By Terry Carter, Editor
Of the many, many Major League Baseball players in history, are you the all-time hits leader? If so, you would be the rarest of the rare ball players, able to hit for average, score runs, hit under pressure and lead a great team to multiple world championships.
Pete Rose is that man. Yet he is allegedly banned for life from entering the MLB Hall of Fame because Rose gambled on the game he played. That ban happened decades ago, and it’s safe to say fans are aware of MLB All-Stars who are in the Hall of Fame despite worse moral and ethical issues involving their careers. Clearly Pete Rose is not a bad man compared to several Hall of Fame baseball players voted in.
But the ban continues to run its course. In my opinion and that of many others, Pete Rose has earned his place in the Major League Hall of Fame. His statistics are unmatched by any hitter of the baseball. He finished with 4,256 hits, including a career .303 batting average, an MVP award in 1973, World Champions with the Cincinnati Reds in 1975, 1976, the most singles all-time and the second-most doubles. Not bad for a slow switch-hitter.
While Major League Baseball cannot seems to recognize the life and times of Peter Edward Rose Sr., others have found a way to honor him. Recently the Cincinnati Reds inducted Rose and others into the Reds Hall of Fame. It was a multi-day event for fans, Rose and the team, worthy of the national parades The Big Red Machine team members received in the 1970s. Hall of Famers like Johnny Bench, Joe Morgan and stellar players like Ken Griffey, Tony Perez, Cesar Geronimo, Dave Concepcion, George Foster and Rose.
I cannot say that Rose was better than Bench – voted the Best Catcher of the 20th Century – and Morgan – a speedy, do-it-all second baseman. But Rose was undoubtedly the best contact hitter ever to play the game. That trio won back-to-back World Championships on a team that was weakest in pitching of all things.
To the MLB officials and commissioner, Rose belongs in the hall. Cincinnati did its best to honor the all-time hit leader. Now get off your butt, read Sports Illustrated, the WSJ and other views on this issue – and get Pete Rose on the ballot where he belongs. Politics is not your forté, commissioner.
I watched many Reds games during their championship seasons. I admired Bench and became a catcher with power and a strong arm like the great Johnny Bench — though never played at that level. I respected Joe Morgan who flapped his wing while hitting, stole bases and turned singles into doubles, scored runs and created rallies regularly.
But as much as that, I learned the most by watching Pete Rose always battle great pitchers, waiting for the right pitch and rifling a single or double. He ran to first base even when he received a walk, earning the title “Charlie Hustle” back in the 1960s. What Pete Rose could do was change the momentum of any contest with his energy. His timely hits won games. His attitude intimidated foes, especially a Met named Bud Harrelson.
The game of baseball belongs to all of us as fans. And we want Pete Rose in the MLB Hall of Fame.