Aug. 24: A day in baseball infamy:
August 24 is a memorable day in Major League Baseball history, for on August 24, 1989, there was no joy in Mudville. “Charlie Hustle” had struck out.
On that day in 1989, Pete Rose, manager of the Cincinnati Reds and all-time Major League leader in hits (4,256), games played (3,562), at-bats. (14,053), singles (3,215) and outs, (10,328) was banned from baseball for life for gambling on the sport.
For Rose, that was more than a slap on the hand. It was the end of his baseball career and, records aside, barred from induction into Cooperstown.
The cross-county reaction to Rose’s ban from baseball was two-sided, but his records stood and many believed that Pete Rose should be eligible to be in Cooperstown, in the National Baseball Hall of Fame.
Dan Smith of Troy, and a fan and follower of baseball from recreation to the majors, said it is unfortunate that two of the greatest players of this lifetime, Pete Rose and “Shoeless” Joe Jackson, were involved in baseball scandals.
“Even with their accomplishments on the field, the rules were clear to all professional baseball players, they could not bet on baseball, period. Not on your team or any other team,” Smith said. “They knew the rules and they broke them.”
Smith said steroid use is a new avenue of cheating in sports today and his hopes are that all sports will make steroid use a ban for induction into the halls of fame.
Smith said cheating of any kind puts a dark cloud on any sport and diminishes the positive influence of the athletes.
“Growing up, my brother, Ben, and I played baseball in the yard,” Smith said. “We grew up in the golden era of extremely talented baseball players and we looked up to them.
Smith said Pete Rose beat Ty Cobb as the all-time leader in base hits. Pete Rose gave 110 percent on every play. He dove head-first into base and he got dirty. A lot of young boys wanted to play like him, 110 percent on every play.
Smith said young boys especially look up to their sports heroes and that’s a big responsibility for the players coupled with the responsibility to play within the rules.
Dan Smith is a fan of baseball; he also believes in playing strictly by their rules.
As for Pete Rose and whether he should be eligible for induction to the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, “Pete Rose knew the rules,” Smith said. “He knew the rules.”