Jan. 16, 2013 —
For only the second time in four decades, the Baseball of Fame has denied enshrinement to any former big league players.
And this time it was three of the best ever to play America’s pastime – Barry Bonds, the game’s career home run leader with 769; Roger Clemens, seven-time winner of the Cy Young Award; and Sammy Sosa, who had 609 career homers.
However, none of these cases are as egregious as baseball’s refusal to let Pete Rose, the game’s all-time hits leader, even appear on the Hall of Fame ballot voted by the Baseball Writers’ Association of America.
Rose, who admitted gambling on baseball, was never shown to have bet against his own team, the Cincinnati Reds, which he was managing when he was banned from the sport for the rest of his life.
In our opinion, Rose was blackballed because baseball is still trying to live down the infamous “Black Sox”scandal of 1919 when the Chicago White Sox sold out to gamblers and lost the World Series on purpose.
As for this year’s HOF voting, Bonds, Clemens and Sosa appeared on the ballot for the first time since retiring from baseball.
None were even close to the required 75 percent of total votes cast. Sosa, in fact, received only 12.5 percent.
They will have up to 14 more years of eligibility to gain baseball's highest honor.
In comparison, Rose has never had the first opportunity to be elected and enshrined, despite his 4,256 hits and 12 other major league records and 11 marks in the National League.
Rose was chosen by baseball fans to play in 17 All-Star games at five different positions. He earned the nickname of “Charlie Hustle”.
Now 71, Rose remains a celebrity, signing autographs, selling memorabilia and making personal appearances at baseball card shows and corporate events.
No doubt he would trade his celebrity to be enshrined at Cooperstown among the best, if not as the best, to ever play the game.
This year’s Hall of Fame voting appeared to be aimed at punishing those who were suspected of using “performance enhancing drugs” (PEDs), mainly steroids.
Also targeted were other players who supposedly were aware of the misdeeds of their teammates but did nothing about it.
Slights of some of the great players likely will be rectified by the veterans’ committee at some future date but Rose won’t be among them.
We believe it’s time for the Baseball Hall of Fame to end its history of hypocrisy. Either it’s for the best players or it’s not.