There may be no better physical embodiment of hustle and passion on a baseball field than that of
Hall of Famer Pete Rose. His rise to dominance and the fanfare that surrounded him on the diamond could only be matched by his fall from grace. Despite the cards being stacked against him, the all-time hit leader may have just been given a lifeline into the Hall of Fame.
Monday, May 14, 2018, the U.S. Supreme Court cleared the way for states to legalize sports betting, striking down a 1992 federal law that had prohibited most states from authorizing sports betting. The court stated the federal law violated constitutional principles limiting the federal government from controlling state policy, unconstitutionally forcing states to prohibit sports betting under their own laws.
“The legalization of sports gambling requires an important policy choice, but the choice is not ours to make,” Justice Samuel Alito wrote in the 6-3 opinion. “Congress can regulate sports gambling directly, but if it elects not to do so, each state is free to act on its own.”
— Marcellus Wiley (@marcelluswiley) May 14, 2018
Apart from those states that now have the potential to legalize sports betting in New York, home of Cooperstown and the Major League Baseball Hall of Fame. Major League Baseball released a statement saying the decision will have “profound effects” on the sport.
“Our most important priority is protecting the integrity of our games,” MLB’s statement would elaborate. “We will continue to support legislation that creates air-tight coordination and partnerships between the state, the casino operators and the governing bodies in sports toward that goal.”
While the Supreme Court has ruled in favor of legalizing sports betting, it by no means makes any guarantees for what individual states will do. One thing it does do however is bare the question, what about those impacted by gambling, in particular, Pete Rose.
The 77-year-old former outfielder in 1989 voluntarily accepted a permanent place on baseball’s ineligible list. Apart from the place on the list included Rose admitting to a factual reason for the ban. The ban stems from claims of his gambling while the manager for the Cincinnati Reds, claims that Rose admitted to in a book, though there is no proof stating that he bet against his own team. While Rose’s ban stems from reasons far different from the average gambler it for some still begs the question whether now with gambling legalized on the federal level is it time to put the former Red in the Cooperstown.
With all of the off the field issues aside, the 1973 NL MVP is a first-ballot Hall of Famer. He had 4,256 hits, .303 batting average and a 79.7 WAR throughout his career. The 17-time all-star and 3-time World Series Champion was a ballplayer through and through exemplifying everything and perhaps more than the hall stands for. Despite those numbers, he has yet to hear his name called to the hall and is one of just two living players on the ineligible list.
The case for Rose’s reinstatement is a simple one. It is built on the premise of admittance, time and perhaps the final piece to the puzzle, federal law. This is despite baseball’s hit-leader having had off the field issues and even making comments concerning the ban. While MLB is not inclined to have to make any decision that is not necessary, as it is, in this case, the idea of reinstating Rose has been discussed before. The discussion while brief was had by now Commissioner Rob Manfred. This would not be his first official return to baseball as Rose was included in the MLB All-Century Team and the Reds Hall of Fame.
Moving forward the path to baseballs greatest honor is out of Rose’s hands and in the hands of baseballs front office. Whether this change in legislation makes waves across baseball and those involved remains to be seen. A game built off of tradition and integrity seems less than inclined to waver from its decision. The one thing it does make instantly, however, is the question, does Pete Rose finally deserve his place in the MLB Hall of Fame?