Some more evidence from Richard Justice's column that Pete Rose badly miscalculated with his non-contrite admission of gambling on baseball after so many years of denial.
The Chicago Tribune surveyed 159 Hall of Fame voters, and only 45.3 percent of them said they would vote for Pete Rose if his name was placed on the ballot. That's far short of the 75 percent required for induction.
"Absolutely not," said Jerome Holtzman, the former esteemed Chicago baseball writer who serves as Major League Baseballs official historian. "I was against the idea from the very beginning.
"As you can see now, he wasn't a very admirable fellow."
ESPN's Peter Gammons put it even more bluntly.
"The release of this book has reminded me that Pete Rose does not like baseball; he likes himself," Gammons told the Tribune.
Rose did about the same in the highly unscientific sample of fans who write letters to the sports page. The tally was four in favor of Rose' reinstatement and three against. I need to take issue with one of the no-Hall-for-Pete advocates:
Rose was a career .280s hitter with no power and little speed. He bounced around from position to position throughout his career and distinguished himself defensively at none of them. He was a member of a great Cincinnati team and undoubtedly made a contribution to that team's success, but he was surrounded by much greater players than himself -- Johnny Bench, Joe Morgan, George Foster, etc. His career hits record is strictly a product of longevity.
There has been a steady erosion in the quality of player inducted into the Hall over the last 20 years or so. Pitchers like Phil Niekro and Gaylord Perry were notable for their longevity only and have no place with the likes of Sandy Koufax and Warren Spahn. Robin Yount and Paul Molitor were good players, but do such players belong alongside Stan Musial, Ted Williams, Mickey Mantle, Henry Aaron and the other true greats?
As for the claim in the latter paragraph that the quality of the Hall has degraded over the last 20 years, this is standard things-were-better-in-my-day claptrap. Looking at the list of inductees, in my opinion there have been exactly two marginal players voted in by the writers since 1984 - Don Drysdale and Tony Perez. (The last one before that is Red Ruffing in 1967.) It's also incorrect to characterize the Hall of Fame as being about "Stan Musial, Ted Williams, Mickey Mantle, Henry Aaron" and players like that, for the Hall is just as much about the likes of Rube Marquard, Ross Youngs, Frank Chance, Jim Bottomley, and Dave Bancroft. Yount, Molitor, Niekro and Perry may not be the best players ever enshrined, but they are nowhere close to the worst.
Last but not least, anyone who thinks George Foster (!) was a "much greater player" than Pete Rose has been sniffing a little too much pine tar. Foster did have a great run from 1975 to 1981, but he was washed up at age 33 and didn't actually have his best seasons until after the Big Red Machine had been knocked off its NL West perch.
Getting back to Rose, the final nail in his coffin may come from the man whose report on his rulebreaking activities helped put him in the position he's in today. Read this editorial from John Dowd and see for yourself.
After a month of investigation, I had all the evidence now memorialized in my 225-page report. The evidence was overwhelming. He had violated one of baseball's most sacred rules -- rules meant to preserve the integrity of the game, rules intended to assure its fans that the competition on the field is free of taint. I shared all the facts with Rose's lawyers. Then Bart directed me to lay out the evidence directly to Rose in a deposition. Bart wanted Pete to see and hear all of the hard evidence. Bart instructed me not to confront Pete, but simply to present the evidence and get his responses to it. Pete lied and denied. It was a hard two days for Pete Rose.
Following the deposition, with the facts in hand, Bart directed me to find a resolution. I spent an entire month meeting with Pete's lawyers. Bart and I agreed on the fundamental points of such a resolution: Pete would have to reconfigure his life. He would have to stop betting. He would have to make a candid response to all of the hard evidence. He would have to explain his association with all of the characters in the betting operation. He would have to submit to, and complete, a full rehabilitation. During his rehabilitation, he would be removed from the game of baseball.
If he had agreed to these terms, and paid all taxes, interest and penalties due, he could have avoided prosecution on tax evasion. Upon successful completion of his rehabilitation, he would have been readmitted to the game of baseball and could receive all honors that come with achievement and good conduct. He would have been eligible, if chosen, for admission to the Hall of Fame.
I worked for a month with Pete's counsel. They tried but could not get Pete to admit the truth. They asked if I would meet with him alone and talk to him. They believed I could bring him around. Bart approved and I agreed to talk to Pete. But Pete's agent vetoed the meeting.
We were at complete loggerheads. Pete's criminal counsel wanted the resolution we were working on, but his agent would not budge. Bart, then-deputy commissioner Fay Vincent and I met with Pete's agent. He told us that Pete was a legend and would not admit to any of the allegations. It was a short meeting. I then asked Bill White, the president of the National League, if there were friends of Pete's -- Reds teammates -- we could call upon to help him in his obvious time of need. Bill told me that Pete had no friends in baseball.