The Case for Pete Rose
How long can baseball hold a grudge? Pete Rose asks himself this question every day. Everyone makes mistakes, but Pete Rose’s mistake seems much more severe than others. Rose bet on sports, including baseball, during his playing and managing career. There is no evidence that he ever bet against his team, however, and most people believe that much of the gambling was during his managing days, long after his records were set.
What were his records? Rose holds the record for hits, being one of two people to have more than 4,000, the other being the legendary Ty Cobb. He had one thousand more hits than it usually take to get into the Hall of Fame, and everyone with 3,000 hits was inducted, with a few exceptions (Rafael Palmiero due to steroid use; Derek Jeter is still playing; Craig Biggio will be eligible next year). He had the nickname “Charlie Hustle,” an affectionate nickname given because he always ran his hardest and never gave up on even the most hopeless of situations. He holds the record for playing in the most wins for his team. He played in 500 more games than Cal Ripken Jr. did. And yet, he remains in baseball exile. Why?
Pete Rose had a gambling problem. It is as simple as that. He has admitted to gambling on baseball as well as other sports. Most of this happened during his late playing and managing years, long after his prime. He has always stood by the fact that he never bet against his own team, which would jeopardize the integrity of the game. In fact, most of his bets probably increased the integrity of game, giving him more on the line and a bigger reason to win. Furthermore, Pete Rose the manager was not nearly as legendary as Pete Rose the player. So inducting Pete Rose the player who always ran his hardest is slightly different from inducting Pete Rose the gambling manager who jeopardized the integrity of the game. Make sense? If not, here’s a look at today’s Pete Rose:
Nowadays, you can find Pete Rose sitting in a mall at a table. He is willing to take pictures, offer advice, and sign autographs for minimal cash. He signs hundreds of baseballs each day with the inscription “I’m sorry I bet on baseball.” Charlie Hustle is a man who apologizes for his dirty deeds hundreds of times each day. I continue to believe that one of these days, Major League Baseball will accept this fallen man’s heartfelt apology.