The headline may be a clue to you that, when I first set out to write this column, I was gearing up for battle. I was all set to tackle the issue of injustice in Major League Baseball, specifically in the case of Pete Rose and his quest for entry in the MLB Hall of Fame. I am so passionate about this issue, I was prepared to compare apples to oranges.
My case in point is the issue that has followed Pete for years. The man is 75 years old and there are kids who are aware of his accomplishments on the baseball diamond. However, he has been denied entry into the Hall because of gambling. This is not an issue akin to that of “Shoeless” Joe Jackson and his White Sox cronies, who conspired to fix the 1919 World Series. Pete dropped a few bucks on some games while serving as either a player or coach of a MLB team, but history has proven that he never bet against his team and his name “Charlie Hustle” was well earned.
To address the issue of equity, I pointed to the NFL. To site a few examples, I showcased Alex Karras and Paul Hornug. Karras was a defensive dynamo for the Detroit Lions, and after serving out a one-year suspension for gambling, returned to the field. Hornug was a running back for the Green Bay Packers. He too served a one-year suspension, and his career culminated with his induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton. Karras went on to a second career in Hollywood.
To turn up the flame a little bit, let me remind you of Michael Vick. Mike was convicted of masterminding a dog-fighting ring and spent time in prison. However, upon release, he returned to the football field, and will probably gain a seat in the Hall.
My pressure was rising as I wrote, and there was a curl to my lip when I recalled the fact that Pete holds the all-time record for hits, has numerous batting titles and MVP Awards. This man has three World Series rings (2 with Cincinnati and 1 with Philadelphia). He was recently honored along with Tony Perez, Joe Morgan, Johnny Bench, Dave Concepcion and George Foster at the Great American Ball Park. His No. 14 jersey was proudly displayed along with those of his Hall of Fame teammates.
This was enough ammo for me to make my case when, during my research, I came across some info that made me say, “Oops!!!”
Aside from the gambling, Pete is facing another issue that can not be ignored. He is accused of having a sexual partnership with a 14 year-old girl. Pete was 30 at the time, and this issue brought to light the fact that he was known to bring underage girls to spring training during the 70’s. Not only was the girl underage, but Pete was married with two kids at the time.
With that said, I am going to put away my soap box for Rose, and be thankful I won’t get a call from my boss wondering what the hell is wrong with me.