The following column appeared in the March 15, 2015 edition of the Biddeford Journal Tribune. Today, it was announced that Pete Rose has petitioned the New Commissioner for reinstatement in baseball.
Ex-Commissioner Fay Vincent is quoted as saying that the issue is not Pete Rose, it …’ has always been the deterrent in baseball against gambling and is always perfectly successful.’ Sure Commissioner, just like your punishments against steroid and PED use have always been successful. Is there anyone in the world except Fay Vincent that believes baseball players don’t bet on games?
Pete Rose should be reinstated at least as far as his playing career is concerned. Anyway, here’s the column.
On the night of October 16, 1983, I was driving from my home in Connecticut to Quantico, Virginia, where I was about to begin my third week of three months at the Federal Bureau Of Investigation’s National Academy. In the car, on the way, we had listened to the end of Game 5 of the World Series and had heard the Baltimore Orioles beat the Philadelphia Phillies 5-0 to take the series and become World Champs 4 games to 1.
As my classmate, Larry Gwaltney and I, passed into and drove through Maryland on Interstate 95, every overpass was filled with people holding banners and signs and waiting for their heroes, the Baltimore Orioles, to pass through on their way back to Baltimore from Philadelphia. This was one of those few World Series of the modern era where the two cities involved were so close together the trip was an easy bus ride.
I remember thinking that the Oriole fan base must be very loyal to turn out like that so the team could get a quick glimpse of them as they passed by at 65 miles an hour. Since then, I have found that the Oriole fans are among the most rabid and loyal in all of baseball.
The other day, I happened to turn the television on just in time to catch the last few innings of a baseball classic on one of the sports channel. They were showing the same Game 5 of the 1983 World Series between the Baltimore Orioles and Philadelphia Phillies.
The Orioles had finished the season with a 98-64 record and had beaten the Chicago White Sox three games to one in the Playoffs. There were only two divisions in each league then. The Phillies had finished 90-72 and had beaten the LosAngeles Dodgers three games to one to make the series.
In the fifth game being shown on television, the Orioles were up 3 games to 1 and the game was being played in Philadelphia at the old Veteran’s Field with 67,064 fans present. Scott McGregor was pitching for the Orioles and they went up 5-0 on the strength of two homers by first baseman Eddie Murray and a homer and double by catcher Rick Dempsey. McGregor went all the way, shutting out the Phillies, as the Orioles became World’s Champs.
Rick Dempsey, a 34 year old, in his 15th year in the big leagues, with his third team, won the World Series Most Valuable Player Award based on his .385 batting average with 5 hits, 4 doubles and a homer in 13 at bats. Dempsey went on to play for three other teams before coming back to Baltimore to finish his 24 year career.
Quite often, the World Series or Playoff MVP is an unknown or unlikely player. In Dempsey’s case, his home run was the only one he would ever hit in 25 post season games, he was a career .233 hitter with just 96 homers in 5,407 at bats. Like a lot of veterans, over his career, he played better in the post season, averaging .303.
The Orioles pitching staff held the Phils to just nine runs in five games despite the fact that the Phils had a power house lineup. Joe Morgan, the former Cincinnati Reds second baseman and future Hall of Famer led off. Followed by all time hit leader Pete Rose who played first base or right field depending on the pitching with the great third baseman and another Hall of Famer Mike Schmidt batting third. Schmidt was held to one hit in 20 at bats by the Oriole pitchers. The Phils also had future Hall of Fame pitcher Steve
Carlton who lost Game 3 by a 3-2 score.
Jim Palmer, the great Orioles pitcher, and another Hall of Famer, who was in the twilight of his career, won Game 3 in relief.
Pete Rose, who was 42 years old and in his 21st year in the major leagues, the first 16 with the Reds, would play for three years after this season. He was Rookie of the year in 1963, Most Valuable Player in the National League in 1973, MVP in the World Series in 1975, won three batting titles and was named to 17 All Star Teams. At 42, he was still a force on the field and went 5-16 for a .303 average in the series.
As every one knows, he had more hits in his career than any player in history, 4,256, and was banned from baseball and the Hall of Fame for betting on his own team as a Manager. Rose has been allowed to participate in some ceremonial events since his original banning from baseball but the ban on the Hall of Fame still stands.
Whether Rose bet on baseball as a Manager or not does not change the fact that he produced more base hits than any other player in history and it is time baseball rescinded the ban on him being in the Hall of Fame. As a player, Pete exemplified the way the game should be played, 100% all the time. Hopefully, the new Commissioner will see fit in the near future to allow him to be placed on some ballot for the Hall. Of course, the way the Baseball Writers of America vote, making their own rules as they go along, that would not guarantee admission.
Pete Rose, the ballplayer, Charlie Hustle, belongs in the Hall of Fame. It’s time Major League Baseball woke up and put him there.