The Pete Rose debate rages on

“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.” 

Statement by then Commissioner
of Baseball, A. Bartlett Giamatti,
August 24, 1989

It’s been twenty years since late baseball Commissioner Giamatti uttered those fateful words.  And during that period, few sports stories have drawn as much media attention or polarized a fan base as the Pete Rose gambling scandal.  Hardcore Cincinnati Reds or Pete Rose fans will have you believe that Rose, because of his performance on the field as a player, should be allowed admittance into the Hall of Fame.  Rose was undoubtedly one of the greatest hitters of his generation.  He holds countless major league records.  His on-field legacy is undeniable and no one can take that away from him.  Those opposing his induction argue that Rose, as a major league manager, wagered on the outcome of baseball games, including those he was involved in, and thus violated the most basic and ethical rules of the sport.  As it stands right now, Rose is still banished from the sport and, despite recent rumors, there are no indications he will be invited back any time soon.


The Rose story first broke in 1989, when baseball officials announced they were looking into alleged gambling violations by the former Reds superstar.  At that time, Rose was managing in Cincinnati.  In May of that year, Commissioner Giamatti received the infamous Dowd Report, a 225-page document outlining Rose’s alleged illegal activity.  In August, Rose agreed to a lifetime ban, all the while admitting he never bet on baseball.  In 1991, members of baseball’s Hall of Fame voted unanimously to keep Pete Rose off the ballot in his first year of eligibility.  In 1997, Rose applied unsuccessfully for reinstatement.


pete-rose-baseballAfter lying to the public and his fans about his gambling habits for over a decade, Rose has in recent years come forth and admitted he did, in fact, bet on baseball.  In 2003, Rose, after years of deception, admitted that not only did he bet on the Reds every game, but he would wager as much as $10,000 per game on his team to win.  He said he did so because he always felt his team would be victorious.  Rose still claims he never bet against his team.  The Dowd report never uncovered any information indicating Rose bet against the Reds.


Before continuing, let’s review Major League Baseball rule 21(d), which is posted in every major league clubhouse and of which every major league ball player or coach is made aware: 


“Any player, umpire, or club or league official or employee, who shall bet any sum whatsoever upon any baseball game in connection with which the bettor has a duty to perform shall be declared permanently ineligible.”


While we currently live in a society where professional athletes run wild, abuse (or allegedly murder) their spouses, physically confront fans, engage in random gunfire, use illicit or performance-enhancing drugs, house illegal gambling rings, make inane racial commentary, drive drunk and barter for tens of millions of dollars in annual salary, we are somewhat to blame for their behavior.  It is we the fans who put these athletes on a pedestal, then complain when they fail to meet the standards we set for them.  Although gambling pales in comparison to some of these aforementioned violations, it is still illegal in most parts of this country.


pete-rose-2It is inarguably immoral to gamble on an event of which you can directly affect the outcome.  It is cheating.  Bottom line.  Just as insider trading is illegal on Wall Street, placing a wager on a professional or college sporting event when you are a direct participant is unethical.  Pete Rose did just that… and did so consistently.  Lying about it was just the icing on the cake.


Baseball’s Hall of Fame is reserved for the elite of the elite.  It is much more difficult to get into than its counterparts in Springfield, Massachusetts and Canton, Ohio.  And despite being the all-time hit king, major league baseball has done the right thing by continuing to exclude Pete Rose from induction into Cooperstown.  The rules are explicit.  He knew about them and he broke them.  To make an exception for Rose, simply because of his talent as a player would be inconsistent and inappropriate.  It would reward a man for cheating and lying. 


The Hall of Fame carefully selects its members based on “the player’s record, playing ability, integrity, sportsmanship, character, and contributions to the team(s) on which the player played.”  Although Rose wagered on baseball as a manager and not as a player, you can not separate the ‘integrity’ and ‘character’ from the Rose the player and Rose the manager.  These men are one and the same.  To admit into the Hall Rose would be the equivalent of telling baseball fans nationwide that it is okay to cheat, as long as you’re good at what you do.  We can not redefine ‘permanently ineligible’ for Mr. Rose just because he holds the all-time hit record.

Pete Rose let down his teammates, his fans and himself by gambling on baseball.  For that indiscretion, he is now paying the price of a lifetime as Rose will not, and should not, be allowed to go to the window and collect that final winning ticket.

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40 Replies to “The Pete Rose debate rages on”

  1. I cannot even vote on this one because I loved Pete Rose so much growing up. My best friend and I had ongoing debates about who was the better Red’s player…Johnny Bench or Pete Rose. In the end, we were both so disappointed in our heroes.

  2. DB… anyone from the midwest is automatically going to side with Rose.

    This post was orignally written for a He Said/She Said debate with Bluegrass on Fox. She was from Kentucky and similarly grew up admiring Pete Rose.

    I’ll find the link to her side of the argument and post it.

  3. Growing up in Atlanta with Hank Aaron, Dale Murphy, Phil Neikro and others, I absolutely despised Pete Rose. Yes, I thought he was cocky, arrogant, and wreaked “full of myself” mentality. But, because he lit us up like a birthday cake. We had our laughs at him near the end of his career with Philly. I went to a four game series, sat behind home plate, and heckled him every time he came up. He went 0-17 that weekend and the Braves swept the series. It was years later I realized how great he was as a player. He gave 110% every time he took the field.
    Most of us despise the greatest of them all especially if your team is at the short end of the stick (Steve Spurrier, Jeff Gordon, etc) but you have to realize how great they are at what they do. As much as I depsise Pete Rose as a player (I never paid attention to him as a manager), he deserves to be in the Hall of Fame as a player.

  4. loved Pete Rose. maybe the debate goes on becaus eseveral players throughtout that 20 year span have tainted baseball as well and only gotten a slap on the wrist or a fine. granted i dont know who was kept out or who made it into the hall of fame but you can see the point im making…i think. he played a good game, gambling or not…hell isnt horse racing gambling?? nice article none the less.

  5. Chris

    I think it’s pretty safe to say that with Hank Aaron now coming out and saying that it’s his belief that Rose should finally be enshrined in Cooperstown. I think that Selig and DuPuy will seriously have to rethink the whole issue.

    Aaron is the most respected enshrinee and I’m sure that a great many of the other living inductees are in complete agreement with his statements.

    Alan Parkins

  6. Interesting take, Dan.

    There were a few athletes I always hated: Reggie Jackson, Charlie Ward, etc. But that’s because they always destroyed the teams I rooted for.

    What if they can’t make an exception for just Pete Rose as the player? I mean, it’s not as if they’re two different people.

  7. Double D…

    I know how you feel about Pete Rose and I wondered whether you’d chime in.

    I’m actually surprised you weren’t more supportive of letting Rose into the Hall.

    Thanks for chiming in.

  8. Al… I’m glad we’ve come to the point of finally listening to Hammerin’ and giving him the respect he’s due.

    I’m not familiar with the relationship between those two baseball legends but it did surprise me that Hank came out and supported Rose so openly.

    That being said, it’ll take more than just Aaron’s endorsement for Cooperstown to open their doors.

  9. Chris

    If the likes of Selig and DuPuy aren’t prepared to listen to thelikes of Aaron. Then it’s pretty safe to say that as far as credibility goes. They’ve got none !

    Hank’s of the opinion that Rose has been penalized enough as it is. Albeit that it too him several years to openly admit to the act.

    Here’s Dennis Janson’s piece with regard to Aaron’s thoughts on the matter.

    Janson On Aaron-Rose Connection ……

    And this is another piece with Aaron’s views on PED users and their possible enshrinement in Cooperstown. Hopefully you’ll glean something informative from it all ?

    Aaron’s asterisk idea for PED using inductees gets support ……

    Here’s a link to that gaming piece I was telling you about that I’d be completing.

    Having One’s Cake And Eating It Who Says There’s No Collusion In Sports ? ……

    Alan Parkins

  10. Are you aginst abortion (Rose) but support the death penalty (Hall of Fame)?

    To deny our grandchilden and their children who visit the Hall of fame the talent and records Rose has accomplished would be an injustice. There are many sides to every story. Why can’t the Hall of Fame tell them both?

    Did M. Jordan really want to quit basketball for 2 years or did the NBA and Krauss (sp) the then owner of the Bulls and the White Sox work things out to keep MJ’s legacy alive? I know things didn’t work out well for MJ’s father.

    ps…I love to fish

  11. with all the things present day sport players do…like dog fighting, being accused of rape, heavy drugs…etc…gambling is pretty mild in my book. so let him in…and everybody shut up. my opinion only.

  12. Here’s the thing, Lee. And Jim Rome has probably explained it best.

    Yes, when compared to the other issues athletes get in trouble for, gambling seems like a much lesser crime.

    BUT… what gambling does is, particularly when you’re gambling on the sport you’re participating in, is tear at the fabric of the sport itself.

    When it was exposed that NBA referee Tim Donaghy was adjusting the way he called a game to affect the point spread, that was huge news.

    What that does for sportsfans is make us wonder whether what we’re watching is real or fixed.

    When I sit town to watch a Yankees-Rays game, if I can’t trust that the players, refs, managers, etc are on the up-and-up, then why should I watch? If the outcome of the game has already been predetermined, then what’s the point?

    I might as well just watch a movie I already know the end of.

  13. Hey Rev, growing up in Tampa I attended a lot of the Reds spring training games as a kid. They were my team as a boy so I am a little biased on this subject.

    The main thing that bothers me is the punishment, in my opinion does not fit the crime.

    The fact of the matter is that if Rose would have come clean at the beginnig we wouldn’t be talking about a life sentence. So basicaly his personality got him banned for life, not the crime.

    This matter demonstrates the hypocrisy of MLB and the Baseball Writers Assoc.

    If you have any doubt, I have a name for you. Orlando Cepeda. Check it out.

    Always a pleasure Rev, take care.

  14. Chris

    Another thing that I think that Lee has overlooked also. Is that when Vickl was asked by both Arthur Blank, owner of the Falcons and then Goodell. If he was involved in the allegations being made as well as the gambling ….he lied. If he can’t be trusted to tell the truth there. Then how can you trust the guy to even lead your damn team. If he’ll lie to Goodell and the owner. What’s not to believe that he won’t lie to his teammates on the field to begin with. Doesn’t anyone think about an issue to its full extent anymore ?

    Alan Parkins

  15. Aer… I remember hanging out and seeing the Reds at Al Lopez field too, man.

    To compare the Rose case on a much lesser scale to how we now see the steroid users… do we see Andy Pettitte in any different light because he immediately came clean as opposed to some of the other guys who denied, denied, denied?

    As far as I’m concerned, none of these guys recently gave us the whole truth.

    Again, though, if the outcome of the games are predetermined, that tears at the integrity and genuineness of the sport.

  16. Chris

    Yeah we all lie as such. But when it concerns one’s own esteem and the mere fact that by telling the truth from the outset . Then the situation mightn’t have appeared so bleak for Vick. What did he get from his actions ?

    It just shows what a complete as_hole he was to begin with !

    Did it gain him anything from Goodell of Arthur Blank ? There are times when its fortuitous and fruitful to lie and there are times when it’s not. What was it that a moron like Vick couldn’t figure out ? A mind as they say is a terrible thing to waste. In Vick’s case it one untapped resource of crap and bull_hit !

    I can see why it is he went to Va Tech. They’ll take anyone there within reason. Even those of their specie that now are just learning to walk on two feet.

    I dunno’ if it were baby steps however that Vick was meant to be taking at the time.

    Here’s a piece on the AL East and the mindset therein.

    Midnight In The Garden Of Good And Evil Or Could That Best Describe The AL East ……

    BTW , the book of that same title is a great read and soo too was Eastwood’s adaptation of it into a movie !

    Alan Parkins

  17. aero …..

    Will either of you be attend the Bucs training camp ?

    And by all accounts they’ve yet to sign Josh Freeman to his rookie contract. What’s there to think about for them at this juncture ? It just goes to show that where experience is needed within the organization. There’s little or none there in the guise of both Dominik and Morris.

    Alan Parkins ….

  18. Like kids getting caught with their hands in the cookie jar, Adam Jones, Roger Clemens, Michael Vick’s first reactions were all to lie. I’m surprised you’d expect anything else.

    So Freeman can’t even show up to camp unsigned? This is already an auspicious start to a hopefully successful career.

  19. Chris

    Not wanting to do any more damage to the esteemed Red Sox nation.

    But what now ? AP is now reporting that Big Papi also tested positive and is on that list of 100 plus names.

    Report: Ortiz, Ramirez tested positive in 2003 ……

    Let’s just call it quits and put the damn list out there as of now. As it is MLB and MLBPA fu_ked up from the beginning by not destroying the list when they had the chance to in the first place. Thereby allowing the Feds and to use that evidence in any way necessary as they sought fit.

    That’s what happens when you’ve got the dumbest sons of bitches on the face of the planet , not only running the sport but also ruining it to begin with !

    Alan Parkins ………

  20. Hey Al, good to hear from you. I’m going on vacation next week so I’m going to try and go by there before I leave town.
    How about you guys. It would be a great place to meet up.

    The Bucs are in for some growing pains that’s for sure.

    Take care my friends.

  21. Chris

    Unless Vick can turn his image around the way that Kobe and Ray Lewis have done. Then the stigma that’s attached will continue to remain. And that you can rest assured will most definitely limit his earning potential , both on and off the field.

    And at the end of the day that’s what it all comes down to in the end. That’s something that a great many people tend to overlook. Why’d you think the likes of A-Rod can’t hit it big with a major corporate sponsor ? Jeter makes $17m plus a year and another $8-$10m on top in endorsements. A-Rod can’t even make that in his dreams , much less anywhere else.

    Image is everything or nothing at all ! Q ratings are what it’s all about man !

    You don’t think that Roethlisberger is sh_tt_ng bricks as of now ? Anything that underminds his image and earning potential outside the game hurts him immensely. So his situation at present isn’t something that he wants to be lingering about in the public domain for too long a period of time.

    Alan Parkins ….

  22. I agree, Al. Release the hounds.

    I wasn’t all that shocked with the Papi news, nor will I be with any of the names to be released in the future.

  23. True, Al. And right now Vick could use the best of the best of image consultants.

    While no team has openly come out and expressed interest, Vick reportedly announced he was close to signing with someone. Why would he say something like that?

    I’m a firm believer in fewest words possible and the only thing he should be expressing right now is contrition if he wants to win back a substantial fan base.

  24. Chris

    I mightn’t be able to do that . As I’ve got to head south with several of the attorneys here to work alongside with the Miami office on a business project.

    I’ll be there for possibly no more than four or five days, I hope at best.

    As I said with these players it’s about image and not much and beyond that.

    As to the Bucs, I don’t know that their camp’ll be all that eventful. It’s been said that the tickets have all been sold out. But I was under the impression that several of their workouts were meant to be free ?

    Dropped this piece .

    Problems You Think You’ve Got Problems ……….

    Alan Parkins …….

  25. Chris

    What’s happening with the sportsreviewmagazine website ? I tried to place my information there in order to become a subsrciber and there seem to be a problem there.

    What’s up with that ?

    Read a great piece today on former Bills’ defensive player Bruce Smith. Being that he’ll be inducted into the Hall of Fame alongside Rod Woodson, Randall McDaniel, Bills’ owner Ralph Wilson, ‘Bullet’ Bob Hayes and Derrick Thomas. Perhaps one of the best inductions classes in recent memory ?

    Uneasy lies sack king: Latest DUI clouds Smith’s Hall Entry …

    Nearly healthy, Nelson eyes title ….

    Here’s a link also on the Magic’s Jameer Nelson.

    Alan Parkins

  26. Nice to see the Bucs signed Freeman at least. Nice contract for a rook if you can get it.

    That is a nice NFL HOF class. Be right there to check out the links.

    Played golf in Bradenton today and nailed consecutive birdies on 10 and 11. Mightily Tigerlike.

  27. Chris

    I can only assume you’d either been getting tips or giving tips to Tiger after his exceptiional round today.

    Dropped this piece on the Niners and Raiders today.

    As and when you’re ready I’ll look forward to reading your comments as to the merits of the piece.

    The Glass Is Either Half Empty Or Half Full ….

    So the Rays ended up doing nothing at the trade deadline ? I told you so. And even in August , I doubt that they’ll be taking anyone off waivers.

    As your beloved Boston Red Sox , it was a great pickup in obtaining Victor Martinez . He’ll definitely add more ‘pop’ to the Sox’s offense.

    Alan Parkins

  28. Chris

    It the Bucs hadn’t signed Freeman as of 4pm today. It’d have proven to be highly embarrassing for the franchise. And that most definitely isn’t the appearance that they’d want to create to the fans and the NFL as a whole.

    As it is the franchise is already coming off , looking like some second rate organization.

    This NFL Hall of Fame class is an exceptional one !

    Alan Parkins

  29. I’m looking forward to see what Victor can do in that lineup.

    And the Bucs had to get Freeman signed. You’re right. That would have been a blunder to start off a long and hopefully prosperous relationship.

  30. What a great sports site you have here man. I have a sports blog myself and I would like to exchange links with you. Let me know if this is possible.

  31. Jason… glad you like, man. It’s still a work in progess.

    I checked out your site and will do some more reading soon. I’d be glad to exchange links. I’ll have you up by the end of the weekend.

  32. Sounds good, J.

    Just checking.

    I’ll add you tomorrow. Please so the same. May the links bring us both plenty of traffic.

    Keep me posted if you make any URL changes.


  33. Couldn’t agree with this article any more than I do.

    It’s so painfully obvious that no professional in their right mind would ever bet on the outcome of their team. And then to lie about it for almost 15 years? I might have had a modicum of compassion towards this character if he had admitted his mistake, taken his punishment and then waited for someone else to recommend his reinstatement.

    I can’t believe we’ve been talking about this issue for as long as we have. The rules are clear….why change them now. In fact, I think that’s exactly Pete Rose’s problem. Because of his talent, and because of how we apologize for our heroes, Rose never had to play by the rules. It’s an overinflated ego that makes him feel that he’s better than the “ordinary” folks. This is the same character flaw that makes people, steal, beat their wives, extort from their businesses, live a double life, and possibly kill people and rationalizing the event.

    Screw Pete Rose and any other person that exhibits this type of pathalogical behavior. Maybe if baseball holds to it’s principles, this guy may reach some form of enlightenment and atonement…….I seriously doubt it though.

  34. I exhibit pathological behavior just don’t hold it against me.

    It’s funny. I was watching the Dodgers game last night and Orel Hershiser was doing the broadcast. His play-by-play man asked him straight out whether he thought Rose should be in the Hall and he said no. And Hershiser is a FRIEND of Pete Rose.

    Hershiser went on to say adamantly that MLB teaches its players the importance of NOT betting on the sport as soon as they enter the league.

    I’m heading to see the Sox/Rays game tonight. That’s the picture text I sent you.

  35. The HOF is a museum. Don’t make it more than it is. However, if they really don’t want him in then take down the Pete Rose stuff that is already there.

  36. Biff… you raise an interesting argument. A lot of his memorabliia is in there so in that sense, it’s self-serving for the HOF to not allow him entry yet make money off his accomplishments.

    The HOF is a museum but it’s also an exclusive club, sometimes too exclusive, that is designed to commemorate the best of the best. While Rose clearly ranked in that group, he also violated the game’s most sacred tenet.

    I think we can both agree that the game and its HOF has adopted a holier than thou attitude.

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