LAS VEGAS, NV – Debates about the man who holds the Major League Baseball record in hits (4,256) still go on to this day. He was banned for life in baseball back in 1989 and he still is relevant in some way. No, I won’t go into the banned story. I took a weekend trip to Vegas with my wife and I made a trip to go see Pete Rose at the Mandalay Place shopping center.
He signs there a few times a week in the Art and Music store within the shopping center. He has his people decked out in Cincinnati jerseys and signs almost anything you want. You sit next to him and you can chat with him for five minutes or more depends on if there is a line to see him. He signs for four hours so people come in sporadically.
Rose, now 75 years old, hears it every day from the fans that come to get his autograph, “you should be in the Hall of Fame.” I said it to him, so add myself to that list. However, when said there was this different tone about Rose that was picked up. He uttered his usual defense words of, “I’ve made some bad mistakes.”
We get it. You made mistakes. A big one. The tone though made Rose sound defeated. It was earlier this year when his reinstatement application was denied by commissioner Rob Manfred. Another application to another commissioner, another emphatic no. It was said in the statement from Manfred that although Pete could not be allowed back in baseball, it had no effect on whether the baseball Hall of Fame wants to let him in.
Charlie Hustle has a chance at the hall. He just has to make a better presentation than the ones in the past towards baseball to let him in.
Back to the tone picked up when speaking to him. He sounded as if he has no shot at the Hall. For the first time, he sounded defeated at the notion of there being no hope to get into the Cooperstown establishment.
Could it have been he has said the same line over and over, day in and day out at the thousands of people that come to see him? Possibly.
Another possibility could be that while his meeting with Manfred earlier this year, Manfred wanted to see if he had changed his “ways” and by ways – stopped gambling. His answers could be no, or it could be “not as much as I use too”.
Pete still gambles plain and simple. We started talking about baseball. We were talking about the last day of the season and races to still be determined. He pulled out his phone to look at the standings and what opens up? College football games with betting lines. Yep, he’s still doing it. That’s okay everyone does, especially if you live in Vegas.
Within that five minutes, Pete was in a decent mood, he signed all the stuff I purchased. What came of it? A meeting with the greatest hitting player in the game’s history and the sound of defeat all at the same time.
The debates will continue each and every year when the hall of fame talk comes around. He will still be a topic of conversation as one of the greatest controversial players in the game without touching steroids. There are many people who believe he should be nowhere near the hall and labeled as a “cheater” and there are many others who say “enough is enough” and give him his due and put him in his rightful place.
When and if Rose makes his plea with the Hall committee if he hasn’t done so already, if he does not get the approval then we will witness one of the saddest moments in a ballplayer’s life and we just may have to wait years before he’s ever considered.
For now, all Rose can do is hope and do what he does best, go about his day, show up to Mandalay Place and sign and get his pay check.