By John Erardi
The Cincinnati Enquirer
NEW YORK - It could be 2009 before Pete Rose is elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame, if he gets elected at all.
This is because Rose now probably won't be reinstated until November at the earliest, if at all, given all the negative fallout generated by his new book, My Prison Without Bars.
If this happens, this means Rose won't be eligible for election to the Hall of Fame by the Baseball Writers' Association of America in 2005 or 2006, as he and his supporters originally had hoped.
Word is, Major League Baseball commissioner Bud Selig is leaning toward giving Rose a two-year probationary period before Rose can be reinstated, which would make him eligible for the Hall. This, in effect, takes Rose out of the hands of the BBWAA.
And if Rose isn't in the Hall by 2006 - his last year of a 15-year window with the BBWAA - he gets kicked over to the Hall's Veterans Committee, which votes every other year in the odd-numbered years: 2003, 2005, 2007 and 2009.
Why would Rose be kicked into the Class of '09? Here's why:
A player has 20 years from the year he retires to be elected by the writers. Rose, whose last game as a player was 1986, has until 2006 to be enshrined by the writers. This 20-year window includes a five-year waiting period after the player retires, and then 15 years on the writers' ballots until the time the player is elected or his eligibility with the writers is exhausted.
A player doesn't get kicked over to the Veterans Committee until a one-year waiting period is served. For Rose, this waiting-period year would be 2007 - an odd-numbered voting year for the Veterans Committee.
In 2008, the Veterans Committee does not vote, which means Rose would first be eligible in 2009.
The Veterans have the same way of electing candidates as the BBWAA: a 75 percent rule. The candidate must be named on at least three of every four ballots.
This is a big number, and most regard it as virtually impossible for Rose to achieve from the Veterans Committee, composed of so many "old-school" guys who regard Rose's betting on baseball to be deplorable.
But Rose has time to work on them.
The Veterans Committee consists of the living members of the Hall of Fame, and the writers (Spink Award winners) and broadcasters (Frick award winners) who are enshrined in those respective wings of the Hall, said Jeff Idelson, the Hall's vice president in charge of public relations.
Selig isn't saying - but he very well might feel - that the Hall of Famers deserve a major say in whether Rose should be allowed to join their hallowed shrine.
While the Hall of Fame is very much a fans' Hall of Fame, it is more of a former players' and managers' Hall of Fame as it regards Rose. Here's why: Every summer, 44 or 45 of the 58 living members of the Hall return to Cooperstown for the induction ceremony and stand behind the newest inductees during the acceptance speeches. It is an august, revered group, including such former players as Stan Musial, Willie Mays, Johnny Bench, Joe Morgan, Tony Perez and Bob Feller, and former managers such as Sparky Anderson and Tommy Lasorda.
Bench, Morgan and Perez are on record as saying they would support Rose's Hall of Fame bid, provided he 'fessed up. Anderson has said all along he would support Rose for the Hall whether he confessed or not.
But Feller is against Rose and so is Lasorda, because Rose broke Baseball's most hallowed law for players and managers: Thou shalt not bet on baseball.
"Just because you get 4,200 hits (4,256 to be exact) doesn't mean you should get in the Hall of Fame no matter what else you do," Feller told the Dayton Daily News. Feller has opposed Rose's reinstatement for years.
Lasorda told the Enquirer last month at the winter meetings in New Orleans that although Rose is a friend of his and is somebody who Lasorda greatly admired as a player, Lasorda does not believe Rose belongs in the Hall of Fame - all because he committed the cardinal sin of betting on baseball games. Lasorda said that although several Hall of Famers have spoken out publicly in Rose's behalf, if a secret ballot were conducted, there would be much less support than one might suspect. Several members of the Hall would boycott Rose's induction ceremony and be asked that their plaques be removed from the Hall of Fame, Lasorda said.
Veterans Committee members
The Veterans Committee contains the living members of the Baseball Hall of Fame (58), the living recipients of the J.G. Taylor Spink Award (10) and the living recipients of the Ford C. Frick Award (14), plus John McHale, a member of the previous 15-man Veterans Committee whose term has not yet expired (his term expires after 2007 elections). Here are the committee members (excluding 2004 inductees):
Hall of Famers: Hank Aaron, Sparky Anderson, Luis Aparicio, Ernie Banks, Johnny Bench, Yogi Berra, George Brett, Lou Brock, Jim Bunning, Rod Carew, Steve Carlton, Gary Carter, Orlando Cepeda, Bobby Doerr, Bob Feller, Rollie Fingers, Carlton Fisk, Whitey Ford, Bob Gibson, Monte Irvin, Reggie Jackson, Fergie Jenkins, Al Kaline, George Kell, Harmon Killebrew, Ralph Kiner, Sandy Koufax, Tom Lasorda, Al Lopez, Lee MacPhail, Juan Marichal, Willie Mays, Bill Mazeroski, Willie McCovey, Joe Morgan, Eddie Murray, Stan Musial, Phil Niekro, Jim Palmer, Tony Perez, Gaylord Perry, Kirby Puckett, Phil Rizzuto, Robin Roberts, Brooks Robinson, Frank Robinson, Nolan Ryan, Mike Schmidt, Red Schoendienst, Tom Seaver, Ozzie Smith, Duke Snider, Don Sutton, Earl Weaver, Billy Williams, Dave Winfield, Carl Yastrzemski, Robin Yount.
Ford C. Frick Award recipients: Marty Brennaman, Herb Carneal, Joe Garagiola, Curt Gowdy, Ernie Harwell, Milo Hamilton, Jaime Jarrin, Harry Kalas, Bob Murphy, Felo Ramirez, Vin Scully, Chuck Thompson, Bob Uecker, Bob Wolff.
J.G. Taylor Spink Award recipients: Bob Broeg, Joe Durso, Joe Falls, Charles Feeney, Jerome Holtzman, Jack Lang, Hal Lebovitz, Hal McCoy, Joe McGuff, Ross Newhan.
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