Sunday, August 23, 2009

Out on the Twentieth

Today is the 20th anniversary of Pete Rose's "settlement" with Bart Giamatti and Major League Baseball. On this date in 1989, Rose agreed to a permanent lifetime ban from baseball in settlement of MLB's gambling allegations. Rose, a star player for the Cincinnati Reds and Philadelphia Phillies, always maintained his innocence from gambling on baseball until his book in 2004. In My Prison Without Bars, he finally confessed to betting on the Reds while he was a player.

Rose's ouster, of course, is not the first such incident of gambling on baseball by a player, followed by a lifetime ban. Due to the Black Sox scandal of 1919, in which members of the Chicago White Sox tanked a World Series game for a payoff from gambler Arnold Rothstein, MLB Commissioner Keneshaw Mountain Landis announced lifetime bans from baseball for eight members of the White Sox team, including "Say it ain't so, Joe" Shoeless Joe Jackson.

Jackson and many of the other banned White Sox players were extremely popular with the public, and many maintained their innocence of the gambling offense. But Landis refused to modify the lifetime ban and all eight players passed away without reinstatement.

Rose should be no different.

Admire Rose's amazing accomplishments as a player in uniform, and give him his due as an athlete. But do not condone his gambling on his own team. Baseball does not need any more Arnold Rothsteins and Chicago Black Sox.

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