Wow! What a controversial question. As a huge baseball fan [Red Sox and Braves……..real die-hard fans have to have both an AL and NL team], I love the purity of the game not the shady side……the sex, drugs and alcohol [and in this case, gambling]. As in just about all sports today, you have to look beyond the human character flaws [and we all have them] and focus on the game itself. There is nothing more exciting in sports than to watch an athlete who has special physical skills and who has an extra level of charisma and energy, compete in a sport which you enjoy watching. Pete Rose was that sort of athlete. In fact, his nickname was “Charlie Hustle”. People would go to games that they otherwise wouldn’t just to watch him play.
He holds the record for the most base hits by a major league player in baseball history [4,256], having broken Ty Cobb’s record of 4,191 hits. Just think of it, only a few great hitters [maybe a handful of players per year] will achieve 200 hits per year. To break the record, Pete Rose had to accomplish that for 20 plus years. He had a lifetime batting average of .303, was Rookie of the Year in 1963, finished in the top 25 in MVP voting 15 times, was the MVP of the National League once, and was an All-Star 17 times during his 24 year career. Wow, what an accomplishment! What a career!
In spite of his unbelievable feats, Pete Rose disgraced the game of baseball by gambling on games in which he had influence on the outcome. Even more importantly [and in light of the fact that we Americans are a very forgiving society, so long as forgiveness is asked for and remorse is shown], he has remained angry and arrogant about his judgment, being banned from baseball for life.
Some of you may be saying, “but what about showing Pete some grace?”. I’m all about grace, in fact I consider myself the benefactor of God’s grace. I read an article recently by Max Lucado who is one of my favorite authors, in which he talked about grace. He made a statement that I think is worth repeating here; “I am never surprised by God’s judgment but stand in awe of his grace”. I wish Pete could read that and grasp the reality of it.
In summary, you cannot deny the outstanding playing ability and on field accomplishments of Pete Rose but, based upon his current attitude towards baseball’s judgment of his actions , I think he should reach the Hall of Fame posthumously.