I forgave Pete Rose years ago. Forgiveness can be such a cleansing experience.
I remember him not only from watching him dive head-first into second base at the old Crosley Field. I also observed him often at Frisch’s restaurant on Glenway Avenue. He was always glad to visit with other customers at the counter.
I lived in Cincinnati at the time, attending graduate school and teaching.
Pete and I shared the same barber in Price Hill, Bob’s Barber Shop on 8th Avenue, although I never ran into Pete at the shop.
No doubt he gambled on baseball – including Cincinnati Reds’ games when he was the Reds’ manager.
For years he lied about the betting. Then, with sales of his 2004 autobiography riding on it, he finally admitted to the repeated lying.
Pete, to be sure, is no saint. But neither was Babe Ruth or DiMaggio or certainly not the racist Ty Cobb. What distinguished them all was the statistics in that great record book of Major League Baseball.
Pete Rose belongs right up there with those immortals. He got more career hits than anybody else in the majors – 4,256. That includes a whole bunch of guys who are in the Hall of Fame and whose admission has never been open to debate.
Now, despite banned from baseball for life, he has made a few public appearances. He showed up at the Reds’ Great American Ballpark on the 25th anniversary of his hitting record. Last year, he was there when they unveiled a bronze sculpture of Hall of Fame member and long-time Rose teammate, Joe Morgan.
Outgoing baseball Commissioner Bud Selig never has ruled on Pete’s application for re-instatement. I suppose most Reds fans would welcome it. But I’m not sure about other die-hard fans of Major League baseball.
Nothing will ever expunge the humiliation of the exposure and Pete’s ban from baseball. Re-instating him wouldn’t change that. But I’ve always assumed Pete’s gambling was an addiction – a serious illness. People have lost fortunes to the gambling addiction. Pete has lost a great deal more than that.
He’s 73 now. I hope Selig will do the decent thing and welcome Pete back into baseball. Next year’s All-Star game is in Cincinnati. Pete belongs there. Forgiveness doesn’t cost a thing.