The online search engine Yahoo
recently ran a feature on former major league baseball player Pete Rose in which he discussed the sale of baseballs inscribed with his autograph and a written apology for betting on baseball games.
The feature got me thinking about the life and career of Rose, a tremendously gifted baseball player who, except for a lifetime ban from baseball for violating the league’s misconduct rules, would be guaranteed a place among baseball’s elite in Cooperstown.
Pete Rose, better known as “Charlie Hustle” for his seemingly endless enthusiasm, began his major league career with the Cincinnati Reds in April, 1963, when he was only 22 years old. When he retired as a player in 1986, after 24 seasons, he left behind a list of accomplishments that places him in the company of some of the very best to ever play the game.
According to Baseball-Reference.com, Rose holds the records for most games played (3,562), most hits (4,256), most singles (3,215), and most at-bats (14,053). He is second all-time in doubles and fourth all-time in runs scored.
Rose had a lifetime batting average of .303 and is the only player to play 500 games at five different positions. He was named Rookie of the Year in 1963 and Most Valuable Player in 1973. Rose received MVP votes in 14 other years during his career and was named Most Valuable Player of the World Series in 1975.
During his career, Rose played in seven League Championship Series and six World Series. He won Golden Glove awards in 1969 and 1970 and was named an All-Star in 16 of his 24 years. He led the league in hits seven times and was in the top ten in batting average in thirteen different years. In 1978, he hit safely in 44 straight games, the most by National League player during the 20th century. For his performance during the 1970s, The Sporting News named Pete Rose its Player of the Decade.
In 1989, under suspicion for betting on baseball games, Rose filed suit against Major League Baseball claiming the allegations were untrue. As details about his gambling began to emerge, Rose agreed to drop his suit and accept a lifetime suspension from MLB Commissioner Bart Giamatti.
That suspension makes Pete Rose ineligible for consideration for the baseball hall of fame. In order to take his rightful place among the legends of the sport, Rose must apply to the MLB Commissioner for reinstatement. If his application is approved and he is reinstated, then he must receive votes on 75 percent of all ballots cast in any given year.
Based on his extraordinary playing career, I firmly believe Pete Rose would be voted into the baseball hall of fame the first time he was eligible. Pete Rose made a mistake. We all do. To disregard one of the most successful baseball careers in the history of the game with a zero mistake policy does a disservice to Rose, the teams he played for, the fans who watched him play, and the sport of baseball. Pete Rose’s suspension should be lifted for him, and for baseball.