The last time Pete Rose wore a big league uniform, the internet was something known only to computer programmers. He’s now a senior citizen but still the same spunky guy who battled baseball over gambling and the government over taxes–and lost. Many fans would prefer to remember him as one of the game’s all-time great players. They come to the Art of Music in Las Vegas to buy an autograph and take a picture with the man who holds the all-time record for hits. The only man alive with more than 4,000.
He’s still in the news. First came his reality show. Then, a couple of weeks ago, a blog post went viral and the whole Rose vs. MLB discussion played out again. His name doesn’t appear on baseball cards–even when the subject is records. Baseball officials say that’s because they don’t want anyone profiting from players who gambled or even have that perception. Topps plays along and takes a public backlash, right or wrong.
Rose is still not in the Hall of Fame and that has people mad. Rose not on baseball cards seems an outrage to more of them.
Former commissioner Fay Vincent told NPR that Rose is “playing” the public because he knows he didn’t just bet on his team to win. He didn’t bet when he thought the other team had a better chance on a certain day. Vincent says that’s something baseball can’t forgive and likely never will. Banning players and managers for life has been an effective deterrent. It’s dueled with steroids but wagering among paid personnel isn’t an issue according to those who run the game.
NPR’s Tom Goldman caught up with Rose in Vegas where he talked about the baseball card flap, chatted with fans and playfully messed with a few others. Listen to his report below (it may take a moment to load).