Pete Rose got a lifetime ban from baseball on August 23, 1989.
Nicknamed “Charlie Hustle,” Pete played for the Cincinnati Reds and won Rookie of the Year, MVP, two Gold Gloves, and three World Series rings.
Needless to say, he was one of the greats.
That fact is even more valid today, despite the infamy that follows his name.
In this post, I’ll go over his well-known scandal. But I’ll also include five key facts about it that you may not know.
Rose was booted from the game for gambling on baseball and even betting on his own Reds.
Regardless of Rose’s enormous no-nos on a plethora of MLB rules, a large group of baseball fans believe the all-time hits leader should be reinstated and allowed his rightful place in the Hall of Fame.
The Hall of Fame added a stipulation in 1990 that, to be considered for induction, a player could not be on baseball’s ineligible list. This put Pete on the outside, looking in.
Love him or hate him, it’s hard to ignore 4256 career hits, which is more than any other player in MLB history. It goes past the hits, though.
Here are some of the most impressive “Charlie Hustle” highlights:
That’s a Hall of Fame-worthy career without question.
But it is what Rose’s extracurricular activities have ultimately kept him out of baseball and out of the Hall of Fame.
Charlie Hustle may be considered the best overall player in baseball history by many experts. Still, he has left a significant black mark on his career.
After allegations began to surface of Rose’s betting on baseball, he exhaustingly denied any such claims against him. For 15 years, Pete stood his ground in the face of overwhelming evidence to the contrary.
Finally, after 15 years, Pete Rose accepted the truth and admitted to betting on baseball while managing the Cincinnati Reds.
Yet Rose remained steadfast to the claim that he had never gambled on baseball as a player. He held on to that assertion until unequivocal proof was brought to light that Rose had bet on baseball while playing.
It turns out that while Charlie Hustle was racking up hit after hit, he was also betting every day. That’s a lot of action for anybody.
Rose was undoubtedly betting on baseball while playing. The evidence makes this clear. He was even betting on his own team. That, at best, is in poor form, no doubt.
To this day, Pete claims he never bet against his team, and to date, there’s not a shred of evidence to the contrary. The all-time hit king is still battling for his reinstatement. Pete doesn’t plan to make some fairytale comeback as a manager or front office employee.
Pete Rose wants more than anything to be in the Hall of Fame.
Today, I am going to give you an inside look at five key facts surrounding the scandal. You’ll then be better positioned to decide for yourself if Pete Rose belongs in the Hall of Fame.
Following an MLB investigation, Commissioner Bart Giamatti made a statement in which he announced the all-time hits leader was banned for betting on baseball.
Giamatti noted that the lifetime ban of Rose was the end of a sad era in baseball. The stain that Pete left on the game had to be met with severe consequences.
Despite Giamatti handing out the harshest penalty, he is credited for mediating an agreement that brought a close to the scandal. Rose was allowed to voluntarily step away from the sport in exchange for avoiding further punishment.
Bart Giamatti died of a heart attack eight days after handing out his decision on Pete Rose. He served only 154 days as commissioner. Giamatti’s decision on Rose has been held up by every MLB commissioner since his passing.
If the name John Dowd sounds familiar, it’s for a good reason. Dowd is a high-profile lawyer with ties to the late Senator John McCain, and he was a defense attorney for a Major General during the Iran Contra affair, and most recently was a personal attorney to President Donald Trump amidst the probe involving Russian collusion.
Dowd made it his mission to prove that Rose had bet on baseball. Dowd would be the last person I’d want to investigate if I were in Rose’s cleats.
Dowd discovered that Pete Rose was betting on not only baseball but on he bet on other sports like basketball, hockey, and football. He also found that Pete was betting close to $2,000 a game.
The investigation also uncovered that Rose had lost close to $70k in one month and was regularly in the hole to bookies. At one point, Rose was in debt more than $200,000 to one bookie.
Dowd presented over 225 pages along with seven volumes of exhibits to the commissioner in May of 1989. These exhibits included bank records, telephone records, bookie’s betting records, and interviews of key witnesses and Rose himself.
The damning case against Rose was overwhelming and genuinely forced Major League Baseball to respond swiftly and absolutely.
In over half a century, the first man to be banned from the game of baseball holds more MLB records than anyone to ever play the game.
Pete Rose departed baseball as the all-time leader in hits, at-bats, outs, and games played. Pete amassed 4,256 hits during his 14,053 at-bats. Both are MLB records. He also accrued 10,328 outs in the 3,562 games he played, another two records.
Rose was an explosive player. He sits alone as the one player in Major League Baseball to play over 500 games at five different positions. Rose was likely a first-ballot lock for the HoF. However, it looks like he may never see Coopertown.
Rose voluntarily accepted his place on baseball’s permanently ineligible list. However, he has time and again denied many of the charges against him.
Many critics have pointed out that Rose has done little if nothing to fight the charges against him. The rules allowed Rose to apply for reinstatement after only one year. Still, he didn’t ask for the reinstatement until 1992 and again in 1997.
Many have pointed out that if Pete were innocent, it wouldn’t behoove him to remain lock-jawed on the matter and simply walk away from the sport. Remember that he accepted the ban on baseball voluntarily.
Subsequent pleas by Rose to be back on the inside with MLB have fallen on deaf ears. Commissioners Vincent and Selig simply ignored Rose’s request. Current commissioner Rob Manfred has faced a bevy of scandals far more pressing than Rose.
In 2004, Rose finally came clean and admitted to betting on baseball. When he finally acknowledged his part, he noted that he bet with no understanding of how harsh the penalty would be.
Of course, in classic Pete Rose fashion, he placed his foot in his mouth, mentioning that he didn’t think he’d be caught. Rose’s flippant attitude towards the severity of his transgressions has done little to sway the public or MLB in his favor.
Many have likened Rose’s admission and apology to a convict pleading for leniency or a commuted sentence, implying that there is little remorse for the actions yet much regret of the consequences.
MLB’s rules clearly forbid any umpire, team employee, league official, or player from placing bets on any game they connect to. The Pete Rose scandal remains one of baseball’s most significant controversies.
The public seems to be split on whether Rose should be allowed back into the great game. No matter which side of the decision to ban Pete Rose you’re on, he’s one of the best to ever play the game.
To date, Rose’s lifetime ban from baseball has been upheld. This is an unfortunate end to the legacy of one of baseball’s greatest players.
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