ST. LOUIS — I have known Pete Rose most of my adult life. I worked in Lexington, Kentucky for six years. We covered the Reds on a regular basis, and I interviewed him about 20 times.
We were never friends, but he was good with the media. One time we did a three-part series at WLEX-TV on the Rose legacy. Pete had us in his home where we interviewed his then-wife Carol, his son, and later his first wife Karolyn.
I remember, vividly, right before we were going to shoot the interview with Carol, he stopped it and made her put on this diamond necklace he had just purchased.
I liked the way he talked about baseball. I loved his brutal honesty. His pre-game shows on the Reds Radio Network were appointment radio. Perhaps only Whitey Herzog was as candid. He spoke his mind and told you why he couldn’t play a certain player that night. I always thought he was the most truthful person to interview in the business.
That’s why the gambling thing was ironic. He spoke his mind honestly about the game, but he lied about his gambling for decades. The best thing a celebrity can do when they get in trouble is to apologize immediately. If Rose would have done that right away, he would have been in the Hall of Fame a long time ago.
So this week, he petitioned the commissioner to be taken off the ineligible list. He is arguing that the commissioner did nothing to the Astros players during the sign-stealing scandal, also pointing out steroid users are on the ballot. Rose never cheated to get the most hits in baseball history. He did it with hard work and guts. The best thing he ever told me was he may not have been blessed with size, speed, and strength but he was gifted with the blessing of a work ethic.
My take is put him on the ballot. Let the special committee decide. The 400 or so writers won’t be voting on Rose. It would be a special committee of former players, executives, and a few writers too. That is the committee that put Ted Simmons this winter.
Let them decide. He has suffered quite a bit, but not financially. Take him off the ineligible list. I truly believe he still won’t get in. Even some of his own teammates don’t believe he should get in!
Peter Edward Rose is a 78-year-old man who went to the plate more than any player in baseball history. Would it be so wrong to let a committee decide now if he belongs in the Hall of Fame? I don’t think so.