This morning I read at Fox Sports.com that the new MLB commissioner Rob Manfred is willing to open the door of Cooperstown for Pete Rose. Normally Pete Rose would have been a fix for the Hall of Fame, but in his role as manager of the Cincinnati Reds, he bet on games in which his team was involved, a no-no in professional sports. No evidence was discovered that Rose bet against the Reds, but investigator Dowd stated in a December 2002 interview that he believed Rose probably bet against the Reds while managing them.
Rose is a career .303 hitter and holds the all time records for basehits with 4,256, games played with 3,562 and at bats with 14,053.
My first thought was “Great. Despite of what he did, he deserves a plaque in the HOF.”
But if Rose’s ban will be lifted, there are other players as well that deserve to be in the Hall of Fame. The first that comes to my mind is Joe Jackson; no not the singer but “Shoeless”.
Every baseball fan knows the story of the Black Sox scandal in 1919/1920. The Chicago White Sox played the Cincinnati Reds in the 1919 World Series. Prior to the World Series a group of players discussed a possibility to throw the World Series for money because they hated White Sox owner Charles Comiskey for his cheapness. Comiskey owned one of the top teams in the Majors but underpaid his players heavily. The legend that surrounds the Black Sox scandal says that Comiskey ordered manager Kid Gleason to bench pitcher Eddie Cicotte for 5 games, denying him a chance at a 30-win season and the bonus money that he would get if he would reach that milestone.
Next to Cicotte, “Swede” Risberg, Oscar “Happy” Felsch, “Chick” Gandil, Claude “Lefty” Williams and “Shoeless” Joe Jackson were involved in this fix, though Jackson’s involvement is still disputed. It was claimed that he muffed balls hit to him in left field (all triples) but the stats show that no triple was hit into his direction. In fact he hit a remarkable .375, made no errors and even threw a runner out at the plate. Not stats of a fixer IMO.
The Cincinnati Reds went on to win the World Series and only the next season the fix became apparent. A grand jury was installed and investigated the case. In 1921 the verdict of not guilty on all charges was acquitted. But the newly installed (first) commissioner of baseball Judge Kenesaw Mountain Landis was quick to accuse all players and banned them from baseball for life. This also means that they still cannot be elected into the HOF.
So if Pete Rose will be released from his ban, why not these players? Sure, most of them did accept money from gamblers to lose the 1919 World Series, also a no-no in professional sports. As a counter point you can say that Rose betted against his own team but never deliberately mismanaged. Maybe you’re right, but he also did something inexcusable.
Don’t get me wrong. I certainly think that Rose should get a plaque in Cooperstown. But if his ban will be lifted, at least Joe Jackson should get a shot to be voted into the HOF as well.
Just my two cents.