There he was in the center seat with the broadcast team. Laughing, telling stories, and reminiscing. Then he was greeted with loud cheers by the sell out crowd of over 46,000 people at the All Star Game this week. I was a little surprised.

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I guess I should not have been surprised. After all, this was happening in Cincinnati where Pete Rose played and coached the Cincinnati Reds baseball team for 22 years including 3 years as non-playing manager. The Hit King is a home town hero.

Pete Rose 1

Rose is the all-time Major League leader in hits (4,256), games played (3,562), at bats (14,053), singles (3,215), and outs (10,328). He played in 17 All Star games. And yet he remains an outcast in Major League Baseball.

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In August 1989, three years after he retired as an active player, Rose agreed to permanent ineligibility from baseball amidst accusations that he gambled on baseball games while playing for and managing the Reds, including claims that he bet on his own team. Two years later the Baseball Hall of Fame formally voted to ban him and all others on the “permanently ineligible” list from induction.

In 2004, after years of public denial, Rose admitted to betting on baseball and on, but not against, the Reds. Sports writer Tim Brown said  that he is on “his self-inflicted journey – the crimes against baseball, the cover-up, the lies, the life on a game’s periphery.”

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Rose, 74, received special permission from Rob Manfred, Commissioner of Baseball, to appear on the field at the All Star Game as one of the Franchise Four selected by the Cincinnati fans. In an interview after the game Rose said, “I’m the one who screwed up, see, so I can’t get mad at anybody why I’m not where I belong or why I did this or why I did that.” Manfred is expected to meet with Rose at some point to discuss an application for reinstatement, although a date has not been set.

Many sports fans point to the recent steroid scandals and players who got what looked like only a slap on the wrist for violation of the rules. In comparison they believe that Rose has surely paid for his misdeeds and all should be forgotten.

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The Bible suggests that we should be generous with forgiveness. I agree. On one occasion in the scripture people were ready to punish a woman severely for her transgressions. Jesus refused to condemn her and told her to “go and sin no more.”

Have the consequences of Pete Rose’s actions been sufficient? Should he be reinstated to baseball? What Would Jesus Do? I don’t know.

Jamie Jenkins

 

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