Does Pete Rose Deserve to Have His Ban Lifted?

Let’s start with a question that is still conflicting some baseball fans 31 years later: Does Pete Rose deserve to have his lifetime MLB ban lifted?

Fact: Rose broke the rules and he bet on baseball. He accepted a ban in exchange for no formal ruling, then admitted his guilt 16 years later. Those statements are irrefutable. Does he deserve a second chance?

The History Behind the Ban

Rose (aka Charlie Hustle) played 19 years with the Cincinnati Reds (1963-1978; 1985-1986), then managed the team from 1984-1989. During Cincinnati’s ’85 and ’86 seasons, he served as a player-manager.

In 1988, Rose was accused of betting on MLB games. To make matters worse, he was also alleged to have bet on Reds’ games in 1986 while he managed the team. After an MLB investigation, Rose accepted a settlement.

In the agreement between Rose and then MLB Commissioner A. Bartlett Giamatti, Rose agreed to a lifetime ban from baseball. As part of the deal, MLB would not make a formal decision on Rose’s alleged gambling. Also included in the deal, was a stipulation that he could apply for reinstatement, but 31 years later, he’s still waiting.

After the deal was agreed to, the Baseball Hall of Fame passed a rule stating that a banned player would be ineligible for election. Rose’s name has never appeared on a Hall of Fame ballot, though he’d have been eligible in 1991.

Undeniable Accomplishments

Whether or not Rose gambled on games, his accomplishments as a player are undeniable. He was Rookie of the Year in 1963. He was a 17-time All-Star and the baseball’s National League MVP in 1973. In addition, Rose earned two Gold Gloves and a Silver Slugger Award. He also owns three batting titles.

Rose is the only player in MLB history to play more than 500 games at five different positions. During his career, Rose played 939 games at first, 628 games at second, 634 games at third, 671 games in left and 596 games in right.

He still holds the MLB records for number of games played (3,562) and for the most hits (4,526).

As for longevity, Rose holds the record for the oldest player in MLB from 1980 through 1986. During his final year, Rose played at age 45.

2020: Rose Requests Reinstatement

In the wake of the PED and Astros’ sign-stealing scandals, Rose applied for reinstatement again this week. In his 20-page letter to Rob Manfred, Rose states that his punishment was not a “proportionate response.”

Referring to the Astros’ scandal and the lack of punishment for players who were involved, Rose’s camp has stated, “Relative to the discipline imposed by Major League Baseball for recent egregious assaults on the integrity of the game, Pete Rose continues to suffer a disproportionate penalty.”

Prior to 2020, Rose last applied for reinstatement in 2015; the application was denied by Commissioner Rob Manfred seven months later.

What Do the Fans Think?

The majority of fans overwhelmingly think that Rose deserves to not only be reinstated, but also admitted into the Hall of Fame.

Personally, I’m somewhat conflicted on the whole thing. On the one hand, the guy broke the rules. Period. He agreed to the ban and has suffered the consequences of his actions for the last three-plus decades. On the other hand, his accomplishments are undeniable and he was one of the greatest players to ever take the field.

Rose is now almost 79-years-old. HIs contributions to the game will last forever. Maybe it is time they revisit his punishment. MLB should consider things that have happened to the game since Rose’s infraction, and go ahead and reinstate him while he’s still alive to see his accomplishments enshrined in Cooperstown.

Take a moment and consider Rose’s accomplishments. Now, weigh them against his infractions. I’ll ask you one more time: Does Pete Rose deserve to have his ban lifted?

As always, I welcome your comments.


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Ken Allison, Baseball Dept Head
Ken Allison is the senior of two MLB Department Heads, as well as a writer and editor for Overtime Heroics. A life-long MLB fan, he's also written for CubsHQ and had the opportunity to try out for the Chicago Cubs in 1986.

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