Let’s first take a look at what the man has done during his MLB career. Pete Rose earned the nickname “Charlie Hustle” because of his determination and the passion he took with him every time he stepped onto the diamond. He was famous for always running to 1st base even after a walk and reviving the dangerous head-first slide. Rose is the only player to play 500 games at 5 different positions and is probably the most efficient switch-hitter in baseball history.
Pete’s love for the game was apparent in everything he did. His career was impressive as he still holds quite a few records. These include 4,256 hits, 3,562 games, and 14,053 at bats. He also has in his arsenal three batting titles, 1968, 69 and 73; six World Series appearances – three ending in championships. He is 2nd all-time in doubles, 4th in runs, and amassed at the least 100 hits in his first 23 seasons, another record. He had more than 200 hits in a season 10 times, also a record, and led the league in hits for 7 seasons.
Rose was Rookie of the Year in 1963. In 1975 he was named the World Series Most Valuable Player, Sports Illustrated Sportsman of the Year, The Sporting News Man of the Year and was named the Player of the Decade for the 1970s by TSN. Anyone who knows baseball has certainly heard of “The Big Red Machine.” Rose was one of the most important contributors to the Reds domination of the 70’s.
In 1989, Charlie Hustle was banned from the game for gambling on baseball while he was manager/player for the Cincinnati Reds by then Commissioner Giamatti. His statistical standing in the history of major league baseball cannot be touched but will they ever be officially recognized? Some say yes if he owns up to what he has done and apologize for the behavior. I say, why should this matter?
Since Rose’s departure from the game as a player, there has yet to be anyone to fill the void of his passion and desire. I heard Joe Morgan once say in an interview that if he could impose one wish on a young player coming into the major league, it would be to spend one year with Pete Rose as a teammate.
The Hall of Fame just isn’t complete without the inclusion of Pete Rose. It is a museum for the fans and is supposed to honor those who played the game better than anyone during their tenure. I understand and do agree Rose should never be allowed to manage again nor hold any position in professional baseball. However, apology or not for the gambling, Charlie Hustle is a Hall of Famer. PLEASE stop moralizing MLB! Don’t kid yourself that past, current, and future inductees were given some kind of character and moral fitness test prior to their admission.
Under any impartial standard, Pete Rose was one of the greatest players to play the game of baseball. Under any sober standard, he has to be included in the group of people who are the greatest players to play the game of baseball.
Honor the player. The gambler has been punished.