- The Washington Times - Monday, November 28, 2005

A familiar name will be absent from the 2006 Hall of Fame ballot when it comes out today, just as it was last year and for the 13 years before that.

This, however, is the last time the absence of Pete Rose will be noteworthy. The all-time hit king is not eligible for induction into Cooperstown by a vote of the baseball writers after this ballot unless the Hall of Fame grants him an exception.

He still could be considered for induction, however. Rose, who was banned from the game in 1989 for betting on baseball, becomes eligible for election by members of the Hall of Fame in 2009. But Rose first must be reinstated by the commissioner of baseball.

Rose agreed to a lifetime ban by commissioner Bart Giamatti in August 1989 after an investigation of his gambling while he was manager of the Cincinnati Reds. Rose applied for reinstatement in 1997, but commissioner Bud Selig upheld the ban. Selig met with Rose in November 2002 to discuss his case but still has not acted on his application.

Selig will not rule on the application in time to affect the 2006 Hall of Fame ballot, according to baseball’s chief operating officer, Bob DuPuy. The Hall of Fame has ruled that anyone on the permanently ineligible list cannot be placed on the baseball writers ballot.

A candidate must wait five years after he retires as an active player — Rose retired in 1986 — before he can go on the writers’ ballot. He can remain on that ballot for 15 years.

Jane Forbes Clark, chairman of the Hall of Fame, told the Associated Press that Hall officials would consider an exception if Rose is reinstated.

“I think that we would look at the situation if the commissioner changes the situation and the position of Major League Baseball,” she said. “If something happens, we’ll react to it.”

In a statement issued through his manager, Warren Greene, Rose said, “How can I be on a list that expires after 15 years if I’m suspended? It should be that time stops.”

Rose, 64, had public sentiment on his side for many years. He was voted by fans to the All-Century team in 1999, creating an embarrassing situation for baseball. A number of high-profile supporters, including former President Jimmy Carter, called for his reinstatement.

Opinion turned against Rose in 2004 with the release of his book, “Pete Rose — My Prison Without Bars.” In the book, Rose finally admitted he bet on baseball. But the way he did it — profiting through the sale of a book — and his lack of contrition seemed to turn sentiment against him.

Rose wrote, “If I had admitted my guilt, it would have been the same as putting my head on the chopping block — lifetime ban. Death penalty. … Right or wrong, the punishment didn’t fit the crime — so I denied the crime.”

A poll conducted by the Tribune newspaper group of 159 baseball writers with Hall of Fame votes shortly after the release of Rose’s book showed 45 percent would vote for Rose and 48 percent would not, with 7 percent undecided.

A candidate must get 75 percent of eligible voters to be elected.

Rose received nine write-in votes in 2005, his lowest total, and has been written in on 239 of 6,687 ballots (3.6 percent) over 14 years.

The writers were considered more sympathetic to Rose than the Hall of Famers, a number of whom have criticized him and stated their opposition to his eligibility for Hall consideration.

Former Baltimore Orioles pitcher Jim Palmer told The Washington Times in December 2002 that as far as he was concerned, “Nothing has changed in 13 years. He hasn’t seemed to change his life or done anything different. He’s still the same guy he was.”

Hall of Fame pitcher Bob Feller last year told the New York Post that Rose was “a good hitter, an average manager, a liar and a crook. Does baseball need him? Not really. … The commissioner has done the right thing: nothing. Giamatti has been vindicated 100 percent.”

Rose still is conducting his own campaign. He sells T-shirts on his Web site bearing the legend “Vote Pete Into the Cooperstown Hall of Fame.”

The shirt also notes, “This is not an MLB licensed product.”

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