Transcript: No Love for Pete Rose

This is a partial transcript of The Big Story With John Gibson, Jan. 8, 2004, that has been edited for clarity.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I still don't think he should be in the Hall of Fame for that reason. Most people in Cincinnati would disagree with that because he's, you know, a local hero there.


JOHN GIBSON, HOST: Outside the Cincinnati area, Pete Rose (search) isn't feeling a lot of love lately after admitting he did bet on baseball. But he is certainly cashing in with a new book hitting the shelves today.

Baseball's hit king is also trying to get back into the game's good graces and the Hall of Fame (search).

Baseball historian David Pietrusza joins me now from Albany, New York, to talk about the Rose scandal and the big question: Is Pete Rose running just another -- David, pardon the expression -- hustle?

DAVID PIETRUSZA, BASEBALL HISTORIAN: He certainly is and he's got long track records of doing it. Up until this point, he seemed to be generating a lot of sympathy, but this has just completely blown up in his face.

GIBSON: Do you think that he thought that by admitting -- well, you know, let's be frank. People said for years Pete Rose isn't getting back in baseball. He's not going to go in the Hall of Fame until he does admit.

So he goes ahead and admits it and he's met with, well, we already knew that, we knew you were lying all along, and now we're not going to let you in.

PIETRUSZA: Absolutely graceless, clueless, the combination of ruining the Hall of Fame induction for Eckersley and Molitor, the one-million dollar book deal, the fact that he's sat on this information that he gave to Bud Selig (search) so many months ago.

The combination of all these things reaches critical mass in the nostrils of America.

GIBSON: What about -- how bad is it? The other day Tom Vertucci told us, who had seen the book -- and maybe you know this as well -- that Rose was, to use your phrase, graceless about Bart Jomadi, about Fay Vincent, about John Dowd, still attacking them, even though he admitted they were right.

PIETRUSZA: Absolutely. And trashing the people that were his associates in gambling. Also, he's betrayed the people who were his defenders. I wasn't one of them. But if I had been, I'd feel absolutely betrayed and embarrassed by this.

GIBSON: Do you think that the easiest thing for Bud Selig to do is just ignore this?

PIETRUSZA: I think he should. But Bud Selig has dug himself into a hole by allowing Pete Rose to participate in so many of baseball's premier events. He had gone a long way to undercutting his moral position.

Now I think the entire momentum of the case has reversed, however, and that the public is no longer demanding a Rose reinstatement. Certain elements are, but, boy, I'd like to see the poll numbers now.

GIBSON: But isn't it true that, embroiled in this controversy, as Selig is, the easiest thing for him to do is nothing. Just ignore it.

PIETRUSZA: The tie goes to see the runner. The tie goes against Rose. Simple inaction keeps Rose in. The rule that Rose violated said a permanent ban. Permanent is forever, Pete.

GIBSON: But does it make any difference to you that while he bet for his team to win, he didn't, or at least claims, that he didn't bet against his team?

PIETRUSZA: Well, again, that's what the rule states. I mean, obviously if he had bet against it, it would have been far, far worse. But I don't know how much far worse than permanent one can be.

This is a rule which has existed in baseball since 1927. I worked on a book once with Ted Williams. Ted was very much in favor of letting Shoeless Joe Jackson (search) in the game.

But he had lived with this rule in the clubhouse, as every major leaguer has for the last 70, 60 years, and the vast majority have little sympathy for Pete Rose breaking it.

GIBSON: David, I'm soon out of time so let me ask you for a quick answer. Is there some advantage for Pete Rose to remain outside of baseball to be sort of a living Shoeless Joe Jackson?

PIETRUSZA: Absolutely. Because it's one thing to be the best player not in the Hall of Fame and it's another thing to be the 150th best. Where 10 years ago, we did a lot of talk about Phil Rosuto not being in. Since he got in, the conversation ends.

The worst thing you can do to Pete Rose, P.R.-wise and monetarily, is to let him in the Hall of Fame and out of the spotlight.

GIBSON: David Pietrusza. David, thanks very much.

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