The Baseball Writers Association of America will announce the results of its 2023 Hall of Fame vote Tuesday, followed once again by griping about the 1992 election.
That was the first year Pete Rose was eligible but left off the ballot, which turned Pete into a cause célèbre.
He was one lucky feller that day.
Not being in the Hall of Fame is one of the better things that happened to Pete Rose.
Baseball’s highest honor is the Hall of Fame, yet hardly anyone could name the 1992 inductees. Had Rose entered the Hall, he might have faded into becoming a hood ornament for his hometown Cincinnati Reds long ago.
Instead, old Charlie Hustle has spent three decades introducing and defending himself to fans, many who never say him play.
Mostly, they don’t seem to care that baseball’s career hits leader bet on his team’s games, which violated the one magic rule that will get you banned from the game for life.
So fans keep asking, ”When will Pete Rose get into the Hall of Fame?”
In 2017, a woman recalled she has been a minor when she had sex with Rose. Rose acknowledged this happened in 1973, when he was 32. He said he thought she was 16, the threshold of legal consent in Ohio.
Jerry Lee Lewis might have been able to skate into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame even though he married his 13-year-old first cousin (once removed), but goodness gracious, this is the Baseball Hall of Fame, and it cannot find a ball of fire hot enough to incinerate the inevitable backlash to that sordid story.
The shame is that everyone loves the underdog, and had Rose not been a casualty of his own ego, he would be the best story in the Hall of Fame. He willed himself to become a major league baseball player.
Lennie Merullo played shortstop for the Cubs during the 1940s. He became the Cubs chief major league scout who said of Rose, “I saw him play when he was 17 in 1958. He played second base and hit about .240. He was 5-8 and weighed about 150 pounds.”
Merullo’s scouting report to the Cubs was, “No higher than A ball.”
The scout who took a chance on Rose was Ed Bloebaum, otherwise known as the brother of LaVerne Bloebaum Rose. AKA, Pete’s mom.
That’s right: Baseball’s career hits leader is Pete Rose because his uncle signed Pete, who spent his senior year of high school playing semipro ball because his grades were so poor he was ineligible for the prep team.
That’s the kind of story fans, sportswriters and halls of fame love.
Pete eventually admitted he bet on his Cincinnati Reds, and his supporters like to say he always bet his team to win. What’s wrong with betting on your own lads?
But Pete did bet against his team. He did it by not betting at all.
Rose stopped betting on Reds’ games in 1987, when Bill Gullickson, the pride of Marshall, Minn., was the starting pitcher, which signaled to even the dumbest bookie that Pete thought the Reds were on a one-way ticket to Palookaville that night.
If people want Rose in the Hall, I’m in no position to do anything but tell them that neither Major League Baseball nor the baseball writers are keeping Pete out.
The Baseball Hall of Fame is a private organization. It was started by a clever man to drive people to Cooperstown, N.Y., during the 1930s economic depression. It’s run by a board, not Major League Baseball.
Baseball writers can’t vote for Rose because the Hall of Fame board forbids voting for any player not on the ballot.
The writers could extract themselves from that mess. They could vote Pete in. The Hall would then be faced with not inducting him.
This will never happen, which is good for Pete, who can keep signing autographs on Main Street in Cooperstown during induction week each July and be well-paid to hear people tell him he’s their hero.
So, that’s it. Other than cleaning up one item: Tom Seaver and Rollie Fingers were the 1992 Hall of Fame inductees.
Seaver died of Lewy Body Dementia in 2020.
Fingers and Sam Thompson have the best mustaches in baseball history, and they are both in the Hall.