As I walked through the hallowed halls in the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 2012 the eerie feeling of forgetting something came over me.
Rather than forgetting something, it was someone. The greatest baseball player to ever dig into a batter’s box is not allowed to step into the hall of fame.
Pete Rose was a major league baseball player and manager for 26 years. While playing Rose earned the nickname Charlie Hustle for the hustle he showed on every play whether it was important or not.
At the age of 22, Rose was called up to the Bigs and stepped into the box for the first time marking the beginning to a historical career.
In his rookie season, Rose won Rookie of the Year. As years went on awards kept coming. Rose ended up with three World Series rings, three batting titles, two gold gloves, one Most Valuable Player award, and 17 All-Star Game appearances at five different positions. He’s also the owner of four career records that may never be touched: most games played, most plate appearances, most at-bats, and most hits.
Without a doubt, the stats are there for a hall of fame career. Along with the numbers came a larger than life personality that was sometimes hard to control.
In Rose’s days of being a player-manager, acquisitions rose about him gambling on baseball. Investigations found that Rose was guilty of the crimes. In August 1989, Commissioner A. Bartlett Giamatti made Pete Rose permanently ineligible from baseball.
Rose denied claims until recently when he said that the bets were never placed against his team.
“I bet on the game of baseball and I bet on my team,” Rose said. “Even the mistakes I made, I have to take a different look at someone betting against their own team…that’s throwing the game.”
Confidence sometimes got the best of Rose whether it was getting thrown out trying to stretch a single to a double, or betting on himself to get a win, the man loved to win. He had a love for the game that was unmatched by any player.
“ I never gave up as a player, and I won’t give up as someone who wants to go to the Hall of Fame,” Rose said, “It’s the ultimate goal for a baseball player or a football player or a basketball player.”
As a testament to his heart and grit, Rose says that he would go to great lengths just to be around the sport that he loves.
“I’d walk through hell in a gasoline suit to play baseball,” Rose said.
The question I ask myself is “why?” Why would a man with achievements so unheard to be banned from the sport that he helped? The hall of fame isn’t about off the field behavior. There are plenty of players with great off-field reputations whose numbers will never even get close to qualifying for the Hall.
“If somebody is gracious enough to give me a second chance, I won’t need a third,” Rose said.
The worst part about the situation is Rose will never see himself in the hall of fame. Since he is banned for life, as soon as Rose croaks you’ll see his name inside the Hall. Rose has said that he owes everything to the sport of baseball, but yet he’s still in debt.