WATCH a WCPO video "The Day Pete Rose Was Banned From Baseball," in the player above.
CINCINNATI -- The Hit King is trying a new approach to get on the ballot for the National Baseball Hall of Fame before he dies.
Pete Rose's attorneys sent a seven-page letter to the president of the Hall of Fame on Tuesday arguing that Rose has been "unjustly kept from consideration" for induction and appealing for a chance for election by the baseball writers.
Rose can only get on the ballot if the Hall of Fame Board rescinds or amends the so-called "Pete Rose Rule" - because it was adopted specifically to keep Rose out of the Hall.
"Pete Rose turned 75 years old this past April," the letter begins. "As you of course know, Pete has never been eligible for consideration for nomination to the Hall of Fame. Beyond his relationships with his family, friends, former teammates and players, nothing means more to him than the opportunity to at least be considered for Hall of Fame membership."
Rose, baseball's all-time hit leader with 4,256, was banned from baseball in 1989 for betting on Reds games as their manager. Two years later, then Commissioner Fay Vincent convinced the Hall of Fame Board to disqualify Rose and anyone on baseball's ineligible list from being considered for the Hall.
The Hall of Fame ban was not part of the agreement that Rose signed with then Commissioner Bart Giamatti in 1989 when Giamatti banned him from the game.
“At the time Pete agreed to the settlement, the consequences of being placed on the ineligible list were clear and specific – and did not include a Hall of Fame prohibition,” the petition reads.
Last December, Commissioner Rob Manfred turned down Rose's request for reinstatement, which would have made him eligible to go on the Hall of Fame ballot. But Manfred also questioned the Hall of Fame's ban on Rose, saying his standard for keeping Rose from working in baseball was higher than the Hall of Fame needed to set for Rose's eligibility.
“It is not part of my authority or responsibility here to make any determination concerning Mr. Rose’s eligibility as a candidate for election to the National Baseball Hall of Fame. In fact, in my view, the considerations that should drive a decision on whether an individual should be allowed to work in Baseball are not the same as those that should drive a decision on Hall of Fame eligibility," Manfred said.
It would take a vote of 16-member Hall of Fame board - which includes Manfred and Reds' greats Joe Morgan and Frank Robinson, both former Rose teammates - to rescind Vincent's rule and make Rose eligible for any Hall of Fame ballot.
Rose's petition specifically requests for him to be on baseball writers' ballot and not a veteran committee's. That's important for two reasons: 1) Rose thinks he has a better chance of being elected by the baseball writers, and 2) he would be considered annually for up to 10 years, as long as he got 5 percent of the vote.
Two years ago, a Hall of Fame vice-president told WCPO its plan for a Rose election if the Hit King ever became eligible. Under the plan, an Era Committee that votes every three years would vote on Rose. He could have been up for election this year but not again until 2019.
But all that has changed.
A few months ago, the Hall of Fame revamped the Era Committee setup. Now Rose would be considered by the Modern Baseball Committee, which meets next at the 2017 Winter Meetings for induction in 2018 and again at the 2019 Winter Meetings for induction in 2020. Going forward, the Modern Baseball Committee will meet twice every five years, so it wouldn't meet again until 2022, when Rose would be 81.
"We humbly submit to you that Rule 3A should be amended in a limited way, to allow Pete Rose to be treated in exactly the same way as every other player and manager before him had been treated," the attorneys wrote. "He should be given a window of eligibility to be considered by the Baseball writers for the Hall of Fame."
Rule 3A states that, to be eligible for the writers' vote, a player must have been active in the major leagues during a period beginning 15 years before and ending five years prior to election. Rose last played in 1986 - 30 years ago. That's why the Hall of Fame has earmarked him for a veterans committee.
Rose's attorneys want him to get the same 10-year window every player gets - and Rose would have started in 1991 if he hadn't been declared ineligible seven months before the ballots were mailed. It would have been Rose's first year on the ballot.
Rose's detractors will counter his attorneys' letter by pointing to new betting evidence reported by ESPN last year. ESPN said it recovered pages from a New York bookie's notebook that show that Rose bet on Reds games while he was still playing - a claim Rose has steadfastly denied to this day.
Though Manfred appeared conciliatory about Rose getting on the Hall of Fame ballot, he was adamant about not allowing Rose back in baseball.
"Mr. Rose has not presented evidence of a reconfigured life either by an honest acceptance by him of his wrongdoing, so clearly established by the Dowd Report, or by a rigorous, self-aware and sustained program of avoidance by him of all the circumstances that led to his permanent ineligibility," Manfred said in announcing his decision.
"Absent such credible evidence, allowing him to work in the game presents an unaccepted risk of a future violation of Rule 21 by him, and thus to the integrity of our sport. I, therefore, must reject Mr. Rose's application for reinstatement."
Baseball's Rule 21 prohibits anyone working in baseball from betting on games with the penalty of a one-year suspension. Rule 21(c) says anyone who bets on his own team is banned permanently. Rose denied betting on the Reds for 15 years until he admitted it in his autobiography in 2004.
One day after Manfred's decision, one of Rose's attorneys appealed to the Hall of Fame to let Rose on the ballot before he dies. At the same news conference, Rose said he held out hope that he could be inducted some day - even if he dies trying.
"If I kick the bucket, my son could come and give the speech," Rose said.
In recent years, Manfred and his predecessor, Bud Selig, eased some of the restrictions that kept the Reds from honoring Rose and prevented Rose from participating in many baseball events.
Manfred allowed the Reds to retire Rose's No. 14 and induct him to the Reds Hall of Fame last June. Selig cleared the way for Rose to participate in All-Star Game festivities here in 2015.