A hero for the '90s

November 09, 1999|By Arnold Rosenfeld

PETE Rose, late of the Cincinnati Reds, is a hero for our confused, disparate times. One of the finest ballplayers of all time, Charlie Hustle was tossed out of baseball for gambling on the sport.

As part of the punishment, Mr. Rose was barred from the Baseball Hall of Fame -- an honor he richly deserved.

The Hall of Fame is no crucible of character.

Ty Cobb, by all accounts, was a miserable human being. Babe Ruth was scarcely Mother Theresa.

The terms of exile were vague. There was a muzzy promise that some day, under unspecified conditions, the issue could be reopened. Fans now sense the time has come.

Mr. Rose recently appeared in Atlanta as a member of a century's-best team. There, NBC's Jim Gray subjected him to a caustic interview.

The interview was deeply resented. Jim Gray, fans felt, had ruined what might have been a nice, emotional moment. Nothing, in our times, could be worse. Still, Mr. Gray was being a reporter, asking questions that needed answers. Mr. Gray, nevertheless, seems to have entered everybody's hall of infamy.

Pete Rose deserves his Hall of Fame. His fans deserve an explanation.

Arnold Rosenfeld is editor-in-chief of the Cox Newspapers. His e-mail address is arnold.rosenfeld@cox.com.

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