While it was good to see and hear the raucous fans at Great American Ballpark welcome Pete Rose as he walked onto a Major League venue for the first time in many years, he should never be seen again on a Major League diamond.
He gambled on baseball games he was either playing in or as a manager. In all of sports, that is a cardinal sin and for that he should be “banned from baseball”.
Having said that, my previous post holds true. He belongs in the Baseball Hall of Fame. Because no matter what he still has the most hits of anyone who has played the game. And that has nothing to do with his character. It only has to do with a man hitting a baseball with a bat.
Putting Pete Rose in the Hall of Fame where he belongs is simply a recognition of what he did on the playing field, the numbers he put up, and the relentless zeal with which he played the game. The man has the most hits ever over a career for God’s sake! And besides, some of the greatest players in the game could also be a jerk at times by demonstrating questionable character.
Ted Williams who is often credited with being the the best pure hitter to ever play the game once was fined $5000 (a princely sum in 1956) for – get this – for spitting on fans during a game in his own ballpark. He was also known as a loner and egomaniac who was certainly not the go-to guy in the clubhouse. Ted Williams is in the Baseball Hail of Fame.
Joe DiMaggio is also in the Hall of Fame. He’s also one of the surliest men to ever don a Yankees uniform. His own teammates viewed him as “unapproachable”. But he did hit in 56 straight games so he is forgiven and everyone moves on. You can read more on his character in Richard Ben Cramer’s definitive biography Joe DiMaggio: The Hero’s Life.
And then of course there’s Ty Cobb who is said to be one of the meanest – most vindictive – players to ever have put on a pair of spikes. Those spikes high sliding into second – be damned if you’re in my way. He too is in the Hall of Fame.
For every Cal Ripken with no visible character flaws in the Hall, there’s a Joe DiMaggio with a tainted image. And for every Derek Jeter (a sure first ballot inductee), there’s a Ted Williams who never really apologized for his spitting episode. The Hall of Fame was built to house and honor the best who ever played the game. No one would ever suggest Pete Rose as a candidate for Sainthood. He doesn’t have to be a Saint……….all he has to be is one of the greatest to have ever played the game. At least, give him that.
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