Monday, July 27, 2009

Hall and Rose 

Funny that, while I'm finishing a post-conference re-write of my old paper on Hall of Fame voting in Major League Baseball (when we get it to the editors, we'll post a link on my research page), I find out Pete Rose might get reinstated and thus could be considered for the Hall. My ex-producer Matt Reynolds called and was livid about this.

I think Buster Olney has it about right (link for Insider subscribers):
When I first saw the story, I was surprised to feel this: total ambivalence.

Rose was an extraordinary player whose passion for success is reflected in his remarkable records: ... He was a great player who holds a unique place in the game's history. This is inarguable.

And so is this: During the past two decades, his behavior has been appalling. He has been nothing less than a lowlife. ...

If he's reinstated, that really doesn't ensure that the Veterans Committee would vote him into the Hall Fame. Undoubtedly, some members of that committee will argue that Rose always has considered himself to be above the rules, and given that, some won't want him in the club.

But quite frankly, Rose's legacy won't be affected one way or another by his inclusion into the Hall of Fame.

If he's honored at Cooperstown, he'll always be a dishonored former star. And he'll sell the moment.

And the rules for HOF voting are quite clear -- it would be the Veterans Committee who would vote on him, as he's been out of baseball more than 20 years (last played in 1986.) At the bottom of this press release (when Joe Gordon was elected by the VC) is a list of all the players who are on that committee. The Committee includes several former teammates of Rose: Bench, Carlton, Morgan, Perez, Schmidt, to name five. Hank Aaron says Rose belongs in the Hall. So it's not inconceivable that he could be put in.

As I remind people during our presentations on HOF voting, the Hall of Fame is a museum with an educational mission. It is ultimately up to its board of directors (which, by the way, includes Joe Morgan) to decide not only if Rose should be enshrined but how. It would be consistent with an educational mission to admit Rose but provide a full context of his career, including his journey into ignominy. Olney's ambivalence could be captured in a good museum display, and people could consider why baseball has rules on betting. It could create a display on the Black Sox perhaps next to Rose's.

I rather hope it does. It would be good practice for the coming storm over Barry Bonds.

Agree or disagree? You could comment to me, or you could write to the Veterans Committee yourself here, or by regular mail to Hall of Fame Veterans Committee, 25 Main Street, Cooperstown, NY 13326.

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