Pete Rose retired from baseball in 1986. His induction into the Hall of Fame after the five year waiting period was certain--there was even speculation he would be a unanimous first ballot selection.
Then gambling accusations and tax evasion surfaced. Rose eventually admitted to betting on sports and was accused of betting on baseball (but not his own team). In 1989, commissioner Bart Giamatti suspended Rose from baseball for life for gambling. In 1990, Rose paid his debt to society for a separate crime by serving five months in prison for tax evasion.
This left baseball in a curious situation. It had banned one of its best players from the game and yet he would soon be inducted into the Hall of Fame, baseball's holiest shrine. In 1989, the eligibility rules were changed to forbid entry in to the Hall of Fame by players banned from Major League Baseball. This kept Rose out of the Hall of Fame. I believe that this has to change. Rose belongs in the Hall of Fame. I firmly believe that the following three factors make my position inarguable: .
First, and weakest of all, the Hall of Fame is not made up of saints or people who were role models. Some of the greatest players in the Hall of Fame do not have the cleanest reputations. In a similar situation Bowie Kuhn, a past commissioner of baseball, suspended Hall of Fame legends Mickey Mantle and Willie Mays for their connections to certain public figures in casinos, which were later overthrown after six years. If ethics is preventing Pete Rose from being admitted into the Hall of Fame, then what happens to those players with criminal records, drug scandals, or illegitimate children with different women? Ty Cobb, the player Pete Rose was chasing to become the all-time hits leader, killed a man and admitted to it. Of all players in history to have troubled times, Babe Ruth, arguably on the greatest players to play the game, if not the greatest, had a reputation for being somewhat flirtatious towards women and an alcoholic.