It’s Not a Baseball Hall of Fame Without Pete Rose

A short trek down memory-lane for those of you who don’t remember back as far as the 1960s through 1980s. I’ve written on this before, but not for fourteen years.

Who was this ‘Charlie Hustle’ guy?

Ah, glad you asked. Whitey Ford of the opposing New York Yankees gave Pete the derisive nickname “Charlie Hustle” after Rose sprinted to first base after drawing a walk. The name stuck as he broke record after record in his career, mostly with the Cincinnati Reds.

Check out a few of those records

Yeah, take these stats for a test-drive to see if they pass the smell-test for the Baseball Hall of Fame:

Most in all these Major League Baseball categories: career at-bats (14,053), career plate appearances (15,890), career hits (4,256), career singles (3,215), career times on base (5,929), career outs (10,328), career games played (3,562), career winning games played (1,972), only player to play at least 500 games at five different positions (1B 939) (LF 671) (3B 634) (2B 628) (RF 595), career runs by a switch hitter (2,165), career doubles by a switch hitter (746), career walks by a switch hitter (1,566), career total bases by a switch hitter (5,752), seasons of 200 or more hits 10 (shared), consecutive seasons of 100 or more hits (23), consecutive seasons with 600 or more at-bats (13, 1968–1980, shared), seasons with 600 at-bats (17), seasons with 150 or more games played (17), seasons with 100 or more games played (23).

Maybe that’s why the nickname Charlie Hustle stuck. Pete Rose retired in 1986 with the highest modern-day career fielding percentage for a right fielder at 99.14% and the highest National League modern-day career fielding percentage for a left fielder at 99.07%.

But Pete liked to gamble and they nailed him for it

In his autobiography My Prison Without Bars, Rose admitted publicly to betting on baseball games and other sports while playing for and managing the Reds. He also admitted to betting on Reds games, but said he never bet against the Reds.

Sports organizations like to get hyper-moral from time to time on those women and men who made them rich and the victims span the sports-world from the Olympics to competitive swimming and bicycle racing. Lance Armstrong won the Tour de France seven consecutive times from 1999 to 2005, no matter being stripped of the medals.

Pete’s take on it

On a podcast with Eli Zaret in 2019, Pete had this to say,

“I’m not bitter at all but … I’m not gonna get on your show or anybody else’s show and bitch about not being in the Hall of Fame. I’m the one who screwed up, I’m the one that’s gonna live with it. Realistically, guys, me betting on my own team to win – which I did back in the ’80s – cost me $100 million. I mean that’s what it cost me. Because I’d have been managing the Reds for 30 years at three or four million (dollars) a year. And all the off-field stuff I’d have gotten. For people who say I haven’t been punished enough, they don’t know what the hell they’re talking about. But I’m a perfect example: Don’t break the rules, you’re going to suffer the consequences. I’m done with it, OK. Because I know I have no chance to go into the Hall of Fame until I die. And that’s fine.

And it may be fine with Pete, but it’s not fine with me

Pete may not be bitter (although I doubt that) but I am. There’s not an owner in Major League Baseball today that hasn’t lied and stolen his way to ownership. And if that owner inherited the money to get there, his family stole it and left it to them.

There’s also not a single person in that string of approvals that get a man elected to the Hall by the Baseball Writers’ Association of America that could even qualify to carry Pete Rose’s bag into the clubhouse.

Shame on them all

Their hallowed house is empty and will remain empty, haunted by Pete’s shadow in the corner.


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2 thoughts on “It’s Not a Baseball Hall of Fame Without Pete Rose

  1. An additional strange thing about it all: the media played up Rose so much during his playing days because of his total dedication to the game, hard work, “hustle” if you will, of which his gambling on the game was just an extension, if a misguided one, but then they totally turned on him for the gambling, and now he barely ranks above O.J. Simpson in terms of being a persona non grata.

  2. Indeed. We are such a weirdly ‘moral’ nation, as our CEOs and politicians steal us blind, our citizens lie homeless on the streets and yet our sports stars need be faultless, no matter their talents. Listing Pete’s accomplishments was staggering and he never murdered a child nor raped a woman. Purgatory for a giant.

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