Pete Rose. Discussed are his career and the different perceptions of him. Six sources used. MLA.
Few names in baseball stir as much controversy and create as much passion as the name Pete Rose. His career is unarguably outstanding. However, the verdict still seems to be out regarding his ethics. The fact that he bet on games really isn’t the issue, most people believe and accept that he did. The fact that he was banned for life from baseball, although most people feel it was far too harsh a punishment for his crime, isn’t the issue. What is the issue is his place in baseball history, namely the Baseball Hall of Fame. For the past decade, his banishment from this honorary induction has sparked debates among fans, sports writers, the baseball commission, and the general public. Always cocky and often self-promoting, Pete Rose is indeed a legend in his own time, as his baseball record enters the new millennium unbroken.
One of four children, Pete Edward Rose was born April 14, 1941 in Cincinnati, Ohio, and grew up in Anderson Ferry, Ohio. His father, a semiprofessional football player, encouraged Pete’s participation in sports (Pete pg). Like many young boys, Rose spent his childhood playing sports with his friends, particularly baseball, later playing for the local little league team. During high school, he played both baseball and football, however, his skill at baseball brought a contract from the Cincinnati Reds after graduation. Assigned to the Reds minor league team, Rose played for the farm team in Tampa, Florida and the Class B team in Macon, Georgia (Pete pg). Rose once said:
People say I don’t have great tools. They say that I can’t throw like Ellis Valentine or run like Tim Raines or hit with power like Mike Schmidt. Who can? I make up for it in other ways – by putting out a little bit more. That’s my theory – to go through life hustling. In the big leagues, hustle usually means being in the right place at the right time. It means backing up a base. It means backing up your teammate. It means taking that headfirst slide. It means doing everything you can do to win a baseball game” (Pete pg).
Rose climbed through the ranks of the team and by the beginning of the 1963 season was the Red’s second base regular. Yankee pitcher, Whitey Ford, was so impressed with Rose’s hard-working style, that he nicknamed him ‘Charlie Hustle,’ a name that ironically would be all too fitting in the decades to come, yet, for other reasons. Rose was named National League Rookie of the Year his first year, hitting.273 that season. Rose retired in 1986, as Major League Baseball’s all-time career hits leader. From 1985-1988, he served as manager, “helping the Reds to 4 consecutive 2nd place finishes and was considered to be one of the best managers in baseball” (Pete pg). Rose’s career highlights include:
1963 Rookie of the Year
1969 Gold Glove
1970 Gold Glove
1973 National League MVP
1975 World Series MVP
World Series Championships (’75, ’76, ’80)
Voted Player of the 1970’s by The Sporting News
17 All-Star Game Appearances
World Series Appearances
League Championship Series
The Sporting News Man of the Year in 1985
The Last Player-Manager in Major League Baseball
Only Player to have played 500 games at 5 different positions
44 game consecutive hit streak (June 14 – July 31, 1978)
14,053 At Bats
160 Home Runs
198 Stolen Bases or more hits in 10 different games” (Pete pg).
Pete Rose went from being famous to being infamous when he was caught betting on baseball games and received a lifetime ban from baseball from the commission. Although there are staunch supporters of the sentence, the majority of opinion is that it was an unfair action against one of baseball’s greatest players. The real outrage for many is that this punishment keeps his name from being included in the Baseball Hall of Fame. In August 2002, Frank Deford of Sport’s Illustrated said, ” Of course Pete Rose is guilty of betting on baseball…as guilty as Paul Hornung, who bet on NFL games while playing in the NFL but is properly plaqued in Canton” (Deford pg). Deford further states that Rose is as guilty as many baseball immortals who stoke up on steroids, but Rose was only guilty when he was a manager. Deford says, “there is not a scintilla of evidence that he did anything untoward when he was playing the game” (Deford pg). Deford goes on to say that even if one believes that Manager Rose soiled the name of baseball, “how unfair-how-un-American- is it that the glories of his youth should be censored by the sins of male menopause?” (Deford pg). Deford complains that this is just not right.
Others, including many baseball players feel Rose got his just desserts when he was banned for life from baseball. His arrogance rubbed against the grain of many fellow teammates. Former teammate, Joe Morgan describes how Rose always played hard with his chest strutted out, saying, “I never say anybody who played every game like it was the seventh game of the World Series, not even me”…but… “A lot of guys say they wouldn’t come back if Pete gets in” (Jacobson A76). Bob Feller believes no one would come back. When Johnny Bench was being inducted into the Hall of Fame a few years ago, shouts of ‘We want Pete’ came from the crowd, to which Bench responded, “You can have him” (Jacobson A76).
Bench clearly has no sympathy for Rose. Recently during a radio interview, the commentator remarked that society has become liberal enough that there is common acceptance for many things such as recovering alcoholics and drug addicts, ‘so why not gambling…is betting illegal?’ Bench remarked, “It is if you’re playing the game…Everybody says ‘Oh, that’s Pete.’ Then everybody is betrayed” (Jacobson A76).
In an article for Newsday last year, sports writer Steve Jacobson wrote:
Nobody can deny what Rose accomplished as a player.
It’s in the glass cases, and more. Two plays I saw Rose make are dazzling memories. He was playing third base at Shea Stadium, man on third, and the batter hit a dribbler toward third. Rose charged and in one motion gloved the ball and flipped to Bench for the out at the plate. In a World
Series game, Bob Boone was struggling under a wind-drifted foul pop near the dugout and the ball went off his glove. Rose was there to catch the deflection” (Jacobson A76).
However, Jacobson goes on to recall an incident in the Red’s clubhouse. Rose told a story about taking a woman to a motel disguised behind sunglasses, and almost with joking pride that he could go no where unrecognized, recounted how the clerk simply said, ‘Can I help you, Mr. Rose’ (Jacobson A76). Jacobson said, “And there was the arrogance: ‘I’m Pete Rose and I can do anything I want'” (Jacobson A76).
When Rose was exiled from baseball, then Commissioner of Baseball, A. Barlett Giamatti issued this statement August 24, 1989:
The banishment for life of Pete Rose from baseball is the sad end of a sorry episode. One of the game’s greatest players has engaged in a variety of acts which have stained the game, and he must now live with the consequences of those acts. By choosing not to come to a hearing before me, and by choosing not to proffer any testimony or evidence contrary to the evidence and information contained in the report of the Special Counsel to the Commissioner, Mr. Rose has accepted baseball’s ultimate sanction, lifetime ineligibility” (Giamatti pg).
For many people, including Joe Morgan, Rose’s situation has been difficult to accept and to deal with. Although, there’s no been any accusation that Rose ever threw a game as manager, the truth is that there are all kinds of things a manager can do to manipulate a game he has bet on. Once when Rose was asked why he had used his closer, John Franco, with a 7-0 lead over San Francisco, he quipped, “The over-and-under on the betting was 71/2” (Jacobson A76). “Was it kidding on the square? Morgan said, ‘Pete liked to be cute…That was too cute'” (Jacobson A76). Ralph Kiner says that even in a liberal society, there’s no escaping the rule that everyone knows from day one, it’s on every clubhouse wall, “No betting” (Jacobson A76).
Although, Rose may be arrogant to a fault and he may be guilty of betting on baseball games while he was a manager, but to his credit there was never a hint that he ever noticed the color of a teammate, “Never,” said Morgan (Jacobson A76). However, Morgan has been critical of Rose’s continued denial, an issue that must be resolved before Rose could ever be reinstated. Recently, Morgan, who is vice president of the Hall…