- The Washington Times - Tuesday, February 25, 2003

Pete Rose is now a man without a country or at least a country with a Hall of Fame.

The Hit King already is banned from election to the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown for betting on baseball while managing the Cincinnati Reds a charge he denies. Now, Rose has struck out in another country, this time in Canada.

It's funny even to be nominated to the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame. It's embarrassing to be rejected.

Maybe he could try Venezuela next. He played winter baseball there. And I'm sure there are a few countries where he has gambled that might consider him for their baseball halls of fame or at least create one for him, for the right price.

But, then, there is the embarrassment of rejection to consider. By the time Rose is reinstated by Cadillac Bud Selig and put up for election to the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, he already might have been turned away from halls of fame around the globe.

Rose was nominated to the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame by Tony Riviera, the chairman of the recently created Canadian Baseball League. It obviously was a publicity stunt to gain more attention for his new league, but what is particularly embarrassing for Rose is that he not only acknowledged his nomination, he appeared to take it seriously.

He played just two-thirds of a season in Canada, appearing in 95 games with the Montreal Expos in 1984 and batting .259 with 23 RBI. He was traded that August to the Cincinnati Reds, where he became a player-manager, and Ohio bookies declared a national holiday.

Rose did get his 4,000th hit while he played for the Expos, and he gave his approval to the nomination. "Regarding any sincere recognition of my accomplishments, I'm all for it," Rose said in a statement released by the Canadian Hall of Fame after he was nominated.

He may want to settle for insincere recognition at this point.

"This is especially gratifying given that the 4,000th hit in Montreal came almost 20 years ago and that the people in Canada still remember me and are considering honoring me," Rose continued.

If the nomination was especially gratifying, the rejection must be especially galling. I guess the people of Canada at least the select few they could scrape up to fill out ballots for the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame do remember him, and apparently they don't particularly like what they remember.

"I hope to be reinstated by major league baseball by the time of the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame 2003 induction ceremony," Rose stated.

They must have edited out the part that said "or when pigs fly, whichever comes first."

Maybe it is a first-ballot kind of issue. Perhaps the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame is such hallowed ground that first-timers on the ballot have a tough time getting in. Sparky Anderson didn't get in. Neither did Tommy Lasorda. Heck, there were 46 nominees this year. I think if I make one more trip to Montreal to write about the end of the Expos, I have a good shot at the hall next year.

Gary Carter got in, and that makes sense. Still, you have to wonder whether he will wear a New York Mets hat to the induction ceremonies after the flap over which cap he would wear after his election to Cooperstown earlier this year (Carter suggested he should have a Mets hat but went in as an Expo).

Then again, maybe everyone who gets inducted into the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame has to wear one of those goofy earflap hats that Bob and Doug McKenzie used to wear on "SCTV."

Joe Carter got in, and that makes sense, too. He played 1,039 games for the Blue Jays and hit 203 home runs and drove in 736 runs while representing Toronto. "To be elected to the Canadian Hall of Fame is an honor that I will cherish for the rest of my life," he told Canadian television network CTV.

It will have to do. I don't think there will be a Cooperstown ceremony for Carter.

Will there be one for Rose? The momentum for reinstatement appears to have slowed down, with damaging reports coming out recently about more tax problems and his gambling activities in Las Vegas casinos. Cadillac Bud has hired a former federal prosecutor to investigate the proposed reinstatement, which can't be good for Rose.

But there's always next year in St Mary's, Ontario, the home of the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame. I'm sure the wait will only make the honor even more gratifying.


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