Wednesday, August 13, 2003

Baseball denies latest Rose rumor

Web report of reinstatement is false

By John Erardi
The Cincinnati Enquirer

Baseball denied an Internet report Tuesday that it has reached an agreement with Pete Rose to reinstate him and open the door for him manage a team in 2005.

"The story that appeared on the Baseball Prospectus Web site (Tuesday) regarding the return of Pete Rose to baseball in 2004 and the alleged written agreement that had been reached by Rose and Commissioner (Bud) Selig is unsubstantiated and totally unfounded," Bob DuPuy, Major League Baseball president and chief operating officer, said in a written statement. "The report is wholly inaccurate..."

In the Internet report, subtitled, "Exclusive - He's Back in Baseball in 2004," writers Derek Zumsteg and Will Carroll attributed to "sources" that Rose and MLB "reached an agreement that would allow him to return to baseball in 2004" and "includes no admission of wrongdoing" by Rose.

According to the Web story, the agreement allows Rose to be "employed by a team in the 2004 season, as long as that position does not involve the day-to-day operations. That employment restriction would be removed after a year, allowing Rose to return to managing a team as early as the 2005 season if a position is offered to him."

Warren Greene, Rose's business agent, did not return calls from the Enquirer.

The part of the Internet story that could cause problems for Rose if it turns out to be true is that there would be "no admission of wrongdoing."

Rose wants back into baseball mainly so he can manage again. Secondary to that, he'd like to be elected to the Baseball of Fame. Reinstatement would get him before the writers on their annual ballot. But without an admission of just what it is he did to get himself banished from baseball in 1989, it won't be easy to get the 75 percent of the votes necessary for election, experts said. His last year on the baseball writers' annual ballot is December 2005.

"I'd have to know the conditions of the reinstatement before I could say whether I'd vote for him," said Jack O'Connell, secretary-treasurer of the Baseball Writers Association of America. "Several writers I've spoken with about (reinstatement) are hoping he says something. On the other hand, he's in a Catch-22: If he admits he bet on baseball," some of the voters who have been defending him might be less inclined to vote him in.

Needing 75 percent of the vote doesn't allow for much controversy.

"I think he has a better chance (of being elected) if he comes clean," said Paul Hagen, president of the BBWAA. "If he says, 'I did it, I regret it' and does the whole mea culpa, his chances (greatly) improve."

Although Rose has a lot of support for the Hall, a lack of acknowledgement of the wrongdoing could make it hard to get three of every four votes of the 600-plus BBWAA electorate, Hagen said.

"It (the 75 percent) is not a slam dunk," Hagen said. "Even if he were to be reinstated in time (for consideration) and was elected, I think his vote would be closer to 75 percent than 95 percent."

Hagen said his hunch is that if Rose isn't elected before his final year on the ballot, he'll make it then, if barely.

Robert Anglen contributed.

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