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On April 8, 1963, a career began in Major League Baseball that would stretch over the next 23 years.
Many fans of the game will remember the era between April 1963 and August 1986 for many different reasons mainly because of some of the most memorable players of all time. Players that played during this era included Hank Aaron, Nolan Ryan, Carlton Fisk, Willie Mays, and Pete Rose. Each of these players were part of historical events in baseball, but I am going to focus on Pete Rose.
Pete Rose was referred to by many as “Charlie Hustle” for his actions on the field. When Rose drew a base on balls, he never just strolled down to first base. He ran, full speed to the bag. During Rose’s illustrious career he played at least six different positions, appeared in 3,531 games, compiled a .987 fielding percentage, and collected the most hits of anyone to ever play major league baseball with 4,256. With stats like these you would think that Rose is a sure fire Hall of Famer, right?
As you know, Rose was linked to betting on Cincinnati Reds baseball games while he was the team’s manager. Through a variety of reports and investigations it was found that Rose reportedly bet on 52 Reds games in 1987 with each game carrying a minimum wager of $10,000.
The punishment from Major League Baseball was going to be severe, so Rose and his attorney agreed to a compromise with the league. On Aug. 24, 1989, Rose agreed to sign a voluntary lifetime ban from baseball. The ban included three provisions. Major League Baseball would not pursue their investigation any further, Rose was neither denying nor admitting betting on games, and that Rose could apply for reinstatement after one year were the three provisions set in the ban. In February of 1991, the board of directors for Major League Baseball’s Hall of Fame decided to bar Rose’s name from the Hall of Fame ballot, denying the all-time hit king a chance at ever reaching the ultimate prize of a baseball player.
Rose has applied for reinstatement twice, and both times the commissioner of baseball has taken no action. Now Rose was recently quoted as saying he would like to manage in the big leagues again someday. It is my personal opinion that Rose should be allowed to manage again, but many reports state that no team will ever give him that chance. I am not taking up for Rose, who admitted to betting on games in 2004 in his book, My Prison Without Bars, but Major League Baseball should take a closer look at Rose’s overall career.
There have been athletes since Rose who have been given second chances and returned to the game that they love. One of the most recent examples is Michael Vick. Vick pleaded guilty to federal charges stemming from a dog fighting ring that included gambling on the events. The National Football League commissioner handed down a suspension to Vick, and Vick even spent some time in a federal prison. However, after completing his incarceration, Vick was allowed to play football again. I believe that Rose should have the same opportunity that Vick had and be allowed to manage in the Major Leagues.
Rose has a lot to offer young players in the big leagues, and with 4,256 hits I’d say he knows a thing or two about hitting. Deep down I feel that many managers would like to have Rose on their staff as a hitting coach, but don’t want the public scrutiny of having Rose affiliated with their team. For many years, Rose denied any wrongdoing, but now has admitted to it, apologized, and moved on. I believe that it is time for baseball to do the same. However, the years of denial by Rose may be the main cause of the continuing ban.
My belief is that Rose was made an example of by Major League Baseball. They apparently wanted to send a very strong message that this type of behavior will not be allowed in any fashion. Message received. It has been more than 20 years since the ban was imposed and Rose should be allowed to return to the game he loves.
Rose, who recently turned 70 years old, says that he has given up on ever being enshrined in Cooperstown in the Baseball Hall of Fame, but clings to hope that someday he will be able to manage again. Rose also stated that he has taken responsibility for his own life and that he screwed up and wishes he could change what he did.
“It’s like a singer getting caught running a red light, and not being allowed to sing again; it just doesn’t make sense,” Rose said. “I’m a baseball player. I can go on every show and say I’m sorry, and people don’t want to hear it. That’s not fair.”
I agree with Rose along with Major League Baseball. Rose should not have bet on the games and baseball had every right to punish him. But, the time has come for Rose to be reinstated to the game he loves. Someday in the future Rose will be reinstated. I just hope that it is not after Rose has passed away, and that he gets a second chance to participate in the game, a chance that he truly deserves.