Sunday, April 10, 2011

Should Pete Rose be Eligible for the Hall of Fame?

With Pete Rose turning 70 this week, John Eradi of the Cincinnati Enquirer interviews several persons, including George Will, James Reston, Jr., and me, about whether Rose's lifetime ban should be lifted, which would make him eligible to be voted into the Hall of Fame. I'm generally of the view that he should be made eligible for a vote -- let the hall of fame voters have the choice -- and then he would almost certainly be rejected. I don't, however, see Baseball doing anything here -- Rose's book, My Prison without Bars, was probably the last straw.

Here is an excerpt:

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Here are some of the comments of the three national commentators:

Law professor Michael McCann, who is sports law institute director at Vermont Law School, columnist at Sports Illustrated and co-founder of Harvard Law School's "Project on Law and Mind Sciences," believes that Hall of Fame voters should have a chance to consider Rose on their ballots.

He said an exception could be carved out for Rose to be removed from the permamently ineligible list, because it was Baseball -- not some court order or decision -- that placed him on the list to begin with. If Baseball approached it in a deliberate way, and was mindful of all parties' due process in the matter, the exception could be made.

But McCann doesn't think Rose will make it.

"The (2004) book ('My Prison Without Bars,' in which Rose admitted he bet on baseball), "may have cost him that shot," McCann said. "He did himself a disservice. ... Like all things in sports and in life, it's the coverup that really upsets people."

National editorial-page columnist George Will: "Gambling is the scarlet sin in baseball, (going back to 1919). ... Forgiveness is a virtue, but there's a difference between people forgiving him in their hearts and Baseball forgiving him (for the purpose of clearing his way to the Hall of Fame). Clearly, Baseball is in a pickle. The all-time home run leader (Barry Bonds) and one of the greatest pitchers ever (Roger Clemens) and the all-time hit leader (Rose) are not going to make it. It is a blow to the Hall of Fame ... To get Rose in (posthumously), you'd have to pair him with Shoelesss Joe, and even then it would take a Solomonic commissioner (to explain it)."

Historian James Reston Jr., author of "Collision at Home Plate: The Lives of Pete Rose and Bart Giamatti."

"I think Rose dishonored the game and himself. I don't think he should be in (the Hall of Fame Gallery, where the plaques are displayed), but I think Cooperstown is one of the most important museums in America, and that the whole Pete Rose thing of performance on the field and the scandal ... should be prominently displayed. It's a great way to (give exposure) to why betting on baseball is such a cardinal sin."

Reston said he agreed with the original drafting and enforcing of baseball's rule on betting that there is no distinction to be drawn between betting on ones team or against it.

"The central point is that when I buy a ticket am I seeing an authentic display of skill?," he said. "There can't be any hidden factors, whether it's (steroids) or somebody with a bet on the outcome."

He had harsh words for Baseball's higher-ups and the Hall of Fame, however, for treating Rose as a "persona non grata."

One can give Rose the full treatment in Cooperstown without having to issue a formal forgiveness for purposes of giving him a plaque, Reston said.

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To read the rest, click here.