|Tuesday, December 10
Updated: December 12, 1:58 PM ET
Proposals exchanged but many hurdles remain
ESPN.com news services
NEW YORK -- Pete Rose may finally be getting his second chance.
Baseball's career hits leader could know by the end of the year if baseball will agree to end his lifetime ban -- which could make him eligible for the Hall of Fame.
Rose and commissioner Bud Selig met secretly in Milwaukee on Nov. 25 and have been exchanging draft proposals that could end the ban, sources close to the situation told ESPN.com's Jayson Stark.
Nothing has been agreed to at this point -- including whether or not Rose will be reinstated or regain eligibility for Hall of Fame induction -- and while any potential agreement could still fall apart, it's conceivable a deal could be reached by sometime next month.
"It's a first hopeful sign,'' said Cincinnati Mayor Charlie Luken, who wrote twice to Selig last month urging reinstatement. Luken said he spoke to Bob DuPuy, Selig's top aide, on Nov. 27 and DuPuy said he would get back to him in about 30 days.
Negotiations are still ongoing on the terms of exactly what Rose will be asked by Selig to admit to before he is reinstated. In order to satisfy constituents who are opposed to Rose's reinstatement, Selig is said to be firm in his conviction that Rose has to admit, in some form, that he bet on baseball.
The meeting between Rose and Selig was the result of a process that had begun more than a year earlier, in the fall of 2001, when friends of Rose -- including several former Hall of Fame teammates -- first intervened on his behalf with Selig.
It came 13 years after Rose, then the manager of the Cincinnati Reds, agreed to a lifetime ban from the game following an investigation into his gambling. Rose's playing career ended on Aug. 17, 1986.
Warren Greene, Rose's business agent, was at the meeting, as was DuPuy, and Hall of Famer Mike Schmidt, a high-ranking baseball official told The Associated Press on Tuesday, also on the condition of anonymity. Baseball and Rose have been exchanging proposals for more than 1½ years, the official said.
"There have been a number of stories reporting alleged conversations or meetings between commissioner Selig and Pete Rose," DuPuy said Tuesday in a statement. "Pete Rose applied for reinstatement to commissioner Selig several years ago and that application has been pending since that time. Given the pendency of the application for reinstatement, neither the commissioner or anyone in our office will comment on the Pete Rose matter further."
Rose applied for reinstatement in September 1997 but Selig has refused to rule on it, saying in the past he hasn't seen any evidence that would make him alter the lifetime ban.
Rose has taken a far more conciliatory tone in his public statements about Selig in recent months. Rose's efforts to be less combative apparently played a role in convincing Selig to allow him to attend the Most Memorable Moments ceremony during the World Series.
Since their meeting two weeks ago, there have been subsequent conversations between representatives of Selig and Rose, and proposals have been exchanged, Stark reports. And it is clear that Selig is now more open to the possibility of reinstating Rose than he has been at any point in his decade as commissioner.
Rose took a flight to Milwaukee from Cincinnati on Nov. 24 and chatted with members of Marquette's women's basketball team, which was returning home from a game in Dayton, Ohio, according to the school.
Rose wasn't shedding much light on his talks with Selig.
"There are a lot bigger people I'm obligated to answer to first," Rose told Cincinnati television station WXIX through a personal friend on Monday night, "so my official comment is 'no comment.' "
"My opinion is completely predicated on if he admits wrongdoing," former commissioner Fay Vincent told ESPN on Tuesday. Vincent was deputy commissioner under then-commissioner A. Bartlett Giamatti at the time Rose was banned for life on Aug. 23, 1989. Vincent was named commissioner following Giamatti's death in the ensuing days after Rose's banishment.
"I know Joe Morgan and Mike Schmidt have tried to get Pete to admit he was wrong for years, but I don't believe that Pete will ever admit he was wrong and I don't believe that Bud Selig will ever reinstate him," Vincent told ESPN.
ESPN's Morgan spoke about the situation at the World Series, after Rose was given the longest ovation among the stars who appeared in a promotion before Game 4. Morgan said he detected increasing support for allowing Rose into the Hall of Fame. The Hall adopted a rule in February 1991 that excludes membership to those on the permanently banned list.
"But it all starts with Pete,'' Morgan had said. "He's got to come clean. I'm sure he liked hearing the fans cheering for him. But that ovation isn't going to get him into the Hall of Fame. He's got to make it right. It's up to him.''
If the terms of Rose's mea culpa are agreed to, there will be a probationary period before he is eligible for the Hall of Fame and before he would be reinstated and allowed to work again in baseball.
Hall of Fame pitcher Bob Feller, who has been outspoken about Rose's possible reinstatement, called the news "a publicity stunt by him and his people."
"I'm tired of talking about it. I'm fed up. He's history," Feller told The Associated Press on Wednesday.
Feller was among a group of Hall of Famers who threatened to walk out of the Hall's induction ceremonies in 2000 if Cincinnati Reds broadcaster Marty Brennaman had used his induction speech to campaign for Rose.
In a July interview with The Associated Press, Rose said baseball considered him "dead" unless they needed him for a specific reason.
Rose was welcomed to participate in ceremonies on the field during the 1999 World Series as part of baseball's All-Century team. He also appeared onfield during the 2002 World Series for the game's most memorable moments, voted on by the fans. His breaking of Ty Cobb's all-time career hits record in 1985 was among the top 10.
"In 1999, when I made the All-Century team, they needed me," Rose said at the time. "They won't call on me until they need me. They're hypocrites."
Rose was investigated by baseball starting in February 1989 while manager of the Reds. John Dowd, who headed the inquiry for Giamatti, wrote a report that detailed 412 baseball wagers between April 8 and July 5, 1987, including 52 on Cincinnati to win. Dowd cited evidence that included betting slips alleged to be in Rose's handwriting, and telephone and bank records.
After a legal challenge, Rose agreed to the lifetime ban Aug. 23.
''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,'' Giamatti said.
While the agreement contained no formal finding of guilt, Giamatti said ''in the absence of a hearing and in absence of evidence to the contrary ... yes, I have concluded that he bet on baseball.''
Giamatti died of a heart attack on Sept. 1, 1989, and Vincent, who had headed the investigation as deputy commissioner, took over.
Dowd wasn't sure reinstatement would be the correct decision.
''I would be very careful before I put him back,'' he said. ''I guess I come down on the side of history. To me, you can't have someone back in baseball unless they've cleaned it all up and have it all straightened out. If you don't, you have the game in jeopardy. What do you do with the bookmakers he's ever dealt with? What do you do with the people he owes money? Has he reconfigured his life?''
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.