The National Baseball Hall of Fame is an independently operated museum of baseball history, meaning it has no direct connection to Major League Baseball. They can do what they want with their museum, irrespective of what M.L.B. says or thinks.
This week, the H.O.F. announced that Pete Rose would never be enshrined there. They affirmed a rule they’ve had which says anyone banned by M.L.B. could not be in the Hall.
As everyone knows, M.L.B. has banned Pete Rose for life for the sin of betting on baseball when employed as a manager for the Cincinnati Reds. Rose can’t work in professional baseball again. This is appropriate. Ever since the Black Sox scandal of 1919, everyone has known that the one thing you could never do was bet on the sport while you were part of it. Rose did it anyway.
The Hall of Fame is a different story. Keeping Rose out is not appropriate. It’s not the Hall of Ethics. It’s not the Hall of Good Guys.
Pete Rose would otherwise be a first ballot Hall-of-Famer, just based on the one fact that he had 4256 hits in his career, more than anyone else who ever played the game. Only the immortal (and immoral) Ty Cobb ever got to 4000 and no one else ever came close. And Rose, known appropriately as Charlie Hustle, had many many other accomplishments that also qualify him, every one of which confirms what anyone who ever saw him play already knows: Pete Rose always tried as hard as he could to do his best to win. Always.
The Hall of Fame is now committed to having a baseball museum in which, among many other omissions,
the all-time hits leader (Rose) is not enshrined,
the all-time Home Run and Walks leader and seven-time M.V.P. (Barry Bonds) is absent,
a guy who won the Cy Young award as the best pitcher in the league seven times (Roger Clemens) is out,
one of only five people to have both 3000 hits and 500 home runs (Rafael Palmeiro) is missing,
another (Alex Rodriguez), who had an even better career than Palmeiro, will have to be kept out by the same logic when he reaches eligibility,
the left-handed hitter with the best lifetime average after Cobb (Joe Jackson) is out.
There are a million ways they could enshrine these guys and others while acknowledging their shortcomings. But they’re too high-minded for that.
It’s just stupid.