Pete Rose will partake in All-Star Game festivities next week in Cincinnati. In fact, he’ll be honored on the field with Joe Morgan, Johnny Bench and Barry Larkin.
And yet, Rose, 74, remains on baseball’s permanently ineligible list, his shot at getting into the Hall of Fame growing dimmer by the day.
“Let me tell you: I loved Pete Rose, and I loved what he stood for and I loved the way he played the game,” Hall of Famer Goose Gossage said on CBS Sports Radio’s Tiki and Tierney. “There isn’t an argument that Pete doesn’t belong in the Hall of Fame, but he broke the cardinal rule that we learned as young players – and it was instilled in me. I remember the first day that I turned professional, (I was told), ‘Do not gamble on the game, or you will be suspended for life.’ That resonated in me. Every time you walk into a Major League clubhouse, there is a sign that covers a whole wall or door or whatever that (tells you that you cannot) gamble on the game.
“If you really stop and think about it, there’s only one thing that will ruin baseball and integrity of the game – and that is gambling,” Gossage continued. “We can go out and we can commit murder, but (that’s) going to ruin our (lives); it’s not going to ruin baseball. If we thought the game was being manipulated by gambling, what would it mean? And I love Pete Rose. I was just with Pete up in Vail, Colorado, at (an event), and we spoke to 350 people on this same subject. I think Pete thought he was bigger than the game, and I think there’s more to the story than we will ever know about Pete’s gambling.”
Rose has been banned from baseball for more than a quarter of a century.
“An old man told me an interesting thing one time,” Gossage recalled. “He said, ‘You know, Goose, there’s a paddle for everyone’s butt.’ I think the Hall of Fame is the paddle for Pete’s butt. It’s just unfortunate.”
Gossage was asked how fellow Hall of Famers would react if Rose were ever enshrined in Cooperstown.
“I think a vast majority of the players would not agree with that – because the integrity of the game is at stake here,” Gossage said. “If we let Pete into the Hall of Fame (even though) he gambled, the horse is out of the barn and what’s it going to mean? Like I said, the only paddle left for Pete’s ass is an induction into the Hall of Fame. As I said, I love Pete Rose, and it’s only a formality that he was one of the greatest players to ever put on a uniform. But the gambling thing got in his way.
“I think he thought he was bigger than the game, and no one is bigger than the game,” Gossage continued. “I think that Pete has to be used as an example that it’s not going to be tolerated. Gambling is not going to be tolerated. Like it or not, Pete is an example and being used as an example – and he brought all this on himself.”