Blowing a Sure Thing: Charlie Hustle and the Baseball Hall of Fame

       By: Murphy James
Posted: 2007-01-08 00:00:49
There are very few "sure things" in life. Most people never see one. But if ever one comes your way, hold on to it and ride it all the way home.Take Pete Rose, for example. The Hall of Fame (full name, The National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum, located in Cooperstown, NY) was a sure thing for this great ball player. All he had to do to realize the "sure thing" was to do the "right thing." On and off the field.No one was ever more deserving of induction into the Hall of Fame. Dubbed "Charlie Hustle" by Yankee great, Whitey Ford, after seeing Rose in his rookie year run to first base with a walk, Pete laid claim to two of baseball's greatest records: most hits (4,256) and most games played (3,562). He always gave his all on the field and once said, "I'd walk through hell in a gasoline suit to play baseball."All he had to do was the "right thing." He didn't. He bet on baseball. After denying that he bet on baseball, he now signs baseballs with, "I'm sorry I bet on baseball. - Pete Rose." These sell for up to $1,000 per.Pete hungers for the Hall of Fame so badly that he has allowed a friend with a collectibles store (which used to be a Baseball Wax Museum), just three blocks from the shrine of baseball, to stick a "Pete Rose Museum" on the second floor of his business. It includes such "hallowed" treasures as a cancelled passport and one of his wife's (also cancelled) credit cards. There is an admission charge but proceeds go to charity: with this, Mr. Hustle is doing the right thing for once.On one Hall of Fame induction day, Pete signed baseballs in the store as those who did the "right thing" were given plaques in the Hall of Fame. Is it the "right thing" to detract attention from those who are being honored up the street on their Big Day?Though Pete is not officially "in" the Hall of Fame, some of his pictures such as crashing into catcher Ray Fosse in an All-Star game, and records are. What is missing is the coveted plaque in the Great Hall, the symbol of acceptance, the crowning touch to a player's career. This is the guy who should be there, the guy who once said, "I'm just like everybody else. I have two arms, two legs, and four-thousand hits."Though the Cincinnati Reds have never officially retired his uniform, Number 14, no one (except his son, Pete Jr. for a brief appearance) has worn it since he left baseball. In March of 2007 the Reds Hall of Fame will include a 2,000 square feet exhibit on Pete's career. It will have many items of memorabilia, including his uniforms from the 1960's, 70's and 80's, game-used equipment, photos and a video documentary. Pete has indicated he will donate some personal memorabilia, including the bat and ball he used to break Ty Cobb's all-time hit record. Pete is thrilled at this recognition.Will Pete Rose ever make it into the Hall of Fame? Should he be inducted into the Hall of Fame? Good questions.Perhaps the answer rests in his understanding of the difference between a "sure thing" and the "right thing."
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