According to this report from The New York Times, MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred has informed Pete Rose that he will not lift the lifetime ban against him.
I cannot say I am at all surprised.
After all, Manfred rejected the opportunity to reinstate “Shoeless” Joe Jackson scarcely 100 days ago. This is what I wrote when Rose applied for reinstatement back in March:
If Shoeless Joe Jackson of the 1919 Black Sox scandal fame cannot get into Cooperstown nearly 100 years after he was acquitted in a court of law then Charlie Hustle’s application isn’t going to get out of the on deck circle.
With that said, the lifetime ban against Rose isn’t nearly as harsh as the lifetime ban against Jackson and other members of the Black Sox. For better or for worse, it is part of the age in which we live. While Rose remains ineligible for Hall of Fame consideration, he participated in the pre-game festivities during the 2015 MLB All-Star Game in Cincinnati and was part of FS1’s pre-game and post-game show panel during this past post-season and even trended on Twitter during a rain delay in the ALCS between the Toronto Blue Jays and the Kansas City Royals. Pete Rose is hardly persona non grata.
The same simply cannot be said for “Shoeless Joe” who was not welcome at any major or minor league ballpark and played semi-pro baseball under assumed names. Mind you, Shoeless Joe was acquitted by a jury for his involvement in throwing the 1919 World Series. But “regardless of the verdict of juries” as MLB’s first Commissioner Kenesaw Mountain Landis solemnly declared. Landis was a law unto himself and Jackson could not escape its reach until his dying day. Jackson’s shame was so deep that he could barely admit to identifying himself when Ty Cobb visited his liquor store one day.
While Pete Rose will never see the inside of Cooperstown, he still receives the adulation of baseball fans everywhere. Shoeless Joe knew no such solace.
UPDATE: Manfred claims that his decision doesn’t render Rose ineligible for the Hall of Fame. Obviously, MLB and the National Baseball Hall of Fame are two separate organizations, but the latter clearly takes its cue from the former. The bylaws of the Baseball Hall of Fame preclude anyone on MLB’s ineligible list from consideration for induction. So as long as MLB bans Rose, the Baseball Hall of Fame will follow suit.
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