|Tuesday, December 10
Writers: We won't hose Rose
By Darren Rovell
If Pete Rose is eventually reinstated and put on the Hall of Fame ballot, a select group of journalists who vote said they would overwhelmingly enshrine him in Cooperstown.
ESPN.com polled 21 voting members of the Baseball Writers' Association of America (BBWAA), which has approximately 500 Hall of Fame voters, and all 21 said they would vote for Rose if he were on the ballot. If Rose were reinstated and placed on the ballot, he would need 75 percent of the votes.
"If he admits he bet on baseball and asks for forgiveness, I'd vote for him in a heartbeat," said Richard Justice of the Houston Chronicle, who has been voting for the past 10 years. "If he ever did come clean, we live in a country that forgives people for their sins and it would be the biggest induction ceremony since Babe Ruth's."
Rose met with Major League Baseball commissioner Bud Selig in recent weeks to talk about possible reinstatement, although ESPN.com's Jayson Stark reports that sources close to the situation say nothing has been agreed to at this point. Thirteen years ago, Rose agreed to a lifetime ban from the game after an investigation into his gambling. Rose applied for reinstatement in 1997, but Selig refused to listen, citing lack of evidence that anything had changed.
"If he does get reinstated, it would be hard to keep the all-time hits leader away from the Hall of Fame," said Jack O'Connell of the Hartford Courant who is also responsible for the Hall of Fame voting as the secretary/treasurer of the BBWAA.
Added the Baltimore Sun's Peter Schmuck, a voting member of the BBWAA since 1989: "The Hall of Fame is not for choir boys to begin with."
Michael Knisley, a contributing writer for USA Today's Sports Weekly, said that there isn't any morals clause in order to become a member of the Hall of Fame. "If that was the case, Ty Cobb would be taken off."
A sampling of new voters like Pedro Gomez of the Arizona Republic -- who recently completed the required 10 years of reporting on baseball to earn his Hall of Fame ballot -- and longtime voters, including Leonard Koppett and Ross Newhan, both of whom have been voting for more than 30 years, were included in the survey. Koppett and Newhan were both awarded, in 1992 and 2000 respectively, the Hall of Fame's J.G. Taylor Spink Award for their contributions to baseball writing.
"Everything that happened since he walked off the field is totally irrelevant to the voting," Koppett said.
Some wonder if Rose will ever admit he gambled on baseball.
"He's obviously going to have to take the initiative under the current Major League Baseball regime," said Marc Topkin, the Tampa Bay Devil Rays beat writer for the St. Peterburg Times.
"I think it's going to be next to impossible for him to acknowledge what he did," said Newsday's Marty Noble. "Arrogance was one of the qualities that made him the great player that he was and it might be that arrogance that will keep him from acknowledging what he did." Tom Keegan, host of ESPN Radio's "Wally and the Keeg" show in New York, would vote for Rose if he were reinstated and put on the ballot, but Keegan said allowing him to become an active member in baseball's family is a separate issue.
"I would not advocate allowing a compulsive gambler back into baseball without treatment and the experts to analyze if that treatment turned out to be effective," Keegan said.
Darren Rovell, who covers sports business for ESPN.com, can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.