Pete Rose Says Hopes Of Reinstatement And Cooperstown Plaque Have Greatly Diminished

Baseball’s all-time career hits leader turns 82 in April, and this year marks nearly three and a half decades since the late baseball commissioner Bart Giamatti placed Pete Rose on the permanently ineligible list for violating Major League Rule 21: gambling on America’s pastime.

While Rose finally admitted in his 2004 book — “My Prison Without Bars” — that he bet on baseball games when he was a player and manager of the Cincinnati Reds, and although he has subsequently apologized for his baseball sins numerous times, Charlie Hustle’s lifetime ban is still in place. Rose sent a letter to current commissioner Rob Manfred in November and once again requested he be reinstated.

But even with a recent boost of support from Hall of Famer Rod Carew — who asked in a tweet earlier this month, “How can you keep Rose out” of baseball “and have a sportsbook at the Reds stadium??” — Rose seems resigned to never joining the sport’s immortals, like Carew, in Cooperstown.

“Hell, if Willie Mays or Hank Aaron, who’s gone now, or (the late) Stan Musial, who I played against, if any of those guys said the same thing that Rodney (Carew) said, I don’t think baseball’s gonna move on that,” Rose said in a recent phone interview. “To be honest with you, I’ve kind of given up on the Hall of Fame. I’ve been turned down so many times, I can’t see Mr. Manfred changing his mind.”

In Rose’s November letter to the commissioner, the hit king asked for Manfred’s “forgiveness,” and wrote that it is “my dream to be considered for the Hall of Fame.”

Manfred addressed Rose’s letter with reporters that same month and said that “from Major League Baseball’s perspective,” Rose belongs on the permanently ineligible list for committing the sport’s cardinal sin of betting on games. Manfred had previously denied Rose’s request for reinstatement in December 2015.

“When I dealt with the issue, the last time (Rose) applied for reinstatement, I made clear that I didn’t think that the function of that baseball (permanently ineligible) list was the same as the eligibility criteria for the Hall of Fame,” Manfred told reporters in November. “That remains my position. I think it’s a conversation that really belongs in the Hall of Fame board. I’m on that board, and it’s just not appropriate for me to get in front of that conversation.”

In 2017, the Baseball Hall of Fame board of directors voted in favor of keeping in place the rule that prevents individuals on the permanently ineligible list from being considered by baseball writers for election to Cooperstown. That means until Rose is reinstated, his Hall of Fame dreams will remain just that — dreams.

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“I’m the one that screwed up and if (Manfred and MLB) ever decide to give me a second chance, I’d be with open arms understanding,” said Rose. “Baseball has made up their mind on me. I could tell them I’m going to die tomorrow and they wouldn’t change their mind.

“I’ve been suspended over 30 years. That’s a long time to be suspended for betting on your own team to win,” Rose added. “And I was wrong. But that mistake was made. Time usually heals everything. It seems like it does in baseball, except when you talk about the Pete Rose case.”

Carew’s tweets defending Rose were in response to another Twitter user who had asked what the social media public thinks about sports gambling. Carew, 77, said the booming business of sports wagering, and MLB’s business partnerships with sportsbooks like BetMGM, “has gone too far and it’s hypocritical.”

“If they can embrace gambling to the level of putting it in the stadium they can forgive Pete and recognize him for the Great he is. That’s the point,” Carew tweeted Feb. 1.

BetMGM already has a sportsbook at Nationals Park in Washington D.C. and will debut another at Great American Ball Park in Cincinnati starting this year.

“I always had a lot of respect for Rodney,” said Rose. “He’s a hell of a player, hell of a hitter. Any time you get guys like that in your corner, it can’t hurt. It’s got to help. I think deep down, Rob Manfred is a great guy. He’s gonna do what’s best for the game of baseball. I see no reason why reinstating me would be bad for the game of baseball.”

Manfred said in his 2015 decision that Rose “has not presented credible evidence of a reconfigured life either by an honest acceptance by him of his wrongdoing… or by a rigorous, self-aware and sustained program of avoidance by him of all the circumstances that led to his permanent ineligibility in 1989.”

Rose is part of an ignominious — and very small — group of individuals on baseball’s permanently ineligible list, but earlier this year, one of those men had his lifetime ban lifted.

John Coppolella, the former Atlanta Braves general manager, received baseball’s equivalent of a death sentence in 2017 for violating rules on signing international amateur prospects. But Manfred reinstated Coppolella in January and the league cited “the contrition (Coppolella) expressed and the other steps he took in response to this matter.”

“I’m happy for (Coppolella). I’m happy for anybody that (messes) up, and someone goes out of their way to give them a second chance,” said Rose, who compiled 4,256 hits during a 24-year playing career with the Reds, Phillies and Expos. “We live in a country that gives you second chances. And believe me when I tell you, I won’t need a third. I won’t need a third chance.

“There may come a day when Rob Manfred takes a hard look and says, ‘Hey, maybe I should give this guy a second chance,’” Rose continued. “You gotta understand that everywhere I go, my name is synonymous with the game of baseball because of all the records I have. I didn’t do steroids and stuff like that. I bet on my own team to win. That’s what I did.

“And I was wrong.”