Some object to the lying. Others decry what they consider a lack of sufficient contrition. Yet others maintain -- even with his admission this week in a new book that he bet on baseball games while a manager -- that Pete Rose should be considered for membership in the Hall of Fame based solely on his on-field accomplishments.
To be admitted to the Hall, players need to receive votes from at least 75% of the electorate -- members of the Baseball Writers' Assn. of America who have covered baseball for at least 10 years.
For The Record
Los Angeles Times Friday January 09, 2004 Home Edition Main News Part A Page 2 National Desk 2 inches; 84 words Type of Material: Correction
Pete Rose -- An article Thursday in Section A about Baseball Hall of Fame voters considering whether they'd vote for Pete Rose even though he bet on baseball incorrectly quoted Randy Youngman of the Orange County Register as saying Ty Cobb had been accused of rape. The correct quote is: "A Hall of Fame without Pete Rose doesn't have any credibility. Ty Cobb supposedly killed somebody. Babe Ruth was accused of rape several times. That's in his biography, so you can't legislate morality retroactively."
An informal survey of scores of Hall of Fame voters conducted by the Los Angeles Times and eight other Tribune Co. newspapers indicates that Rose faces an uphill battle. Of 159 voters surveyed, 72 said they would vote for Rose if he were reinstated by Major League Baseball. Seventy-six voters said they would vote against Rose, and 11 said they were undecided.
"Pete is one of my two or three favorite players," said John Shea of the San Francisco Chronicle. But "if I had to vote today, I would vote no. My thinking hasn't changed. He's as guilty now as he was 14 years ago.
"Pete coming out now and admitting that he bet on baseball does not make him less guilty. Allowing him in the Hall of Fame would clear the way for someone else to make the same mistakes."
In "My Prison Without Bars," a hard-cover confessional hitting the bookstores today, Rose admits that he bet on baseball while managing the Cincinnati Reds in the 1980s.
He hopes to sway public opinion and clear a path to reinstatement and, ultimately, a spot in the Cooperstown, N.Y., museum.
On Tuesday, Paul Molitor, with 431 votes, and Dennis Eckersley, with 421, were voted into the Hall. A total of 506 ballots were cast. The balloting for next year's honorees will occur in December.
Rose is baseball's all-time hits leader, but his written admission of betting on baseball while managing the Cincinnati Reds has voters divided over the rules of Hall of Fame election, Section 5 in particular:
"Voting shall be based upon the player's record, playing ability, integrity, sportsmanship, character and contributions to the team(s) on which the player played."
Rose amassed 4,256 hits while playing for the Cincinnati Reds, Philadelphia Phillies and Montreal Expos.
He also agreed to a lifetime ban from baseball in 1989 after a Major League Baseball investigation of allegations that he bet on baseball while managing the Reds -- contentions Rose had denied until the publication of this book.
Many voters said the issues of integrity and character outweigh any of Rose's on-field accomplishments.
"Obviously, it's not just a museum. It's the ultimate place of honor for baseball players," said Larry Rocca of the Newark Star-Ledger. "Rose dishonored the game and recklessly endangered its essential integrity. Honoring him in any way would be patently absurd."
Steve Dilbeck of the Los Angeles Daily News said he "would never vote for this guy and would be very disappointed in him and any of my compatriots who do vote for him. I just think it's the wrong message."
Dilbeck said that "gambling is the one area where there's no gray area. They've always called it a lifetime ban for a reason. The integrity of the game is at stake. What message is that sending to players if you get a lifetime ban and you're back in 14 years? You can't be lenient; you have to be firm, you've got to stick to your principles in this situation."
Peter Gammons of ESPN said he supported Rose's inclusion in the Hall of Fame until learning of the admission of gambling in Rose's book.
"For a long time, I have maintained that if the commissioner judges him to be on the ballot and eligible, I would vote for him based on his performance as a player," Gammons said. "I'm having serious second thoughts. I am not sure now.
"The release of this book has reminded me that Pete Rose does not like baseball. He likes himself. The fact that all this stuff would come out and take away from Paul Molitor and Dennis Eckersley shows he has no respect for the Hall of Fame and what it means.
"This is an issue central to all the credibility of baseball. I now lean very strongly to the position that I would not vote for him."
However, Randy Youngman of the Orange County Register said he would vote for Rose primarily because of one statistic: "4,256 hits."
"You can't pretend they didn't happen, pure and simple," he said. "A Hall of Fame without Pete Rose doesn't have any credibility. Ty Cobb supposedly killed somebody; he was accused of rape several times. That's in his biography, so you can't legislate morality retroactively.
"Basically, if you threw out people because of morality, you'd have to take out a few more guys from the Hall of Fame. Orlando Cepeda, voted in by the veterans' committee, was found guilty of smuggling ... marijuana."
Several voters said they thought Rose's strategy with his book would backfire.