I’ve said it many, many times- Pete Rose belongs in the Hall-of-Fame, both because he was the baseball player his fans say he was, and because the Hall-of-Fame is not what many of his detractors claim it is. Rose, Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Sammy Sosa, and Mark McGwire all belong in the building. So does reputed dirt bag Curt Schilling. They all belong, just like Ty Cobb, Babe Ruth, “Shoeless” Joe Jackson, Mickey Mantle, and every other flawed person already in. The Hall is a museum, nothing more. It’s a building with walls of plaques telling us the history of a sport. It is not sacred ground. It is not a church. If you can’t tell the history of baseball without a player, they need to be the Hall, period. Pete Rose is the greatest hitter of all-time. He was the star of an iconic team in Cincinnati. He is the reason Philadelphia broke a 97 year curse. Rose belongs in the Hall, even if he deserves to be banned from any active role in MLB. If you want to chastise his bad behavior on his plaque, go ahead. That’s far better than a childish attempt to cancel him out of our history.
Now, there is an entirely different story of rather we should want Rose around anymore. Acknowledging he’s been a part of the game isn’t the same as inviting him to your alumni weekend to be a part of the franchise today. That’s even more true if you’re the franchise that canceled his Wall-of-Fame celebration five years ago amidst revelations that Rose had an illegal relationship with a 14 year old girl 50 years ago as a married ball player. The Phillies said that was a line too far for them five years ago, and not many people seemed upset with them for it. Then they invited him this year to celebrate with his 1980 teammates on the field. Predictably, Rose made them look bad for it.
Alex Coffey is a first year Phillies writer for the Philadelphia Inquirer. Pete Rose was made available to the press and she asked him a fairly obvious question he had never answered, one deemed relevant by the Phillies cancelation of his honoring five years ago. “What would you say to those who say your presence here sends a negative message to women?” Pete said exactly what you’d expect Pete to say.
As I said above, I’m not much of a fan of canceling people. And Pete Rose gave you exactly the response you’d expect. He dismissed the question, which he’s allowed to do, he’s not under any obligation to answer something he doesn’t wish to. He dismissed the questioner though too, which he’s just not. neither is shocking. In the 55 years since the affair, in the 38 years since he left Philly, in the 33 years since he was banned from baseball, in the 32 years since he did time, in the five years since this came out, Pete Rose never showed any signs of contrition for his mistakes, he never showed even one iota of growth. More than anything, that’s what’s telling, Pete is still the guy who broke the rules and broke the laws, he is unchanged by time. That’s also why baseball won’t let him in the Hall, or really anywhere near the game. Here he had a chance to show that maybe he is now a harmless old 80-something now that we should honor before he dies. He predictably failed that opportunity in a condescending, disappointing way. If he just didn’t want to answer the question, he easily could have said that without being offensive. He was, of course, still offensive. And so don’t expect any change in status soon for Pete.
Of course, I don’t blame a scorpion for being a scorpion. The blame here falls on the Phillies, who invited Rose back, reversing their own stance on him, then made him available to the media to overshadow the whole day. No one can argue that Rose wasn’t the missing piece that got them to their first championship, but I think it’s clear there’s an argument that maybe he’s just not up to being around civilized people. What exactly did the team think he would say under questioning from reporters, representing the franchise? Was Pete Rose finally going to show some growth after his 80th birthday? Of course not. We knew it. They knew it. At a minimum they could have not made him available to the press. In reality they could have simply held to their 2017 line. Instead they let Pete be Pete. I think it’s clear where the blame belongs.