I just saw that Reggie Jackson came out in favor of Pete Rose being admitted into the Hall of Fame.
Not for the standard-issue, he’s-really-a-great-guy-at-heart reasons, however. I’ve seen and heard Pete Rose up close, and the man is authentic, 100-proof slime. Hell, just read Pat Jordan’s 1989 GQ profile of Pete Rose, Jr., and you’ll need no more proof. Selfish. Greedy. Sleazy. Dirty. (Side note: I’ve always loved the story that a baseball lifer told me about Rose. The Reds were in Atlanta, and Rose turned to a writer and asked, “Hey, are we east or west of Houston?”). I remember the criticism Jim Gray endured after he undressed Rose during the ’99 all-century ceremony, and, well, I’m completely with Gray. Rose made his bed, and he more than deserves many of the consequences. If Rose’s remaining days are spent signing $10 baseballs outside of Tulsa’s Walâ€¢Mart, I wouldn’t shed a tear.
So why does he belong in the Hall? Because if you examine the history of Cooperstown enshrinement, there’s a fine line placed between managerial records and player records. Joe Torre, for example, will never get in as a player. He will, however, certainly be elected as a manager. The same goes for Tommy Lasorda; for Bobby Cox; for Dick Williams. They’re in (or will be in) based on a their managerial skillsâ€”nothing more.
In this case, Pete Rose: Player belongs in the Hall with no debate. His statistics are unparalleled, his style of play revered, his status as a champion unquestioned. That he later gambled on the game as a manager should not impact these facts. You’re mad that he bet on baseball? Well, don’t vote for him as a manager.