate filled with 'hate' gives Hamas a pass

    Political invective is dialed to the max, and everyone who disagrees is a "hater." But the hate police, who are so eager to cast labels, are ignoring the real wells of contempt in the Middle East.

    August 15, 2014 1 Photo

  • Lindley, Tom.jpg OU player's suspension shows pitfalls of addressing sexual assault on campus

    The University of Oklahoma's leading tackler is suspended for the season - or maybe not. Frank Shannon is still practicing with the Sooners amid a court battle over whether OU can discipline him after a sexual assault investigation. The tough issue of addressing assault on campus isn't just OU's problem.

    August 15, 2014 1 Photo

  • Can 6 seconds launch a career? A generation of Vine stars sure hopes so.

    A year ago, Shawn Mendes filmed himself singing a tentative acoustic cover of the Justin Bieber song "As Long as You Love Me" and put the results on Vine. He wasn't expecting much response. "I didn't really want anything to happen; I just kind of wanted to see what people would think," says Mendes, 16. "I posted that first Vine and woke up the next morning with 10,000 followers. That was pretty cool."

    August 14, 2014

  • Freshman.jpg 8 crucial tips for college freshmen

    With school starting back up around the country, no one has a bigger deer-in-the-headlights look than college freshmen.

    August 14, 2014 1 Photo