Pete Rose has reared his ugly head again this week, releasing a "tell-all" book in which he finally admits he bet on baseball...after lying and denying for fourteen years. Rose seems to hope that this will help him earn reinstatement to the good graces of Major Leage Baseball.
I hope it helps him burn in Hell.
When I was four years old, my grandfather came back from a trip to Cincinnati with a copy of a book that Rose had written, a diary of the 1973 season titled "Charlie Hustle." I was captivated by it, especially as an early reader, and Rose became my favorite player, my idol. I was young, and life was good.
I was born a right handed hitter, and I was a real good one from the start of my first season of play at five years old. This was back before T-Ball, when adults actually threw the ball to kids underhanded. But at the age of seven, I decided that I wanted to be more like Pete, and I began learning how to also hit from the left side of the plate. Rose was a switch hitter, and I didn't want to let my hero down by not trying and succeeding at it. So I did.
And that was the way my youth played out. If Rose put another book out, I bought it. If there was a new Rose baseball card, I did my damnedest to get one. If Rose was going to be on TV, I either set the VCR, or I was home to see it. I cried when he broke Ty Cobb's all-time hit record. Baseball was my first love, and Rose was the representation of that love.
Then I moved off to college, that intensity behind me perhaps, but those memories and those feelings golden. I'd even wear number 14 in his honor that first year of college. But then the shit hit the fan.
Reports surfaced that Rose had been betting on baseball, and that the Commissioner was investigating him. I didn't want it to be true. At first, I believed Rose's protestations that it was nothing but a huge witchhunt with no valid purpose. But it seemed like every week that I opened my mailbox and pulled out the latest Sports Illustrated, the allegations and the proof got more and more detailed and it was harder to deny Rose's actions in my heart.
Then came his banishment, his refusal to admit his wrongdoing, and his utter absence of anything resembling an apology. Prison followed because of tax reasons, but the damage was already done...to every kid like me.
Rose has now published his horrid, and ultimately un-contrite, book admitting his wrongs, but he still doesn't get it, and he still hasn't turned his apologies or contrition in the direction they should have gone fourteen years ago.
How many of us were there? How many kids worshipped Rose's clay feet, and were destroyed inside by that ordeal in 1989? How many had so much of their childhood darkened and ruined by Rose's greed and stupidity?
But Rose doesn't care. He only cares about getting that plaque in Cooperstown and about making money. For years, I felt as though he should be re-instated if he apologized, and apologized to the right people and meant it. But he hasn't. Instead, he's cast a pall over this year's Hall Of Fame selections by drawing the attention to himself, rather than waiting his turn. So fuck Pete Rose. Fuck him, and don't ever let him in the Hall Of Fame. Not while he's drawing breath on this planet. Because he's destroyed and ruined to many things; kids' dreams, the integrity of the game of baseball; and any feeling that he could ever be rehabilitated into someone worthy of the Hall. Never. No forgiveness.