Vaught's Views: Rose deserves to be in Hall of Fame

January 08, 2004|LARRY VAUGHT

Compassion and forgiveness are apparently words no one is supposed to use when it comes to Pete Rose.

Apparently almost everyone else who has ever put on a baseball uniform and made a mistake deserves a second chance. Or a third chance. Or a fourth chance.

But not Rose.

It was no great revelation this week when baseball's all-time hits leader finally admitted that he did bet on baseball while he was the manager of the Cincinnati Reds.

He was kicked out of baseball 14 years ago when baseball's investigation concluded that he had bet on games and was given a lifetime ban for his wrongdoing.


Now that he has admitted he bet on baseball - which is what Rose was told for years that he had to do in order to be reinstated and become eligible to go into the Hall of Fame - he's been crucified again from coast to coast.

He was chastised for the timing of the release of his new autobiography - "My Prison Without Bar" - because it took away from the Hall of Fame thunder from new inductees Paul Molitor and Dennis Eckersley Tuesday.

He was even blamed for overshadowing the death of former teammate Tug McGraw with his book release and TV interview.

Not only was his timing questioned, so was his sincerity. Apparently admitting that he did lie for all these years was not enough. He was supposed to have been even more remorseful.

Perhaps a tearful admission where he pleaded for forgiveness is what his critics want, but those who ever watched Rose play one inning know that isn't Rose.

He didn't get the nickname "Charlie Hustle" because of his gambling addiction. He got that because of the passion he played with and how he went all out every inning of every game during his career, something few players now even think about doing.

The way he played the game has been forgotten

But the way he played the game has been forgotten. All some can focus on is that he bet on baseball, ruined the game's integrity and does not deserve to be associated with baseball or in the Hall of Fame.

Rose must be reinstated by December 2005 to appear on the Hall of Fame ballot. In the 13 seasons he has been ineligible because of the ban, he has been written in on 230 of 6,171 ballots (3.7 percent).

Even now many writers who vote on the Hall of Fame selections are saying they still wouldn't vote for Rose because of what he did.

Apparently some still believe that baseball is played by a group of choir boys who never do anything wrong.

Yet wasn't it only a few months ago that Sammy Sosa got caught using a corked bat? Of course, he admitted it was a mistake and that was only his "batting practice" bat and that he never meant to use it in a game. He got suspended seven games - but still received his salary - and then was right back hitting home runs for the Chicago Cubs.

What about pitcher David Wells? In his book, he admitted he was drunk when he pitched a no-hitter for the Yankees. But he was right back on the mound this year with no questions asked.

Pitcher Steve Howe was suspended six times for substance abuse, but kept coming back. Finally after his seventh offense, he was suspended for life. Of course, that ban was later overturned.

What about Yankees owner George Steinbrenner? He got a lifetime ban in 1990 for paying someone to investigate Dave Winfield - his own player. That lifetime ban lasted two years.

Rose should not have bet on baseball while he was managing the Reds. It was wrong and he deserved to be punished.

He probably should not even be allowed to manage again or be on the field in any capacity.

But why continue to deny him the place he earned as a player in the Hall of Fame? It's just not logical to say betting on games compromised the integrity of a game but that corking a bat, pitching drunk or taking drugs didn't. Get real.

Enough is enough. Give Rose the player the credit he deserves and make him eligible for the Hall of Fame.

If not, then take the same holier-than-thou approach with those who also compromise baseball's so-called integrity with corked bats, drinking and drugs.

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