By Alan Robinson
The Associated Press
PITTSBURGH - Count Hall of Famer Ralph Kiner among those who do not want to see Pete Rose enshrined in Cooperstown.
The former Pirates star was emphatic during his visit to Pittsburgh this week that Rose disgraced the game with his gambling and should not be inducted into the Hall of Fame.
Commissioner Bud Selig is weighing whether to reinstate Rose, who accepted a lifetime ban in August 1989, then spent time in prison for failing to pay federal taxes. He acknowledged gambling with bookmakers, but denied betting on baseball.
"The integrity of baseball relies on there being no betting," Kiner said. "From what I understand, he bet on games involving his own team. I don't have a say in whether he gets in, though I do have a vote (on the Veterans' Committee), but I do have a right to say what I think, and I don't think he belongs."
Kiner said there is no question Rose deserves to be enshrined based on his performance on the field. Kiner also said he has no personal grudges against Rose, who always was accommodating and friendly to him when Kiner interviewed him as a Mets broadcaster.
But from the day he first stepped into the Pittsburgh Pirates' clubhouse as a rookie in 1946, Kiner was given the universal warning every player hears: There can be no gambling on baseball in any way, shape or form.
"Every player who has ever played, especially since the Black Sox World Series in 1919, has been told there can't be gambling," Kiner said. "If there's gambling and the integrity of the game (is compromised), it could ruin the game of baseball."
Kiner said Selig has the right to do what he wants with Rose, but that doesn't mean he has to support it.
"People are more forgiving today," Kiner said. "To me, it doesn't make sense. I'm from the old school, and I believe you have to live by the rules. ... Pete Rose is the guy who didn't back up the integrity of the game."
If Rose becomes eligible for induction, he would be placed on the annual ballot sent to the Baseball Writers Association of America. He would not come before the Veterans Committee unless he was bypassed by the writers.
Kiner was honored Tuesday night at the Pirates' home opener. A sculpture in his honor will be placed near the left-field entrance.
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