By Adam Nettleton

Many people in the baseball world come in great conflict over one issue. The question on their minds is should Pete Rose be in the hall of fame? Experts are torn on why or why not he should be inducted in the Baseball Hall of Fame for his accomplishments. For the record Pete Rose allegedly gambled on the game of baseball when he was managing the Cincinatti Reds. There are a couple of points of view whether hall of fame honors are based on merit or actions. This issue brings up many issues that will be explained in more detail as I go through the essay and my opinions.

The first question that must be answered is if being in the Hall of Fame depends on the character of the person or if you are going by their accomplishments. If you look at what he did in his career as a player, it makes him one of the best. He also gave everything he could all the time. In the middle of his career, he had the most hits ever as he surpassed the great Ty Cobb’s mark and setting the career record at 4,246 hits. His lifetime batting average was an astounding .303 and that is considered great. He reached the 200 hit plateau 10 times which by today’s standards is hard to do in a year. To think he did it 10 times make him a special baseball player. He also put so much effort into his playing he was dubbed “Charlie Hustle”; he always pushed it to the limit. He was famous for putting in the effort one time in an All-Star game, which isn’t supposed to be competitive, he was rounding third base and rookie catcher Ray Fosse was waiting for the ball. And wasn’t expecting Rose to come in hard and after that collision Fosse wasn’t the same. He played out his career but he never played as well after the collision at the plate with Rose. That was just the way Rose played baseball. If you want to compare character Rose wasn’t half as bad as some other players that have made it to the Hall of Fame. For example, Babe Ruth arguably the best player ever, would go out drinking every night and sleep with hundreds of women even though he was married. How does that keep the integrity of the game? The answer is in no way does that keep the game up to standards.

Ty Cobb is another person that could be considered the best player. However he was a racist, a murderer and was hated by everyone he met. He was a little crazy thinking his father was always watching when he played baseball and his father was dead. This was from an early childhood experience because he saw his father killed. How can you justify putting a drunk and a murderer in the Hall of Fame but not a gambler. It seems that the integrity of the game is not intact to begin with. They say that those behaviors don’t matter because it was off the field. I think on the field should be close to off the field. So this is an argument that could go on forever- character or achievements. If you look at the others who have been inducted it is obvious that it should be based on achievements.
Another aspect of the entire situation is whether he did bet on his own team or not. In a couple of reports released to the public it was not really clear that he bet on his team to lose the games. It was reported that he never bet on his team to lose. He would always bet on the Reds to win if it was true. People are torn as to whether or not Rose bet on baseball games. It was never stated in the original report, but many people do believe that he bet on games and that he shouldn’t have.

Some people think this ban was way to long for what he did and some think that they have to follow the rules. What is really interesting is that Baseball doesn’t follow the same rules as a court and our national system so it is up to the leaders of baseball. He was never arrested for the crime and never did time in prison. What is also interesting on this subject is that at the last Hall of Fame ceremonies in Cooperstown New York, broadcaster Marty Brennamen mentioned Pete Rose in his Hall of Fame speech. The next week his broadcast buddy former Hall of Fame catcher Johnny Bench, said goodbye to their radio show because Bench is strongly opposed to Rose being about to get into baseball’s heaven. So to conclude this, it is up in the air on whether he did it or not but leaning more towards he did gamble on his own team. Either way it has caused a large amount of conflict in the baseball world.

Another consideration is that gambling is a disease. This is the same as a drug habit, you can’t help what you are doing. People aren’t always banned from baseball when they have a drug addiction. Examples of this are Dwight Gooden and Steve Howe. Howe had about seven chances after being caught with drugs. Howe was kept in the game unlike Rose and it was just the one act that he committed. Rose admits to betting on other sports but never baseball. What people don’t talk about is Michael Jordan’s gambling problem. He bet large sums of money on golf matches but no one makes his gambling problem a big deal because he didn’t bet on his own game. So if Rose didn’t bet on his game then he shouldn’t be penalized.

There has been another case similar to this one in baseball history. It goes back to the White Sox team of 1919. The White Sox threw the World Series on purpose to attain money from gamblers who paid them off. Joe Jackson was one of these nine players banned from the game. He was one of the greatest hitters of all time and he is not allowed into the hall of fame because of this incident. This same argument is used to keep Rose out of the Hall of Fame. In a way it is similar because there was gambling. But first off, the 1919 White Sox had a good reason. What happened in those days is that they weren’t paid a great deal of money. Furthermore the great Charlie Comisky didn’t give players respect and was a real cheapskate. For example, the players had to wash their own uniforms. Eddie Ciccotte was a pitcher for them that year and he had won 29 games. His contract stated that he would get a bonus if he won 30, but Comisky made him sit out and Comisky didn't have to pay him. That is why the 1919 Sox threw the games. So if Rose is the same, then yes he should be kept out.

The other side of the argument is that letting Pete Rose in endangers the games integrity. It seems that this is a popular stance by most people high up in the baseball world. If you take “on the field” integrity Rose should be there where as if you look “off the field”, there would be no players in the Hall of Fame. They all did things off the field that weren’t good, but back then the media wasn’t what it is today. It is easier to follow the players and watch everything but then it was harder and no one knew too much about off the field. The activities off the field included drinking, partying, sex, killing and so on. So if you look at it like that, there shouldn’t be anyone in the Hall of Fame, which is just wrong.

If you take a look at what baseball fans think you would be surprised. From an article in “Time” magazine, there was a poll and only 40 percent of the people thought he should be suspended from baseball completely if he in fact did gamble and 30 percent thought he should be suspended for a year. And 20 percent thought that there shouldn’t be any suspension at all. So if you view things from the fans’ perspective he should be let into the Hall of Fame. However, the people in charge of baseball are saying they are doing what baseball should do. On the other hand, the fans run baseball and there aren’t any lays to follow. Obviously then, the “higher ups” are not following what the people think. So if you go by that, Rose should be in the Hall of Fame.

In my personal opinion the people in baseball don’t have enough evidence to make a qualified judgment and I don’t think that you should have to answer for things you do outside of the game. Just like all of the drug addicts and all of the players who have a couple of women on the side who are in the Hall of Fame. They should let people into the Hall of Fame based on the career of the individual and how they played the game of baseball. He wasn’t the best player to play but he put in every effort that was physically or mentally possible. And that alone makes him a worthy candidate to be among baseball’s greatest players. Just because of some actions that he might have done after his playing career shouldn’t limit him from a place where he belongs. Pete Rose always applies for reinstatement; every single year he goes back to the commissioner. Who knows what will happen? Shoeless Joe Jackson’s case was nearly 80 years ago and he is still not allowed in the Baseball Hall of Fame. So maybe someday after Pete Rose is gone, he will be allowed into the hallowed hall of heroes.


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