It’s time for the MLB to forgive Pete Rose

Ray Bressette

The MLB is less than two weeks from opening day of the 2015 season, the first of which will be under newly appointed commissioner Rob Manfred.   

While Manfred has had his hands full through his first two months as commissioner, from changes to the league such as timed batter’s box rules to the controversial return of Alex Rodriguez, there’s one change that is long overdue in baseball that Manfred is facing the opportunity to overturn: the suspension of Pete Rose from baseball.

Rose applied on March 16 to Manfred to have his name taken off the league’s permanently banned list, hoping to persuade the commissioner to end his 26-year suspension for gambling.

Pete Rose played in the MLB from 1963-86 when he became one of the greatest players in the history of the game.

Rose is baseball’s all time hits leader with 4,256 hits, and throughout his 23-year career Rose was named to 17 All-Star games, named National League Rookie of the Year, earned three National League batting championships and a World Series MVP. Rose won the World Series three times in his career, twice with the Cincinnati Reds (1975-76) and once with the Philadelphia Phillies (1980). Rose managed the Reds from 1984-89, with the first three years as a player-manager. Over the years, Rose was even deemed the nickname “Charlie Hustle” for his gritty play and dedication, and his career alone would make him a shoo-in for the baseball hall of fame.

But Rose’s legacy has been tarnished by the gambling scandal that ended his baseball career. A lawyer by the name of John Dowd was hired by then MLB commissioner Bart Giamatti to investigate claims Rose was betting on games he was managing.

According to Dowd’s findings in his document titled The Dowd Report,  “Pete Rose bet on Major League baseball games in 1985, 1986 and 1987, including games played by the Cincinnati Reds while Pete Rose was both a player and manager…Rose’s winnings occurred near the beginning of the baseball seasons when Cincinnati was winning a lot of games.”     While Dowd’s findings showed that Rose bet on Reds games saying his team would win, there was never any evidence shown that Rose bet against his team, which would have potentially meant Rose was changing the outcome of games with his managing.

After Dowd’s findings, Rose agreed to a suspension from baseball with Giamatti in 1989, with the impression that he could return to the game one year later after applying for reinstatement.

However, Charlie Hustle has been hustled by MLB for three decades since, with Giamatti and his successor, Bud Selig, denying his repeated applications for reinstatement.

During that time, a number of big name players such as Ryan Braun, David Ortiz, Barry Bonds, Alex Rodriguez and many others have been caught using steroids to enhance their performance, a form of cheating that can actually change the outcome of the game. Players such as Michael Pineda of the Yankees and George Brett of the Kansas City Royals have been ejected from ball games for the use of pine tar, giving them illegal advantages with batting and pitching.

In August 2013, the MLB suspended 13 players who were revealed to have purchased performance enhancing drugs, and according to, there have been 53 players suspended for steroids dating back to 2005.

Yet with all the incidents of cheating that have surfaced over the years, no player has ever been suspended longer 211 games, which Rodriguez was handed during the 2013-14 seasons.

Rose sits by himself today as the only living member on baseball’s list of banned players for actions that had no evidence of cheating. The league has continued to see gambling on a game as a deeper sin than actually cheating a game.

Gambling on baseball games is wrong, especially when you are a part of the game, let alone the manager of one of the teams. Rose deserved to be punished for his actions in the 1980s, whether it be a fine or a suspension.

But a lifetime ban for one of the game’s greats who did not even bet against his team or throw games is just as wrong, especially when those who do cheat the game continue to play the game or stand eligible for a hall of fame vote.

Now, 56-year-old Manfred has the opportunity to correct baseball’s wrongdoings of the past 26 years. Manfred is younger than the 80-year-old Selig he is replacing and should be able to better understand the true problems the game of baseball is facing today. It’s time for baseball to stop cheating Rose out of an opportunity at the hall of fame where he belongs, and put baseball’s morals in place.