The chances of Pete Rose being elected into the Baseball Hall of Fame took yet another hit this week, with Bill Shaikin of The Los Angeles Times reporting that the institution’s board of directors denied Rose’s petition for reinstatement to the Hall of Fame ballot. That decision came in December, but hadn’t been publicly reported until Wednesday.
What’s perhaps particularly interesting is that while MLB commissioner Rob Manfred wrote in 2015 that Rose’s lifetime ban from working in baseball (his TV job with FS1 is permitted) would be upheld, he said at that point that the Hall of Fame could make its own decision on Rose. However, Hall president Jeff Idelson told Shaikin that while the institution has Rose artifacts and considers him part of baseball’s story, they’re going to follow suit with MLB on Rose’s ban:
“You certainly can’t tell the history of baseball without including Pete Rose,” Hall of Fame president Jeff Idelson said.
It was not until 1991, two years after Rose agreed to a lifetime ban, that the Hall of Fame instituted a rule precluding banned players from standing for election.
Although Manfred wrote in 2015 that “the considerations that should drive a decision on whether an individual should be allowed to work in baseball are not the same as those that should drive a decision on Hall of Fame eligibility,” the Hall of Fame’s board of directors rejected any distinction.
“We feel it would be incongruous to be putting someone on a ballot that is otherwise banned from the game,” Idelson said.
Rose is far from the only controversial Hall of Fame case out there, but it’s notable that his has fallen short at a different hurdle than most. While the likes of Roger Clemens, Barry Bonds and Curt Schilling haven’t yet gained induction and are hotly-debated, they’re at least on the ballot, so their eventual inclusion or not will be just about if they can convince a sufficient percentage of BBWAA voters. Meanwhile, Rose has been shot down not by the voters, but by the Hall of Fame’s board of directors. It’s far from a sure thing that he would have been elected if he’d made it to the ballot, but it’s interesting that he wasn’t given the chance.
While Rose is still banned from working in baseball and from consideration for the Hall of Fame, he has been involved in the game more in recent years. He’s been working as a MLB analyst for FS1 since April 2015 (MLB said at that point that “The decision to hire on-air talent for its telecasts rests solely with Fox,”), and has won praise for his work on their studio show. He’s been allowed to participate in some celebrations, such as the 2015 all-star game in Cincinnati (seen at top). And the Reds are going to honor him with a statue dedication before their game Saturday. But it’s clear that for now at least, the Hall of Fame will remain closed to Rose. And it seems unlikely that his eligibility will be reconsidered any time soon.