By Natalie Serafini, Editor-in-Chief
Peter Rose didn’t smell quite as sweet after being accused of gambling in sports—and the stench has followed him for 25 years. Rose was banned from baseball in what has been lauded one of the most controversial bans in the league. Recently, many have been writing about the astounding length of Rose’s ban, questioning whether the baseball great should be reinstated and recognized for his more upstanding achievements.
For those who don’t know, back in 1989, an investigation revealed that Rose had gambled extensively, including betting on his team. Commissioner Bartlett Giamatti clarified in a statement that, “One of the game’s greatest players has engaged in a variety of acts which have stained the game, and he must now live with the consequences of those acts.”
The Dowd Report, compiled by lawyer John M. Dowd, showed that Rose lost more than $67,000 in a single month, and at one point owed $200,000 to a bookie.
For years, the banned baller maintained his innocence—despite not fighting the charges—until an admission in 2004. He said, “You don’t think you’re going to get caught. I think what happens is you’re, at the time, you’re betting football and then, then what’s after football is basketball and obviously the next thing that follows is baseball. It’s just a pattern that you got into.”
Ok, so Rose denied any culpability for a long time, not really acknowledging the charges for 15 years. It’s now been 25 years, during which time he’s accepted his ban and confessed to what he did. I know he hasn’t died yet, allowing for his ban to end following the lifetime “regulations,” but bro is now 73 years old—can’t we allow him to be reinstated as the great he was before he keels over?
Put the ban he’s served thus far in perspective: in Canada, even people who’ve been convicted of first-degree murder are eligible for parole after serving 25 years of their sentence. Granted, Rose could have asked to be reinstated one year after his ban; he chose to postpone applying until ‘92 and ‘97. While that possibility for “parole” marginally lessens the harshness of Rose’s sentence, how is he still banned? The fact that I’m comparing his ban to a lifetime sentence of first-degree murder should be astounding, but the situations are far too analogous.
Rose is also being punished for something that most would term an addiction, particularly given the overwhelming debt that he got himself into. There haven’t been many lifetime bans in baseball related to addiction since then, apart from Steven Howe in ’92—and an arbiter reinstated Howe not long after his ban.
The whole “lifetime ban” punishment in baseball seems woefully arbitrary and erratic: Willie Mays and Mickey Mantle were both banned, although they were already retired, for accepting payment to sign autographs at a casino; meanwhile, Marge Schott was banned for discriminating against African-Americans, Jews, Asians, and homosexuals, as well as being a Nazi-sympathizer—she was reinstated two years after her ban.
Maybe I’m ludicrous for suggesting that an addiction to gambling doesn’t bring the Major Leagues into as much disrepute as sympathizing with Hitler does. Regardless of logic (or lack thereof), how about we refer to sympathy and respect in this situation? Pete Rose was a great baseball player, breaking multiple records in his long career; he’s also lost plenty as a result of his addiction to gambling. I don’t really care if he was blatantly disregarding rules, or didn’t acknowledge his culpability for several years. He’s had enough punishment—let’s ban the ban.