25 years ago, Pete Rose was banned from all baseball activities by the MLB, and the sure-fire first-ballot Hall of Famer was sent to the permanently ineligible list, never to officially be enshrined in Cooperstown. His crime? Betting on Cincinnati Reds games while managing the Reds, a clear violation of the rules of the MLB, Recently, due largely in part to the 25th anniversary of his ban, many have spoken out claiming Rose’s suspension is unfair. As you can probably tell from the title of this article, I’m one of them. Pete Rose himself has applied for reinstatement several times and has always been rejected. Here’s why Pete Rose should definitely be a Hall of Famer.
First of all, for those who don’t know who Pete Rose is, the extremely condensed version is Pete “Charlie Hustle” Rose played from 1963-1986 for the Reds, Phillies, and Expos. He was an extremely versatile player who was a switch hitter and could play most positions on defense. He is most known for being the MLB’s all-time hits leader with 4,256.
I feel like the argument for Rose’s inclusion in the Hall of Fame has two major parts: the first is by showing just how impressive Rose’s career was, and the other is defending his sports gambling. First off, let’s take a look at just a few of Charlie Hustle’s career achievements, because believe me when I say there are many.
First off, he played for 24 seasons, which is absolutely incredible. To be one of the best in the world in anything for that long is ridiculous. Rose has played in more MLB games (3,562) than anyone ever has, and maybe ever will.
In addition, he sustained his performance throughout his career, making 17 all-star game appearances, including one when he was 45 years old, which is nearly impossible. However, the craziest part of Rose’s all-star game record is that he did it at five separate positions! This man could play anywhere on the field and be the best of the best.
Over his career Rose won three World Series rings and one World Series MVP, which fulfills the “they’re great and all but did they ever win” part of the checklist, which separates the great from the greatest in the eyes of many (not me but that’s besides the point).
He was also the National League Rookie of the Year in 1963, MVP in 1973, won three batting titles, and had two Golden Glove winning seasons. Rose had a career .303 batting average, something most players would be thrilled to achieve for just one season. To top it off, the Reds organization had so much faith in Rose that he was even a player manager for his last three seasons, something only a select few players in all of sports can say they have done.
Typically someone who has received any of the honors I have listed is considered to be one of the best players in the game, but Rose was just at another level throughout his career. Based on his career alone, Pete Rose’s spot in Cooperstown is unquestionable. However, he did explicitly break an MLB rule. So, does the punishment fit the crime?
Again, you should be able to figure out that I don’t think it does. First off, I don’t believe sports betting should be illegal in the first place. In fact, my research paper for English last year, our biggest project of the year, and the subsequent speech based on my research, were on the legalization of sports betting, and an edited version of that paper may find its way on the blog at some point. So clearly I’m siding with Pete Rose. But why?
Well, primarily my thought is simply that his career outweighs his betting. But additionally, let’s take a look specifically on the bets he made. He bet on every game he managed, and betted on his team, the Reds, every time. He had so much faith in his team that he bet money on them. If I’m a player on the Reds, that motivates me and shows that my coach really believes in what we’re doing.
I also find it important that he bet on every game, not only when his team played one of the cellar dwellers of the MLB or when his ace pitcher was on the mound. There was no discrimination of any kind in his bets.
Also, the main reason the MLB has this rule in the first place is to prevent a repeat of the disastrous 1919 World Series game fixing scandal, where eight members of the White Sox (dubbed the Black Sox due to their criminal acts) intentionally threw the World Series for money from gamblers. Coincidentally, the series was played against the Reds.
The main point to be taken here is that Rose didn’t throw any games, therefore not harming the integrity of the game in any way, despite what the MLB says.
Additionally, I’d like to take one of my main points supporting sports betting, one that recently NBA Commissioner Adam Silver and Mark Cuban have acknowledged. Major sports leagues seem to have no issues whatsoever with fantasy sports, played by millions around the world (myself included). In many of these leagues there is a money prize the winner receives, therefore making it betting on sports. It is well known that many professional athletes play fantasy sports, even those involving the leagues they play in. So, what’s stopping Peyton Manning from throwing to the receivers on his fantasy team, or Rob Gronkowski from “accidentally” dropping a pass if his fantasy opponent has him and the Patriots are well ahead? Sports leagues are hypocritical allowing fantasy sports and not sports betting.
Now I’d like to stop what nearly turned into a slightly off-topic rant on pro-sports betting, and end my argument here. In conclusion, I believe for a number of reasons, involving both Pete Rose’s playing career and the nature of his bets, that Rose should be in the Hall of Fame. I hope one day Major League Baseball understands and rightfully ends Rose’s ban. I’d like to end by mentioning a poll done on ESPN.com in August for the 25th anniversary of Rose’s ban, asking whether or not Rose’s ban should be reversed. 81% of the roughly 500,000 responses ruled in favor of Rose. The people have spoken.