Saturday, August 23, 2014
AUGUST 23 = Pete Rose is Banned From Baseball.
"More than anything, his brazen, unadulterated, unapologetic pursuit of money has been both his ruination and kept him from being able to truly re-configure his life in the way that Baseball Commissioner Bart Giamatti meant it."
- John Erardi, Cincinnati Enquirer
On today's date, August 23 in 1989 - Pete Rose was given a lifetime ban from Major League Baseball by Commissioner Bart Giamatti for having bet on baseball games. Eight days later on September 1, 1989, Mr. Giamatti died of a heart attack. Rose's ban was controversial to say the least, and remains so to this day. But for different reasons than when the Commissioner imposed it. Because on December 12, 2003, after years of denials, Rose admitted in a interview with Charles Gibson of ABC News that he had in fact bet on baseball, including on Reds games, and that he had admitted as much to Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig in November of 2002. The part that remains controversial is the fact that his lifetime ban has proven thus far to be just that: LIFETIME. There have been calls for years now that Rose should be reinstated to baseball, and given the place of honor in the baseball Hall of Fame which he as the Major League life-time leader in base hits - he collected 4,256 of them - surely entitles him. That is another question which I shall deal with shortly. But since my purpose here is to bring you historical fact most of all, let me briefly do that first.
The Trail to the Ban
On February 21, 1989 Rose and his lawyers met in New York with Baseball Commissioner Peter Ueberroth and other officials. Later it was revealed that the discussion had been of Rose's gambling habits. After Ueberroth left A. Bartlett Giamatti (below) became Baseball's new Commissioner. Rose had been known to consort with gamblers and bet on horses and other sports frequently in spite of the sign in every baseball clubhouse reminding all who trod forth that players, coaches and managers were forbidden to take any part in gambling on baseball
Giamatti's Death, Pete in the Wilderness
Immediately there was added controversy when at the press conference announcing the decision Giamatti answered reporters questions that yes, he personally believed that Rose had indeed bet on baseball games including those played by the Reds. Rose hotly denied this, and claimed that Giamatti had gone against the spirit of the agreement. He insisted that the agreement meant that he could apply for reinstatement after a period of one year. Giamatti said that while Rose could indeed apply for reinstatement, there had been no deal at all as to whether he would be granted his request. That would come only if Rose re-configured his life to deal with his apparent gambling addiction. But this all came to a
And Pete has been in baseball's wilderness ever since. He did indeed apply for reinstatement but his request was denied and has been ever since. Rose went on to consistently deny having bet on baseball for years against all evidence that he did it. And he failed to "re-configure" his life as per the agreement, instead continuing his association with the world and the casinos of Las Vegas, and other such interests. But eventually he came to accept that he would have to come clean. That same bull-headed stubbornness that had made him so great as a player despite a lack of natural gifts, finally had to give way to the truth.. that he had bet on baseball and on the Reds. He has since come clean about that, and tearfully admitted the wrong he had done to the game of baseball. But the Commissioners who followed Giamatti, first Fay Vincent, and most recently, Bud Selig have denied him reinstatement, not only for the allegations, but reportedly because they consider him responsible for Giamatti's death.
Should Pete Rose Be in Baseball's Hall of Fame?
The answer to this question has been argued back and forth ad infinitum, but in my opinion must be answered YES. Of course, I have my own bias, being from Cincinnati, and having graduated the same high school that Pete did - Western Hills High School. I have attended Reds games and been a fan of the Reds and Rose ever since watching him from the right field bleachers at Crosley Field in 1969. I've said throughout that Pete Rose was the most explosively exciting player I ever witnessed in person. And while he did bet on Reds games, it was to win. He never did anything to throw a game. Pete has payed his dues and done his just punishment. He should be in Baseball's Hall of Fame (pictured below).
The Cincinnati Enquirer, March 10, 2014
"It's Time to Rethink Pete Rose" by Kostya Kennedy, Sports Illustrated, March 10, 2014