As many are aware, Pete Rose was banned from baseball for betting on the sport. This has always been considered a taboo in Major League Baseball as they have always prohibited their players from betting on the sport. Rose was caught doing such and most specifically, regularly wagering on his own team.
Here is where it gets interesting for us at NIHOF. We will flat out tell you that the five of us who comprise the NIHOF committee are borderline degenerate gamblers, so for us to come down on a kindred spirit seems so wrong to us. With that said, there is nothing in our line of work that prevents us from placing a wager or two; there was for Pete Rose.
Where it got worse was that Rose denied the allegations for years. How different would it have been had he owned up and admitted what he did? When heroes fall (and sadly we are a society that wants to see it happen) the expectation is that they own up to their mistakes and they are forgiven. One only has to look at the current situation with Andy Petite and Roger Clemens and see the reactions to these two pitchers. Petite apologized, and when he pitches today, fans don’t think about his former PED use. Clemens is on TV, and all we can think about are his hollow denials.
This isn’t to say that Pete Rose would have been reinstated had he admitted his guilt. Baseball is an institution rooted so deeply in tradition that it often fails to move forward. There is a very sizable chance that Rose would have remained ineligible had he admitted that wrongdoing twenty years ago. What probably cemented his fate is that when he finally did admit gambling on Baseball it was in 2004 upon releasing a book. The timing was awful as he did so two days after the Baseball Hall of Fame announced their 2004 inductees. It reeked of selfishness, and the apology fell flat to many.
Regardless, we are hopeful that at some point in time, Pete Rose becomes inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame. There should be no doubt that his is the greatest omission of any Hall of Fame period. There is no question about that. Pete will however likely be our “1A” candidate for years to come.