Imagine a world where the all time leader in hits is actually a member of the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York. Pete Rose had a final tally of 4,256 hits. Known as Charlie Hustle, Rose also holds the all time records for games played (3,562), at-bats (14, 053) and outs (10,328). Pete was the Rookie of the Year in 1963 and Most Valuable Player in 1973. The 17-time All-Star also won two Gold Gloves, three batting titles and three World Series'. Pete Rose has achieved absolutely everything that can be achieved in baseball other than his rightful place in the Hall of Fame.
All of the hard work that Charlie Hustle put into the game is starting to pay off. Players have begun to speak out and Bud Selig is starting to listen.
I would certainly like to see him in. He belongs in, really. His career is one that he needs to be right here in the middle of all of this. - Hank Aaron - interview with USA Today
When another Hall of Fame player, especially one as special as Hank Aaron speaks out and says that Pete Rose belongs in the Hall of Fame, people better be listening. Pete Rose has been serving an indefinite lifetime suspension from baseball since he left the game for betting on baseball games. Rose did not cheat the game or himself. Pete began by only betting on other games than his own, until he finally placed a bet on his team to win a game.
I bet on my team to win every night because I love my team, I believe in my team. I did everything in my power every night to win that game. - Pete Rose - interview with ESPN
Where and when is it ever wrong to be confident that your team will win and placing a wager on your confidence? There is absolutely nothing wrong with any person at all waging their own money on themselves, under any circumstances at all. When you're doing everything you can do to win, why is it a problem to have a bet on the side as well. I understand Rose didn't need more money and was far from struggling, but he was the kid of guy that enjoyed that thrill. For a man as competitive as Charlie Hustle, could you really believe he would rather make a few bucks by throwing a game or that he is placing his money on the line to go out and win? Take a step back and really think about it. A man that slides head first to sacrifice himself in order to make the play, that's not the kind of guy thats willing to lose intentionally.
Welcome To Cooperstown, Pete
It doesn't matter what the reason for Pete Rose being reconsidered for the Hall of Fame is. Whether it's due to a lack of other notable players eligible next year, players beginning to emerge from the steroid era or voters beginning to feel unsure as to who does and does not get to be immortalized in Cooperstown. Whatever the case may be, I don't care, Pete Rose was one of the greatest baseball players of all time and regardless of betting on baseball, and idol to many little leaguers all over the world (the reason I slid head first at every base). Pete Rose defined hustle, heart and determination on the baseball field and has the statistics to show it. If and when Commisioner Bud Selig lifts the ban on Pete Rose, it is well deserved for Rose to be in the Hall of Fame immediately.
Thanks to Patrick - msigarmy.com for the photo of the Pete Rose exhibition at the Cincinnati Reds Hall of Fame.