Donald J. Trump, the Republican presidential nominee front-runner, repaid Pete Rose, the latest former athlete who appears to have endorsed the candidate.
Speaking in Ohio, where Rose starred with the Cincinnati Reds before being banned from baseball for life for gambling, Trump was succinct. “We gotta let Pete Rose in the Hall of Fame, he told a West Chester, Ohio, crowd.
Rose, who played for and managed the Reds, remains enormously popular in Ohio, where a critical primary is being held Tuesday, and earlier Sunday he offered what appeared to be an endorsement, writing as he autographed a baseball: “Mr. Trump, please make American great again.”
Sorry to break it to Trump, but Rose has been known to write all sorts of things on baseballs. Rose, FiveThirtyEight.com notes, “likes to lampoon his situation” and “in certain circumstances he’ll sign baseballs with ‘I’m sorry I broke up the Beatles’ or ‘I’m sorry I shot JFK.’”
So Rose’s endorsement might be somewhat tongue-in-cheek.
Still, Trump has, at least twice in the past, tweeted his support for overturning Rose’s ban.
Perhaps President Trump could change things for baseball’s all-time hits leader, but, for now, that is up to baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred. He isn’t at all inclined to reverse the ban put in place by Bart Giamatti in 1989; just last December, he denied a bid for reinstatement.
“I am also not convinced that he has avoided the type of conduct and associations that originally led to his placement on the permanently ineligible list,” Manfred wrote.
For now, Rose’s ban is “money in the bank,” as FiveThirtyEight’s headline puts it. Kostya Kennedy writes:
As much as Rose might like to get inducted one day, he is not blind to the notoriety that his banishment has given him, nor to the understanding that, in the autograph trade, it may have helped his bottom line. “You know,” he once said to me. “Not being in the Hall of Fame — that’s my shtick!”
For the right price, I’m sure, Rose will write that on a baseball for you.