The Cincinnati Reds announced this morning that Pete Rose would be inducted into the Reds Hall of Fame. The ceremony will take place the weekend of June 24-26. Pete’s number #14, which has been defacto retired since he wore it, will be officially retired. They’ll also build a statue to join the others from the Big Red Machine era.
There’s lots of hyperventilating about this on the internets. Calm down. Pete Rose had a career that stretched 19 years with the Reds. His performance on the field is certainly worthy of the highest recognition. That’s not remotely debatable.
Induction into the Reds Hall of Fame isn’t canonization. It’s a celebration of Rose the baseball player, not Rose the manager or Rose the man. It’s not like he’s coming back to be the skipper (despite his joke during the press conference) or draw a salary with the club.
Rose’s induction won’t whitewash his gambling scandal. That episode has been in the news once or twice, I think. No one will forget it. I doubt a single person who sees the HOF exhibit will not at some point think about the gambling. That’s a part of Rose’s identity that won’t and shouldn’t be separated.
And the timing isn’t PR-related. This is the first opportunity – post-Selig – that the Reds have been given permission to do it. The decision to honor Pete this summer isn’t about the team the Reds are going to field this year. Does anyone doubt if MLB had given this a green light in 2012 the Reds would have done it then? And even if this was timed to make Reds fans forget about the win-loss record, so what? Are you against all promotions, or just the ones when the team has a losing record? It seems odd to begrudge the organization for trying to put a little “fun” back in the dysfunction.
By now, everyone has their mind made up about Pete. Everything has been said. And by everybody.
Maybe this announcement and event isn’t for you. But it is for other people who derived enjoyment and pride out of watching hometown Pete Rose play for the Reds. I don’t understand why the one group feels like they need to rain on the parade of the other. If you don’t want to join in, don’t.
The bottom line for me is that Pete Rose’s career as a player for the Reds has a place in the Cincinnati Reds Hall of Fame. Nothing more, nothing less.