Tuesday, January 6, 2004

Rose Belongs in Hall - Thorns and All

Rose Belongs in Hall – Thorns and All
Commentary by Sanford D. Horn
January 6, 2004

For the record, I am no fan of Pete Rose, a.k.a. “Charlie Hustle.”

I am a lifelong New York Mets fan and still have not forgiven Rose for the fracas he started with Mets shortstop Bud Harrelson during the 1973 National League Championship Series – a series won by the underdog Mets three games to two.

For the record, I consider myself a baseball purist. I don’t like lights at Wrigley Field in Chicago. I don’t like artificial turf. I don’t like domed stadiums. I don’t like the designated hitter. I really don’t like interleague play and I don’t like Major League baseball being played in Florida after April 1.

However, as a baseball purist who is no fan of Pete Rose, I do support his entrance into the hallowed halls of Cooperstown – the Baseball Hall of Fame.

Pete Rose should be judged, as those who stood before him, on his skills as a baseball player – on his actions of the field of play. If he should be judged for his non-playing ethics or non-playing morals there should be a level playing field and the Hall of Fame would lose some of its best players who by the same token were some of the worst characters.

Babe Ruth, long considered the greatest to play the game, was a drunk and a womanizer. Oftentimes he was publicly belligerent and pugilistic. Ty Cobb was a virulent racist and on the field played with sharpened spikes, sliding intentionally high in order to injure his opponents.

Ruth and Cobb will always be considered two of the greatest to play baseball. If Pete Rose, who broke Cobb’s longstanding record for most base hits in a career, should be denied entrance among the elites, then the Hall ought to be stripped of all those deemed morally bankrupt and ethically corrupt.

I do not condone Rose’s gambling on baseball. His ban from the game should continue. But what of Southern Methodist University’s sentence of the college football death penalty some years ago? Today SMU struggles as an active member of the Western Athletic Conference. Clearly that penalty was not forever. How many chances should drug-using players like former pitcher Steve Howe have been given – suspended and allowed to return to the game numerous times? And Howe’s drug use is a crime.

Pete Rose’s gambling on baseball should not be forgiven or forgotten. It should be a message to those who follow him. But, like those miscreants before him, Rose should be granted his rightful place in Cooperstown where his exploits on the field of play will also never be forgotten.

Sanford D. Horn is a writer and political consultant living in Alexandria, VA.

[This column appeared in The Washington Times.]