Reconsidering the case of Charlie Hustle?

If the news out of Cooperstown this weekend is accurate, then it looks like Bud Selig is considering a reinstatement to the game for the notorious Pete Rose.

MLB’s all-time hits leader, nicknamed “Charlie Hustle” for his all-out style of play, was banned from the game “permanently” by then-commissioner Bart Giamatti 20 years ago for gambling on baseball while managing the Cincinnati Reds.

The relevance of the discussion this weekend was the occasion (Hall of Fame induction for Rickey Henderson and Jim Rice, among others) and the legendary players campaigning Commissioner Selig for Rose’s reinstatement – a list that includes heavy hitters like Hank Aaron, Joe Morgan, Frank Robinson, & Reggie Jackson.

Rose is ineligible to have his candidacy considered to join the ranks of the all-time greats with a bust in Cooperstown until his lifetime suspension from the game is overturned.

In the meantime, he resorts to taking part in (very) unofficial activites every summer in Cooperstown during induction weekend. He is, after all, “in the autograph business” and the center of the baseball world resides in upstate New York every year at this time. Where else would he be?

Frankly, I think a review of this suspension is way overdue. Sure, the guy should be nowhere near a major league baseball dugout for the rest of his days, but the man has paid a heavy price for his sins. Honoring him for his exploits during his playing days (which, except for the post-playing days gambling controversy would make him a shoo-in for the Hall of Fame) seems like the right thing to do.

 

Pete Rose, in better days

Pete Rose, in better days

A reinstatement does not actually even ensure induction to the Hall of Fame, of course. There are still committees involved – in this case, it looks like it would be the work of the Veterans Committee to consider his candidacy. If and when Rose becomes eligible, the Veterans Committee will certainly be at the center of a firestorm from those on either side of the fence.

And, while I believe that it’s a no-brainer to honor Rose for his playing days, I also believe that his bust should very clearly provide details of the controversies that have followed Rose since then.  He did disgrace the game and it deserves to be noted – both as a reminder of his misdeeds as well as deterrent for any others to follow.

But quite simply, the timing is right to make this right. The next decade will bring Hall of Fame eligibility to countless ballplayers who have beefed up their numbers during major league baseball’s infamous “steroid era”. And some of these are certain to get in as tolerance prevails on a topic with no easy answers.

But to see guys like Bonds, Clemens, and A-Rod inducted before someone like Pete Rose, who personified an era of baseball for over two decades during his playing days, would be shameful.  Rose had (has?) a gambling problem, but he earned his epic career numbers the right way.

Bud, do the right thing and make this happen. And sooner than later – I think Rose will accept whatever restrictions and qualifications are placed upon him at this point. But he belongs in the Hall of Fame.

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~ by acm213 on July 27, 2009.

One Response to “Reconsidering the case of Charlie Hustle?”

  1. I believe Pete Rose should be reinstated and voted into the Hall of Fame. Whether that happens, of course, is up to Bud Selig and the HOF writers who do the actual election.

    However, his plaque, if elected, MUST read, “Pete Rose is being honored for his achievements on the field. Mr. Rose was suspended for X years for charges of gambling on outcomes of games” If that is engraved on the plaque, I’m OK with his induction at the discretion of Selig and the writers.

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