The shame of the Rose

The Baseball Hall of Fame has elected Dennis Eckersley and Paul Molitor. In my opinion, both deserve to be in the Hall, as does Ryne Sandberg who finished third in the voting but fell short of the required 75 percent of the vote. The Washington Post notes that neither Eckersley (a “closer” during his best years) nor Molitor (a designated hitter for many years) would likely have made the Hall but for changes in the rules or norms of the game.
Unfortunately, news of the election of Eckersley and Molitor is overshadowed by Pete Rose’s admission that he bet on baseball. The Washington Post’s Thomas Boswell isn’t impressed by Rose’s admission, and neither am I. Rose is a liar and a scoundrel, and he should never be allowed back into the game. Boswell’s piece contains a number of anecdotes that drive home the point. However, he does not include the one I find most telling. Rose’s National League record consecutive game hitting streak ended short of Joe DiMaggio’s Major League record when a relief pitcher named Gene Garber struck him out on a wicked side-arm pitch. Rose castigated Garber for throwing such a hard-to-hit pitch with his hitting streak on the line. That’s how little regard Rose has for the integrity of baseball.
Nonetheless, the case can be made that Rose should be in the Hall of Fame. He has never been accused of betting against his team or throwing a game. Betting on baseball at all is a serious offense, but if I remember my baseball history correctly, Ty Cobb and Tris Speaker were involved in a betting scandal at the end of their careers. Cobb is a charter member of the Hall of Fame and Speaker was elected the second year. If Rose is elected, though, I wouldn’t mind if it occurs posthumously.

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