Despite Allegations, is the Hit King a Hall of Famer?
They called him “Charlie Hustle”, as he was the hardest, most rambunctious player to ever step on the field besides Ty Cobb. Pete Rose played in a record 3562 games while racking up the most plate appearances and at-bats in baseball history on his way to becoming the hit king with a total of 4256 (10 seasons with 200+). The leader of the Big Red Machine back in late 70’s, also had over 700 doubles, 100 triples, and hit .300 or better in 15 of 17 campaigns from 1965-1981. No one but Ty Cobb was as much a redneck on the field as Rose, as each one of Pete’s 5752 total bags was gathered with his spikes in the air.
There are about 5 ball players that are in the conversation for best ever, but Charlie Hustle may have the best case; however, he is not in the Hall of Fame, due to betting on America’s past time. Up until recently all allegations against Rose’s betting were when he was a manager from 1984-1989 with the Reds and Phillies, but just these past couple weeks evidence has been found that he also betted on games he played in. After finishing with a managerial record of 426-388 with the Reds (second most wins in franchise history), he retired, however it wasn’t entirely his choice. The implications of Rose being a liar began with the famous incident of bumping an empire in an April game in 1988, which lead to a 30-day suspension. Then in 1989, the cheating suspicions began in February, lasting until August, which then, after repeatedly lying, Charlie Hustle accepted being placed on the MLB’s permanently ineligible list, excluding him from ever being able to be inducted into Cooperstown.
Sports’ betting is illegal in most ways for reasons many people agree with, while there are also strong rules on players in that game betting. When regular fans bet on different sporting events, for the most part its fair, but when a guy like Pete Rose bets, it’s different in that he has specific insight for the game being bet on, giving him the odds to win. Pete Rose bet at the minimum of $10000 on tons of games as a manager, and now arguably also as a player.
There is no question a gambler and liar should have anything to do with the game today or the years to come, but the Hall of Fame is for legendary players. Sure Cooperstown is not only for celebrating what the players did on the field, but also for how they affected the game in a positive way with their charisma. However, not every inducted member was a charmer nor was a Hall of Fame type talent. For example, Ty Cobb was possibly the harshest man to ever play the game of baseball; there is even a famous story of how he beat up a man in a wheel chair; despite his god-like talents with the bat, why does a son of a bitch like that deserve honor, yet he was inducted on the first ever ballot. Another example, Cubbies’ 2nd baseman Johnny Evers was no better than an average player with just a .270 batting average and less hits than games played (1659); those numbers aren’t legendary.
Baseball is a spectator sport that is played for enjoyment and making money. Sure, there are going to be some players who are not half decent people, but their stellar play on the field is what draws fans to the park and gets the baseball business booming. Pete Rose may had gambled on the game he loved and lied, but he swung the bat like no other, being the most entertaining guy to watch, resulting in more tickets being sold meaning more money. Charlie Hustle was no doubt baseball’s hit king, then what is a castle without the king?