There had never been a more automatic Hall of Fame selection than Pete Rose--nor a player more obsessed with membership.
Even now, facing a year’s suspension or worse because of his alleged gambling activities, he bristles at suggestions that he should no longer be considered for the Hall.
Who needs a statistical service when you have Rose?
“I got 4,256 hits. I got 2,165 runs. That’s all I did,” he said the other day.
“I’m a Hall of Famer. Next question.”
Sparky Anderson agrees. Said Rose’s former manager with the Cincinnati Reds:
“There are a lot of derelicts in the Hall of Fame. He should only be judged on his record, not what his personal life is. When I walk through the Hall of Fame I want to see the greatest players. I don’t want to know if a guy has been divorced five times or murdered somebody.”
Nobody has Sparky’s way with words, but he seems to be missing an ethical point or two.
True, the Hall doesn’t represent a gathering of saints.
True, a number of voters may have overstepped their conservator rights in the last election by failing to support Gaylord Perry because he threw a greaseball or two, and Ferguson Jenkins because he was once cited for drug possession.
But consorting with gamblers and underworld figures? Jeopardizing integrity by piling up large debts and betting on your own business?
Forget it. The FBI and IRS will keep Rose’s statistics. The Hall of Shame will save him a niche.
It has been reported that Rose has been selling off his memorabilia to pay gambling debts.
Nothing new, apparently.
One Orange County dealer said:
“It’s common knowledge in our business that Rose has moved thousands of dollars in memorabilia over the last few years.
“He wears a uniform once, signs it and puts it out for bid. He probably lets 30 to 40 uniforms out a year.”
A Rose uniform top goes for about $1,000. An early flannel may be four times that. A Rose bat brings about $250. An autographed picture may go for as much as $40. The dealer said that Rose was paid $100,000 for appearing at a weekend card show in Atlantic City, N.J., last year, but another dealer, Randy Thyberg of Thyberg Sports Marketing in Buena Park, said Rose’s appearance fees generally run between $2,000 and $20,000 a day, and that he books Rose for eight to 12 shows a year.
Will the current problems affect Rose’s appeal?
“Not if Wade Boggs is any indication,” Thyberg said. “Since the thing with Margo (Adams) broke in the media, Wade has been twice as popular. The fact that he won another batting title may have something to do with it, but he definitely hasn’t been hurt (by the Margo publicity).”
Boggs’ teammates with the Boston Red Sox are said to have quietly formed a clubhouse pool--listening, Pete?--as to when Boggs will be traded.
The Red Sox--angered by Boggs’ decision to appear on the television show “20/20" against club wishes and concerned about the lingering undercurrent of clubhouse unrest regarding Boggs--are determined to trade him.
There need be no more evidence of that determination than Boston’s offer of Boggs for Howard Johnson and Sid Fernandez of the New York Mets. It was a virtual giveaway that the Mets rejected because of their reported unwillingness to take on another major salary.
The Red Sox are reportedly talking to half a dozen clubs--even the division rival New York Yankees--but Boggs’ contract situation looms as more of a stumbling block than the Margo fallout. Boggs is guaranteed $1.7 million this year and is eligible for free agency when the season ends.
Pitcher Jack Morris of the Detroit Tigers ripped his club for trading close friend Tom Brookens to the Yankees for pitcher Charlie Hudson.
Morris said that owner Tom Monaghan, a classic car collector, sold something more valuable than a Bugatti and that Manager Sparky Anderson “gave away” a guy who personified the two ingredients Anderson is always touting: quality and character.
“They’ve taken away two guys who were the guts of this team in character--Brookens and Darrell Evans,” Morris said. “If they take away two more--Alan Trammell and Dave Bergman--we’ll have no character at all. We’ll just have a pile of people.”
The trading of Brookens for Hudson, who will be the Tigers’ fifth starter, was one of three trades Detroit made Thursday.
The Tigers also traded pitcher Eric King for Chicago White Sox outfielder Kenny Williams, who will open in center because Gary Pettis, sidelined by a thumb injury, is expected to start the season on the disabled list, and sent utility man Luis Salazar to San Diego for infielder Mike Brumley, who will be a backup for Trammell or possible leadoff man as a designated hitter.
Remarkably, the Tigers finished only one game behind Boston in the American League East last year, and Anderson is again scoffing at the prognosticators.
“They’re picking us to finish fifth again, but you can mark my words--in September we’ll be leading or near the top.”
Brookens will platoon some with Mike Pagliarulo at third base for the Yankees and occasionally play shortstop now that Rafael Santana is expected to have elbow surgery that could put him out for most of the year.
Dave Winfield is also expected to miss most of the season because of back surgery for a ruptured disk.
Of a spring in which second baseman Steve Sax was also sidelined by a rib injury, center-field candidate Bob Brower went down with a groin pull, shortstop Wayne Tolleson was sidetracked by a hamstring strain and pitchers John Candelaria and Dave Righetti have made only two appearances because of knee and shoulder problems respectively, owner George Steinbrenner said:
“I don’t know whether it’s the conditioning, the treatment or the diagnosis, but we’re getting too many injuries.
“We’re not going to have a terrible team, but you can’t make chicken salad out of--well, that other stuff.”
There is no replacing Winfield, but Mel Hall, obtained from the Cleveland Indians for catcher Joel Skinner, will try. Hall was thrilled to escape Cleveland and a platoon role at best. Asked if he ever thought he would wear pinstripes, he said:
“Yeah, in prison.”
Steinbrenner continues to take his toll: 18 managers and 29 pitching coaches in his 17 years as owner, and now he is losing his ninth publicity director.
Harvey Greene, maybe his best yet and certainly one of baseball’s best, has had it and is accepting a similar post with the Miami Dolphins despite Steinbrenner’s reportedly having told Dolphin owner Joe Robbie that he would hold back support for an expansion team for Joe Robbie Stadium if Robbie hired Greene.
On the Yankee bright side, 45-year-old Tommy John, invited to camp over the objections of Manager Dallas Green, won a rotation berth, and maybe even the opening-day assignment, by allowing only two earned runs in 17 spring innings through Thursday.
“I’ve got to admit, he’s won me over,” Green said. “I don’t know how he does it, but he gets people out.”
Amid continuing speculation that the San Diego Padres will trade their promising catcher, Sandy Alomar Jr., before the season starts, Personnel Director Joe McIlvaine of the Mets said of Alomar:
“Despite what everyone reads in the paper, our reports do not indicate that he is Moses’ incarnate.”
Now playing second base for the Minnesota Twins, former Met Wally Backman said: “Offensively, we’re as good as the Mets. No, we’re better than the Mets.”
Those motivational speeches that Manager Jim Lefebvre delivers to his Seattle Mariners seem to be getting through.
The entire team pulled off its warmup jerseys the other morning and displayed T-shirts inscribed: “I’m a Lefebvre Believer.”
Ken Griffey Jr., who at 19 seems to have locked up the Mariner center-field job, was asked about his impressive poise and said:
“Why should I be nervous? This is my 12th spring camp.”
“Ten with my dad and two on my own.”
Jose Canseco has been selected to appear on billboards promoting the city of Oakland. Teammate Dave Stewart suggests they picked the wrong man.
“I didn’t think anything of it until a reporter wrote a story quoting a man from the Chamber of Commerce saying no one is better suited,” Stewart told Pat Reusse of the St. Paul Pioneer Press & Dispatch.
“Wait a minute. I was born and raised in Oakland. I live in Oakland year-round. Jose lives in Miami in the winter. I’ve given a king’s ransom in money and time to community work in Oakland.
“Best suited to represent Oakland? I feel as though I fit that description.”
Then there’s the battle of words between former football All-Americans Bo Jackson and Deion Sanders, the flamboyant cornerback from Florida State who received a $100,000 signing bonus after being drafted by the Yankees as an outfielder and spent it on a Mercedes-Benz and a BMW.
Sanders doesn’t think Jackson’s two-sport prowess is anything special.
“I could play for the Lakers. I could do anything,” Sanders said. “I get tired of hearing Bo’s name. The only thing he’s got on me is age.”
Responded Bo: “Deion should shut his mouth. He should take advice. Like someone said, it’s better to be quiet, to look and listen and be thought of as a fool than open your mouth and leave no doubt.”