Saturday, January 17, 2004

Aaron believes Rose ban should stay in place

By The Associated Press

ATLANTA - Hank Aaron is adamant: Pete Rose has no place in the Hall of Fame, or anywhere in baseball.

The all-time home run leader harshly criticized the career hit king for an insincere confession, saying Rose should not be reinstated after admitting he bet on the game.

"During these past few days, I've looked at Pete on television, and he hasn't given any signs of an honest confession," Aaron told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution in an interview published in Friday editions.

"Plus, I've seen absolutely no truth whatsoever in what he's saying," he said.

Aaron, a vice president with the Atlanta Braves, said Rose should be treated like anyone else who gambles on games.

"I just think it's hogwash to say that he should be put back into the game just because the public wants it," Aaron said. "A rule is a rule, and the rule is on every clubhouse door that you can't bet on baseball. It doesn't say that you're excluded if you have 4,000 hits or 700 home runs."

Rose admitted betting on baseball while managing the Cincinnati Reds in the 1980s. He accepted a lifetime ban from the game, which bars him from consideration for the Hall of Fame.

That's the way it should be, according to Aaron.

"What are you going to do about Shoeless Joe Jackson?" he asked, referring to the player who was banned after he and seven teammates were accused of throwing the 1919 World Series. "Ted Williams said many days to me that (Jackson) didn't have anything to do with the scandal. If you let Pete in, you have to deal with that."

Aaron is also skeptical of Rose's claims, considering he is still a recreational gambler who doesn't see the need for professional help.

"It's just like an alcoholic saying that he doesn't drink whiskey anymore, but he still drinks beer," Aaron said. "Pete says that even though he isn't a gambler anymore, he still bets on the horses. That's bad."

In addition, Aaron is perturbed that Rose's book came out just before Paul Molitor and Dennis Eckersley were voted into the Hall of Fame.

"The timing of when he said all of this was very bad," Aaron said. "I'm still quite angry with it."

During Aaron's frequent travels from his Atlanta home to Milwaukee for business purposes, he chats often with commissioner Bug Selig. Aaron doesn't expect Rose to be reinstated anytime soon.

"I know how Bud thinks, so I'm guessing it'll be later," Aaron said.

That said, he never has never discussed the Rose matter with Selig. Aaron would like the commissioner to meet with small groups of Hall of Famers to get their feelings on Rose before making any decision on reinstatement.

"I don't want people to think that, if I go to Bud, he'll gravitate to my opinion," Aaron said.

Aaron is the second Hall of Famer this week to come out against Rose's reinstatement. In an open letter Wednesday, Ferguson Jenkins said, "Knowing what I know now, I will never support your reinstatement to the game or your bid for the Hall."

Jenkins had previously supported Rose's bid for Cooperstown.

"It's so apparent now with the gambling issue, he's kind of lost my vote," Jenkins said.

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