Pete Rose is one of the greatest players to ever play Major League Baseball. He is the all-time leader in hits with 4256. Think about that. 3000 hits is considered a major milestone for a player. Only 27 players have 3000+ hits. Rose has over FOUR THOUSAND hits. Ty Cobb is second, Hank Aaron third, Stan Musial fourth, Tris Speaker fifth, Carl Yastrzemski sixth, Cap Anson seventh, Honus Wagner eighth, Paul Molitor ninth, and Eddie Collins is tenth. That list of names is absolutely astounding. Everyone other one of those guys is in the Hall of Fame. There is no doubt that Pete Rose’s stats are Hall of Fame worthy. The doubt lies in his actions off the field.
Many people try to compare Pete Rose betting on baseball to steroids and that if Rose is inducted into the Hall-of-Fame then Barry Bonds should be as well. However, there is a huge difference between Rose’s actions and Bonds’s. First off, Rose never bet on games he played in. He never threw games and his betting never affected the outcome of games. His conduct certainly violated MLB rules and his lies afterwards hurt his legacy dearly, but Rose never compromised the integrity of the game. That cannot be understated.
Rose’s actions also never enhanced or altered his stats. If Rose hadn’t bet on baseball, he’d still have 4256 hits. His stats do not deserve an asterisk, because he did nothing to make them better. He was an amazing baseball player. His betting on baseball doesn’t change that. How many home runs would Barry Bonds have if he never took steroids? No one can say, because steroids did alter his stats. Whether you believe that steroids do nothing and Bonds would still have 762 home runs or that they helped him immensely and he wouldn’t have even 500 home runs, everyone agrees that no one knows for sure. With Rose however, everyone knows that he has 4256 hits and that he’d have the same number of hits if he hadn’t bet on the sport. His stats are legitimate and should not be devalued by his stupidity off the field.
Hank Aaron agreed, “He belongs there.” MLB players, past and present, recognize his greatness. They also recognize him as a lying cheat. The Hall-of-Fame does not prohibit lying cheats though. The Hall-of-Fame is supposed to show off the best in MLB history. Pete Rose is one of the best in baseball history and a century from now, kids should recognize his greatness and know his name. You don’t have to respect him as a person or respect his actions, but you must respect his stats.
The rumor going around is that Commissioner Bud Selig would remove Rose’s lifetime ban, but with restrictions. He can’t manage. I like that a lot. Rose did knowingly break the rules and he did lie and lie and lie about it. He tarnished his own image and baseball’s image by his actions. He shouldn’t be allowed to re-enter it. At the same time though, he belongs in Cooperstown. He hurt baseball’s image, but never compromised its integrity. Combine that with his incredible stats and Pete Rose deserves to be in the Hall-of-Fame.