HOF veterans no less concerned than writers

Updated: January 7, 2004, 5:45 PM ET
Associated Press

Pete Rose's admission that he bet on baseball is not necessarily a key that will unlock the door to Cooperstown.

A sampling of Hall of Fame voters and members shows some have questions about Rose's candidacy. Voting instructions say to consider integrity, sportsmanship and character.

One voter, Frank Luksa of The Dallas Morning News, knows what he'll do if Rose is reinstated by commissioner Bud Selig and comes up for election to the Hall.

"He gets a flat 'No' from me," Luksa said. "I think he crossed the line from which there is no retreat. I'm a hard-liner on that. It's commandment No. 1 of baseball. You are messing with the integrity of the game."

If Rose is reinstated now, he would have two years remaining on the Baseball Writers' Association of America ballot.

If they don't select him, the career hits leader would move on to the veterans committee, where members of the Hall of Fame vote on candidates. In the first such vote last year, the veterans did not elect anyone.

Paul Molitor and Dennis Eckersley, elected to the Hall of Fame on Tuesday, agreed that the timing of Rose's confession was poor because it took away from the 2004 class announcement.

"Nobody denies that Pete Rose had a great career," Hall of Fame president Dale Petroskey said. "The question is what did he do in the last years of his playing and managing career, and that is a decision for the commissioner."

He added that the Hall is not considering any changes in the rules for election that would help or hinder Rose's potential candidacy.

So, would writers vote for Rose?

"No!" said Tracy Ringolsby of the Rocky Mountain News. "He committed the biggest atrocity that can be committed against the sport, the worst crime that can be committed. I don't think anything can be done to disgrace the game more than what he did."

Hal McCoy of the Dayton Daily News covered Rose through all his years in Cincinnati. McCoy would vote for the player -- although he doesn't think Rose belongs on the Hall's ballot.

Tom Gage of the Detroit News was undecided.

"There are reasons to vote for him and reasons not to," he said. "There's no denying he was a great player. I don't like the fact that he lied for 14 years. Do I vote for the player or the person? I'm on the fence and I don't like being there."

Jack Lang, longtime secretary-treasurer of the BBWAA and a member of the writers' wing of the Hall of Fame, said he would not vote for Rose.

"I would sum it up this way," Lang said. "Does he belong in the Hall of Fame? Yes. Does he deserve it? No."

Longtime manager Al Lopez, elected to Cooperstown in 1977, welcomed Rose's admission about gambling.

"It was a smart thing," Lopez said. "He should have done it years ago. I know Pete pretty well and always liked him. I'm sorry he got mixed up in all the things that happened.

"I think he has a good chance" of being elected, Lopez said. "I think as a player, there is no question that he belongs."

Monte Irvin, who joined the Hall in 1973, isn't so sure his fellow members want Rose in the club.

"I know we are a forgiving nation, but some Hall of Famers, especially old-timers, say if Rose is inducted they won't come back," Irvin said. "There are a lot of things that have to be considered."

Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press