Pete Rose played Major League baseball in the National League for twenty-four seasons. He played in the World Series six times and was named the Most Valuable Player of the 1975 World Series. He was the league’s Rookie of the Year in 1963, won the league batting title three times, in 1968, 1969 and 1973 and was Most Valuable Player in the league in 1973. He was named to the All Star team 17 times.
He had a total of 4,256 hits, more than any player in the history of the game and played in more games, 3,562, had more plate appearances 15,890, and more at bats, 14,053, than anyone who ever played the game.
He got the nickname Charlie Hustle because he played the game harder than probably anyone else ever played. Pete Rose played the game as if winning that game was the most important thing in the world.
He was banned from baseball for life for betting on games and new Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred Monday upheld that ban, effectively eliminating any chance Rose might ever have for reinstatement. In announcing his decision, Manfred pointed out that Rose was still gambling on horse races, sporting events and of course, major league baseball. He pointed out that Rose ‘ has not presented credible evidence of a reconfigured life’ and that he ‘continues to bet on baseball legally’. He said that it would create an unacceptable risk to let him back into the game.
Pete Rose did violate baseball’s rules by betting on baseball while in the game and deserved to be punished for doing so. The punishment was imposed and accepted by Rose in 1989, twenty-six years ago. He is now 74 years old and has lived with the punishment for 26 years.
For a sport that now supports and profits from legalized betting on baseball in the form of fantasy baseball games and allows players that have been proven to have used illegal drugs while playing the game to continue to play and coach to continue this ban on Pete Rose is hypocritical. To cite his current legal activities as evidence against him and to call him an unacceptable risk is laughable.
This decision neither enhances the image of baseball nor protects baseball from any future danger from Pete Rose or anyone else. Continuing his ban will not provide any greater deterrent to others that might bet on the game than the 26 years he has already served does.
After 26 years, what would be the harm in reinstating his performance as a player and allowing him to take his rightful place in the Hall of Fame as one of the greatest players ever to play the game? At 74, there is no need to reinstate him as a player, coach or in any other active position but his performance as a player should be recognized.