Rose belongs in Cooperstown

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, January 7, 2004

I’ve never bet on baseball, but I did bet that Pete Rose did his share of it as a manager in Major League Baseball. And apparently that would have been a good bet had there actually been money involved.

For me, growing up during the 1970s and being a baseball fan meant liking the Cincinnati Reds.

You have to understand that during my impressionable years as a teenager, the Reds, known then as the Big Red Machine, were riding on top of the world. They were pennant winners four times from 1970 to 1976.

My heroes were Johnny Bench, Tony Perez and, well, you might figure, Pete Rose.

From the time I was 10 in 1970, I wanted to be Johnny Bench. I thought he was &uot;Mr. Baseball,&uot; and my view has changed very little over the years.

But as for the rest of the team, it was just that – the team – that made me a Reds fan. They were awesome and they were, in my opinion, the best baseball had to offer.

I’ve watched the turmoil over whether or not Pete Rose should be entered into the Hall of Fame for… well for lack of a better way of putting it, too long.

Mr. Hustle, as they called him during his last days as a Reds player, did some amazing things on the baseball field and he holds records in most games played and most at bats; Not to mention he is Major League Baseball’s all time hitting leader with 3,562 in his career.

Pete Rose made a mistake. He bet on baseball, and I can only imagine he probably made some money at doing so.

But Rose didn’t get busted for drugs, for beating up his wife or for killing someone.

During the 1990s, there was a very prominent football player who was accused of wrongdoing and most everyone felt, and probably still feels, he was guilty of murder. But O.J. Simpson is in the Football Hall of Fame.

When then MLB Commissioner Bartlett Giamatti made the decision to banish Pete Rose from Major League Baseball forever, it was a cold day in the history of the sport.

Maybe there’s much more to the accusations and all that went on with the allegations of Rose’s betting habits, but we may never know the entire story.

What we do know though is that Pete Rose is a baseball legend and Giamatti is dead. Now, Rose has come out with these confessions of guilt by releasing a book, but refuses to say he is sorry.

I don’t buy the confessions. Not to say they are not true, but the timing is too obvious. He has only a couple of years eligibility to get into the Hall of Fame.

The Writer’s Poll is more than likely not going to vote him in because of the book and will likely vote know just to punish him, if he is made eligible for the Hall of Fame.

However, that’s still a big &uot;if.&uot; No one knows yet if this so called confession will change anything in the mind of the current MLB Commissioner Allan Selig, but some think that it should.

Originally, Giamatti had stated he would allow Pete Rose to be eligible for the Hall of Fame if he would admit to gambling on the sport. He’s now done that, but again, Giamatti is dead.

I admit, I have not followed much of this in the papers or on television… just picked up bits and pieces here and there and if truth be known, I know little about what’s being written here.

In other words, I’m probably very wrong. However, in my opinion, Pete Rose should have been eligible for the Hall of Fame and should be in the Hall of Fame.

He’s done as much for the game of baseball as he could have ever done to tarnish it… if he did in fact tarnish it. I can’t find any records to show that.

So he bet on the game. He made a mistake and he was wrong. Press charges, take him to court let a jury decide if that’s what needs to be done legally, but for the game of baseball itself, the man set the records… period.

That’s what you get into the Hall of Fame about, not who you are personally. There are a lot worse in the Hall of Fame than Pete Rose and this ordeal has gone on way too long.

Put him in the Hall of Fame. He’s got to live with what he’s done – good or bad – the rest of his life. Don’t take away the facts that deserve to be on the walls of Cooperstown.