You are one of the best players of all time in baseball. You hold the all-time record for hits. You transcended your position. You played the game with the kind of intensity managers and owners only wish were present in some of today’s athletes.
Then, all of a sudden, you make a mistake. It’s a terrible one, but one that you regret when you look back. You bet on some of the games you were a part of as a manager.
Does such a prominent player, a player who influenced how the game was played and viewed by fans, deserve a lifelong ban from the sport he loves?
That was the punishment imposed on former Cincinnati Reds catcher and manager Pete Rose.
Despite all of his accomplishments, and his part in advancing baseball, in 1989 Rose was banished from the game he played all of his life, for the rest of his life by then-baseball commissioner Bart Giamatti. Giamatti claimed that he had evidence that Rose bet on baseball in general and his team in particular, accumulating enormous debts in the process.
By allegedly betting on baseball while still a part of the game, Rose violated Rule 21(d) of Major League Baseball’s Code of Conduct. Although he accepted the verdict, he and Giamatti signed a document stating that Rose neither admitted nor denied the accusations against him, according to an article from CNNSI, published in 1999.
Fourteen years later, current commissioner Bud Selig is considering reinstating Rose. But, of course, there is a stipulation, as is Selig’s trademark.
Selig has said that, in order for Rose to be allowed back, he has to first admit that he bet on games, which he had not openly done to this day. Secondly, he as to apologize for his actions. The evidence against Rose, as presented by Giamatti in 1989 was compelling, although there were two things worth noting. First, there was no evidence showing that he ever bet against his team, which is a big deal. Second, there was no definitive evidence proving that he actually betted.
I do believe he bet on baseball, but the point is that in any court of law, if there is no definitive evidence, then the jury can’t find the accused guilty.
Although I feel Selig’s reasons for this action may be to raise the declining interest level of baseball and to enhance his own self-image, the fact that Rose is finally getting serious consideration for reinstatement is justice being served.
Kevin Fair, 20, is a sophomore newspaper journalism student from Pompano Beach, Fla. He is assistant sports editor for The Famuan. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.