May 5, 2009
Pete Rose and the Hall of Fame (my answer to Reppert; no atheism content)
Friend of EC Victor Reppert asks:
Should someone who commits a baseball-related criminal offense be allowed in the Hall of Fame? If so, then shouldn’t baseball rethink Pete Rose, a player who, in his own right, earned his major baseball achievements honestly, whatever else he might have done to besmirch the game.
Can anyone think of a good reason to suppose that Bonds should be in the Hall of Fame, while Rose should remain out?
One answer, from a student of mine, said that Bonds should be in because he did not break a rule in place at the time.
Okay, this requires a little bit to unpack, because on the surface you might think there is an equivalency to be drawn between Barry Bonds and Pete Rose, in that they both broke the law.
But Pete Rose is not out of the Hall of Fame because he’s a lawbreaker (or because he’s “immoral” or a “bad person,” as the folks who like to bring up Ty Cobb as a counterexample often suggest). Lawbreakers, jerks, racists, drunks, and other associated bad guys do (and should) get elected to the Hall of Fame.
No, the reason Pete Rose isn’t in the Hall of Fame is much more simple: Pete Rose agreed to a lifetime ban from the game of baseball (including the Hall of Fame) in exchange for former Commissioner Bart Giamatti dropping baseball’s investigation against him. More specifically, Rose voluntarily entered a written plea bargain in which he agreed to permanent placement on baseball’s ineligible list so as to avoid uncovering facts that almost certainly would have led to criminal prosecution.
Required reading: the Dowd Report.