In an exhibition game the other day, the Dodgers played the Cincinnati Reds at Camelback Ranch. During the game, Los Angeles broadcaster Charley Steiner lamented on Reds greats of the past. Joe Morgan, Johnny Bench and Barry Larkin are names that are forever linked with the Reds. Left out of the conversation was Pete Rose. “Charlie Hustle,” as he was better known as, played from 1963 to 1986. As the all-time hits leader, Rose was a formidable opponent winning three World Series rings, three batting titles and an MVP Award. After years of denying his gambling on baseball, Rose voluntarily agreed to permanently be placed on baseball’s ineligible list.
It has been twenty-one years since Rose said goodbye to baseball. In his book My Prison Without Bars, Rose discloses his addiction to gambling and his never-ending quest to win. “Winning is fun” he writes, however his hunger to win came at a great cost. To date, no one has ever been reinstated by Major League Baseball for gambling. Still, Rose knows this fact and hopes he will be the exception to the rule.
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In spite of his past transgressions, Rose is still considered one of the best to ever played the game. His ferociousness on the field is what many fans remember and recognize as a compelling argument for reinstatement.
“He should be acknowledged for his accomplishments,” says fan Brian Brown. “What he did off the field should not tarnish his legacy.”
While fans like Brown feel Rose should receive his due accolades, others like ThreeDog on Major League Baseball’s Message Board agree with this user who writes “the rule is in place for a reason and reinstatement undermines that reason. Rose knew the risk when he bet on his own team and now should have to live and die with the consequences.”
Part of Rose’s risk was foregoing a formal apology for a tell-all book. In it, he delves into the genesis of his addiction to winning explaining “I had huge appetites and I was always hungry. It wasn’t that I was bored with the challenges of managing the Reds — I just didn’t want the challenges to end!”
In light of Rose’s candid book, his quest for reinstatement has yet to gain traction. Rose believes in winning. Nevertheless, his desire to win seems to be a justification for his past discretions. Perhaps, one day, he will triumph and get into the Hall of Fame. For now, his lack of contrite admission still leads to an omission from the annals of the game.