Kallas Remarks by Steve Kallas – Last week, Major League Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred stated that, with respect to a decision on Pete Rose’s application for reinstatement, “The end of the year is my deadline.” He went on to say, “I’m not telling you that this is coming December 30 or whatever. It will be done by the end of the year, let me be clear about that.”
A VERY EASY DECISION, IF MANFRED LISTENS TO BART GIAMATTI
Virtually everybody knows that Bart Giamatti was the Commissioner of Baseball when Pete Rose agreed to a lifetime ban IN 1989. Very few people know that at the time of that ban, Pete Rose was eligible to receive votes for the Hall of Fame. In fact, few people know that Shoeless Joe Jackson, who was banned for life for fixing the 1919 World Series (and there is no evidence that Jackson, who batted .375 in that Series and hit the only home run by either team, did anything wrong on the field), actually received some Hall of Fame votes over the years (i.e., he was still eligible).
Everybody also knows that Bart Giamatti died of a heart attack just days after announcing the Rose lifetime ban.
Today, more and more people are understanding that, ACCORDING TO BART GIAMATTI HIMSELF, Rose should have been considered for the Hall of Fame way back in 1989, once he became eligible (in 1991).
Giamatti was asked at the press conference announcing the Rose lifetime ban, whether that ban would have any effect on Rose’s ability to get into the Hall of Fame. When asked the question, as discussed in Kostya Kennedy’s recent book, Pete Rose: An American Dilemma, Giamatti clearly believed that one had nothing to do with the other. Addressing the baseball writers at the press conference (baseball writers vote for the Hall of Fame members), Bart Giamatti said, “YOU [meaning the writers] WILL DECIDE WHETHER HE [Rose] BELONGS IN THE HALL OF FAME.”
That should have been the end then, and the end now, of the inability of Pete Rose to be considered for the Hall of Fame.
INSTEAD, A MAGICAL MYSTERY TOUR
Instead, Fay Vincent, Giamatti’s friend and number two man in baseball, became the commissioner and, at a minimum, had some input into the absurd meeting in 1991 (just before Rose was eligible for the Hall) when baseball decided to not allow anyone on the permanently banned list to be eligible for the Hall of Fame (again, before the institution of this “Pete Rose” rule, anyone on the banned less (like Shoeless Joe Jackson) WAS eligible to the Hall of Fame.
For an understanding of the disgrace that led to this permanent Hall of Fame eligibility ban, see Kennedy’s book at pages 228-31. It’s a permanent black mark on the Hall of Fame (unless fixed by Rob Manfred).
Vincent was vehement about keeping Rose out, always saying that Giamatti had said that Rose had to “reconfigure his life” before he could be reinstated. But that had NOTHING to do with Rose’s possible induction into the Hall of Fame; rather, it had to do with Rose’s ability to come back and be employed by a team in some capacity. Clearly, Giamatti never meant the lifetime ban or that statement to hurt Rose’s chance to get into the Hall of Fame (see his quote above).
FROM VINCENT TO SELIG TO MANFRED
So, since 1991, Rose was denied, first by Faye Vincent and then by Bud Selig (who stated for years and years that Rose had applied but he just had not gotten around to it and, in fact, never did – despite being commissioner for 22 years. You can’t make this stuff up).
Now, with Rob Manfred the new commissioner, the time is ripe (and right) to right a terrible wrong and reinstate what BART GIAMATTI SAID IN 1989; that is, let the writers decide.
This isn’t about what Fay Vincent thought or thinks, or what Bud Selig thought or thinks, or even, to a lesser degree (he is the one with the power now), what Rob Manfred thinks about the issue. It should be all about what Bart Giamatti thought AND SAID, plain as day; that is, it’s up to the writers to decide whether Pete Rose should be in the Hall of Fame.
WHAT ABOUT SPORTS GAMBLING TODAY?
While it’s interesting to see that Major League Baseball has an investment interest in DraftKings and Commissioner Manfred has come out to say that daily fantasy sports is not gambling, none of this should have any bearing on his Pete Rose decision. He may be gun-shy now to allow Rose to be considered for the Hall of Fame because he’s taking a lot of heat on his DraftKings position.
But anyone with even half a brain knows that legal sports gambling is coming and that includes daily fantasy (which might be legal today – case pending in New York). Government regulation will come, all the pro sports will invest and/or have their hands out for their share, states and local municipalities will see it as a panacea for incredible debt and financial issues that they all have on their books now (and into the future).
But with respect to Pete Rose, Rob Manfred should stay above the fray and simply announce that, after reviewing what Bart Giamatti said about Pete Rose and the Hall of Fame back in 1989, he is simply following the guidance of the then-Commissioner of Baseball, and allow Rose to be considered for the Hall of Fame. If he doesn’t want Rose to work in baseball, he can still separate the two.
Maybe someone with a brain and some power can show this article to the Commissioner of Baseball. It’s really very simple. THIS SHOULD BE THE YEAR THAT THE THOUGHTS OF BART GIAMATTI SHOULD BE RESPECTED.
© Copyright 2015 by Steve Kallas. All rights reserved.