Rose submitted his latest appeal for reinstatement to MLB on Wednesday, calling his lifetime ban “disproportionate relative to other punishments imposed for serious violations that also undermined the integrity of the game.”
“Pete Rose played Major League Baseball for 24 seasons, from 1963-1986, and had more hits, 4,256, than any other player (by a wide margin)," Trump wrote. “He gambled, but only on his own team winning, and paid a decades long price. GET PETE ROSE INTO THE BASEBALL HALL OF FAME. It’s Time!”
Rose cited the sign-stealing scandal involving the Houston Astros and the 2018 reinstatement of former New York Mets pitcher Jenrry Mejia, the first MLB player to receive a lifetime ban for performance-enhancing drug use, as reasons he deems his punishment unfair.
“Mr. Rose continues to express repentance for his acts in violation of Major League Rule 21,” the petition reads. “However, in recent years, intentional and covert acts by current and past owners, managers, coaches, and players altered the outcomes of numerous games, including the World Series, and illegally enhanced both team and player performance. It has never been suggested, let alone established, that any of Mr. Rose’s actions influenced the outcome of any game or the performance of any player. Yet for the thirty-first year and counting, he continues to suffer a punishment vastly disproportionate to those who have done just that. Given the manner in which Major League Baseball has treated and continues to treat other egregious assaults on the integrity of the game, Mr. Rose’s ongoing punishment is no longer justifiable as a proportional response to his transgressions.”
Trump for years has called for baseball to welcome back Rose, the three-time World Series champion, three-time batting champion and 17-time all-star who also still holds the records for games played, at-bats and plate appearances.
“We gotta let Pete Rose in the Hall of Fame,” Trump said at a 2016 campaign rally in a Cincinnati suburb. “I don’t know what Major League Baseball is doing.”
Days before that declaration, Trump boasted about receiving an autographed ball from Rose that read, “Mr. Trump, Please Make America Great Again.”
But a spokesman for Rose rushed to caution fans that Rose did not endorse political candidates and did not send Trump the ball.
“Though he respects everyone who works hard for our country — any outlet that misinterpreted a signed baseball for an endorsement was wrong,” the spokesman told The Washington Post. “Pete did not send any candidate a baseball or a note of endorsement.”
Plus, memorabilia experts noted, Rose will sign a baseball with almost any inscription. Rose has signed baseballs with messages including, “I’m sorry I shot J.F.K.” and “I was the 1st man on the moon.” The Wall Street Journal reported in 2013 that Rose makes more than a million dollars each year signing autographs and taking photos in Las Vegas, where he lives.
He’s even signed autographs with the message, “I’m Sorry I Bet On Baseball.”
MLB officials received Rose’s reinstatement petition and will review it, according to the New York Post.
Rose was permanently banned from baseball in 1989 by then-commissioner A. Bartlett Giamatti after an investigation found that he had bet on baseball games, including those played by the Reds when he was Cincinnati’s manager. Rose signed an agreement accepting the punishment but did not admit to violating MLB Rule 21, which prohibits players and team officials from betting on baseball games. In 1991, he was banned from the Hall of Fame after its board of directors ruled that no player on the ineligible list could be inducted.
In a 2004 book, however, Rose did admit publicly to betting on baseball games, including Reds games.
Two years earlier, in an attempt at reinstatement, Rose admitted to gambling on baseball games during a meeting with then-commissioner Bud Selig. That petition was denied, along with another attempt in 2015. In declining that petition, MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred said Rose had “not presented credible evidence of a reconfigured life either by an honest acceptance by him of his wrongdoing … or by a rigorous, self-aware and sustained program of avoidance by him of all the circumstances that led to his permanent ineligibility in 1989.”
Manfred’s rejection stemmed in part because the former player and manager admitted he still gambled legally on sporting events in Las Vegas, where he lives. Since then, however, the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that every state, not only Nevada, may allow sports gambling, and a number of states already have instituted the practice.
Last month, MLB announced one-year suspensions for Houston Astros manager A.J. Hinch and general manager Jeff Luhnow over their roles in an extensive sign-stealing scheme employed by the team during its run to the 2017 World Series title. (The Astros promptly fired both of them.) No Astros players were punished, even though the MLB investigation found that the sign-stealing scheme was “player-driven and player-executed.”
The Wall Street Journal reported on Friday, though, that Houston began cultivating a software system to steal signs, nicknamed “Codebreaker,” late in the 2016 season. Using an illegal center field camera, an Astros staffer would log the stolen signs into a spreadsheet, then run an algorithm to determine an opponent’s sequencing and what all the signs meant. Houston’s front office joked that the program came from the franchise’s “dark arts” department.
Luhnow was reportedly briefed on Codebreaker’s capabilities, but denied that he knew it was used illegally. MLB officials maintained they lacked sufficient proof to punish Luhnow for overseeing use of the software.
In 2018, Manfred reinstated Mejia, who in 2016 had tested positive for performance-enhancing drugs for a third time, triggering a lifetime ban. Manfred said Mejia “expressed regret for poor choices he made in the past and assured me that, if reinstated, he would adhere to the terms of the [drug] program going forward."
But in his petition, Rose also noted that he had “publicly and repeatedly expressed remorse for the consequences of his misconduct” and that his lifetime ban has become disproportionately stringent, in light of recent MLB rulings.
“A fair and rational assessment of threats to the integrity of the game and proportional penalties for those acts must consider the impacts of rules violations on the outcomes of actual games,” the petition notes. “By this measure, compared to the actions of Mr. Rose, many of the subsequent scandals occurring during the years in which he has been exiled equally, or perhaps even more so, undermine the integrity of baseball and the fairness of the game. Yet the penalty received by Mr. Rose for his actions has already been far more significant than any penalty received for violations in the years since.”