Pete Rose remains an outsider on the national level and probably will be forever. But at least his regional fans in the Cincinnati area will see him enshrined at least once…in the Reds Hall of Fame!
Pete Rose is going into the Hall of Fame. It is not the Hall of Halls, it is not the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y., where he belongs, but it is a start.
Rose will be inducted into the Cincinnati Reds Hall of Fame this summer and his No. 14 will be retired the weekend of June 24-26.
That assures the Reds of at least two sellouts next season — Opening Day and Pete Rose Day.
And since the announcement this week we have not suffered Apocalypse, the earth continues spinning on its axis and pigs aren’t flying.
The game of baseball is not collapsing because the Reds finally get to honor the most iconic player every to wear the team’s uniform.
This all would have been done years ago if former commissioner Bud Selig had permitted it. But he said no, although he permitted Rose to attend a few special events, including the team’s celebration of its Great Eight.
New commissioner Rob Manfred said yes, even though he said no to re-instating Rose from his banishment from the game for betting on baseball.
And his number? Even though they couldn’t retire it, only one player wore the number after Rose was banished. His, son, Pete Jr., wore ‘14’ for 11 games in 1997, a publicity gimmick staged by then general manager Jim Bowden.
Even though Rose will be inducted into the Reds Hall of Fame, he still will not be permitted access to the clubhouse, the dugout or the press box. He shows up several times a year at games and sits behind home plate in the Diamond Seats. When the cameras catch him, Great American Ball Park erupts with cheers and chants, “Pete, Pete, Pete,” and “Hall of Fame, Hall of Fame.”
A few years ago, Rose, Hall of Fame broadcaster Marty Brennaman and I were chatting outside the press box at GABP. A fan spotted us and asked if he could take our picture and we lined up.
As he aimed the camera, the fan said, “Look at this. Three Hall of Famers.” And Rose quickly said, “Well, two-and-a-half.”
Everybody knows what Rose did with his gambling and his 13 years of denial. Because he is Pete Rose he thought his uniform was Teflon, that everything would bounce or slide off. He ignored the toughest rule in baseball, rule 21. In effect, he says that any player, umpire or club official who bets on baseball shall be banished for life. For life. And Rose signed off on it when he was banished.
We all also know Rose is his own worst enemy, his own Public Enemy No. 1, because he opens mouth and inserts foot. As one man said, “Other than when he is talking about baseball when his lips are moving he is lying.”
Even though he is banished for life, he is entitled to apply for re-instatement and has done it twice and been twice denied. That last time was this year and Manfred denied it in December.
Rose held a press conference. Guess where? Las Vegas, the gambling capital of the world. And during his hearing with Manfred he admitted he STILL BETS ON BASEBALL through the legal sports betting parlors in Vegas.
Wearing a white Cincinnati Reds cap and a plaid shirt with ‘Hit King’ on the collar, Rose said a telling thing during his press conference on Las Vegas Blvd. Tuesday afternoon.
“I just want to be a friend of baseball. I don’t want to be an outsider looking in,” he said.
But that’s what he remains, after baseball Manfred turned down his petition for re-instatement.
He will forever be a friend of baseball because, as he said, “It’s all I know, baseball and my family are my first loves.”
When he concentrates on baseball, there is no better ambassador for the game. He breathes, lives and sleeps baseball. Always has, always will.
But he is going to be forever on the outside looking in. He won’t be re-instated in his lifetime, if ever, no matter what he does.
Rose talked alot about what he is doing with his life helping kids, talking to ballplayers, participating in charities and visiting hospitals. But it is what he did in the past that will live forever.
As he said it, “I have been my own worst enemy. But I’ve learned from my mistakes and my suspension.”
Rose says he has reconfigured his life, but he continues to gamble. He calls it recreational gambling, just for fun and enjoyment, but why would he bet on baseball?
Baseball wanted him to reconfigure his life and that certainly meant no gambling, legally, recreationally or even office pools. And even it if is legal in Las Vegas, betting on baseball legally sent the wrong message to commissioner Manfred. If Rose were re-instated and hired as a manager or coach or advisor, Manfred fears he would continue his recreational gambling, including baseball.
Rose was asked why he continues gambling after he was suspended for life and said, “Good question. You have to understand this and why don’t they understand this? Why did you continue to gamble? That’s the way I get my enjoyment. I’m not a stock market guy. I’m not a Draft Kings guy or on-line guy. If I want to bet on football and go home and watch it, that’s my enjoyment. You are probably right. I shouldn’t have done that, but I have to live my life. Everything I do is legal and I am in control of myself.”
Rose did show more contrition during this press conference than he has in the past, but obviously did not convince Manfred.
“I won’t sit here on Las Vegas Blvd. and complain, because I’m the one who screwed up,” he said. “I’m the one who made the mistakes. And I can only hope I can help people from making the same mistakes that I made in the game of baseball. If I could change the life I’ve lived, I’d change. But that’s just the way it is. You can’t rewrite what already has been lived. You just have to try to be a better person.”
And Rose is a good person these days and he says, “I’m a good guy, to be honest with you. Unlike 30 years ago, when I was out of control as a gambler. I don’t live in Las Vegas because I’m a gambler. I live here because it is where I work. This town is the only town where my job works (selling autographs and memorabilia). If I want to make small bets, and I don’t bet every day. . .”
“No more behind the scenes stuff (gambling illegally with bookies) and I’m very selective about the people I associate with,” he said. “That’s another reason I got into trouble back in the 70’s, or 80s, I should say.”
Trying to wrap it up, Rose said, “In a nutshell, and I told Mr. Manfred this, all I look forward to is that some day to be a friend of baseball. I want Pete Rose and baseball to be friends. That’s all I want, so I can say I’m not an outsider looking in.”
He remains an outsider on the national level and probably will be forever. But at least his regional fans in the Cincinnati area, and they are legion, will get to see him recognized by the Reds Hall of Fame & Museum.