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Mike Schmidt: Time to answer the Rose question

Published on NewsOK Modified: August 24, 2014 at 2:29 pm •  Published: August 24, 2014
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I received numerous phone requests over the last few days to comment on the 25th anniversary of Pete Rose's banishment from baseball.

Seems like only yesterday, rather than 15 years ago, when I met Pete in Milwaukee for his famous "confession" talk with Commissioner Selig.

Following Pete's apologetic admittance to gambling after 14 years of denial, Commissioner Selig seemed in a cooperative and forgiving mood, actually helping to map out an itinerary for Pete's possible reinstatement.

Over the following few months, things went sour, as did the commissioner's attitude.

Pete's penchant for bad decisions and relationships, plus a need for money, caused a premature book release in New York, which conflicted with the Hall of Fame election news conference. This was a direct hit to baseball and couldn't have come at a worse time for Pete.

Commissioner Selig never returned to this issue with the same attitude he had that day in Milwaukee, and the Rose case file hasn't been opened since.

This anniversary does bring light to some points relevant for discussion, possibly for the final time. Pete is 73 years old and getting close to the age where it will be hard for him to enjoy the fruits of baseball's forgiveness, if it ever happens.

Yes, Pete finally admitted to betting on the Reds. But never bet on them to lose a game, so forget the idea that he may have altered the outcome of a game with managerial decisions.

Part of his path to reinstatement called for him to clean up his life by eliminating gambling, staying clear of that environment, and working to become a model citizen.

For sure, in the minds of the baseball hierarchy, that has been a stumbling block.

The final and most important point for discussion, related to this 25th anniversary, is the retirement of Commissioner Selig, the takeover of Rob Manfred and the possibility that the Pete Rose issue could be revisited.

Some food for thought on these points:

I remember it like yesterday, growing up in Dayton and having the poster of Pete as a Reds rookie on the back of my grandmother's bedroom door. It was there so she could tailor my Little League uniform to look exactly like his.

He was Charlie Hustle, the guy who ran to first base on walks, who ignited the Reds' offense, and infuriated the opponents with his style of play.

Did we know then that he'd stroke 4,256 hits, set numerous records and lead two franchises to World Series championships? God knows how many other adjectives could apply to his Hall of Fame playing career. It was his short managerial career that brought him down.

With 25 years of his sentence gone by, isn't it time for a parole hearing? This wasn't a capital crime. He placed a couple bets on his team, but never altered a game's outcome.

Yes, this is a crime against baseball. But to make him an example as if he were some sort of criminal, or menace to society, is ridiculous.

Sure, there have been other personal issues with Pete's open-book life of which he is not proud. But he's 73 now, and at least his case should be re-examined for the sake of closure.

For those who'd say Pete's gambling indiscretion is no worse than players being caught using PEDs, you're not far off. It's in the eye of the beholder.

Commissioner Selig saw it as a very serious crime against baseball that went directly to the heart of the game. He believes Pete broke the most sacred rule — players are warned about the gambling rule each spring, and there's a sign on the clubhouse door that reminds them every day during the season.

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