There is something tragically poetic about this card, the final one issued by Topps before Pete Rose’s lifetime suspension.
Pete is looking over his shoulder.
He looks concerned.
He looks distracted.
He is removing his cap from his head.
Doesn’t that perfectly illustrate Pete Rose and his 1989 season as manager of the Reds.
I am not going to go over the obvious things about Pete Rose.
Yes, of course he had a career that is worthy of election to the Hall of Fame. Anyone with a set of eyes, a brain and an understanding what his numbers meant, especially the 4,256 career hits, knows that he earned a Cooperstown bid.
Also anyone with knowledge of the rules of baseball realizes that betting on baseball, even if it is for your team to win, violates the game and whether or not it is on the up and up.
And getting 4,256 hits does not exempt anyone from the rules.
If you need that explained to you, then please kindly click here to read this blog post or maybe listen to this episode of the Daily Podcast.
The 1987 Reds, a team Pete managed, fell apart down the stretch, as we found out he was betting on the games. A post season as a manager could have added to his Hall of Fame plaque. Instead he was banned, Lou Piniella took over and won the World Series the first year Pete was gone.
In the end, Pete has only himself to blame. He lied about betting for decades, throwing people like Bart Giamatti, Fay Vincent and poor Jim Gray under the bus before finally coming clean when he was paid for doing so.
He could have made an ally of the Hall of Fame and instead kept showing up on induction weekend with sleazy characters to give impromptu paid autograph sessions.
I have argued that he would rather be on the outside looking in. The minute he is in the Hall of Fame, his story becomes irrelevant until he dies. Seriously, when have superior players like Hank Aaron or Willie Mays been in the news since their induction? Rarely and usually when people are approaching their records.
If Pete is in the Hall, how is he a story?
If he is out of the Hall, he can play the martyr card to his fans and have pay days.
But is anyone defending him now? Adding underage sex to the resume isn’t going to have people clamoring for him to have his day in the sun.
That could have him end up in jail and not for something that most people shrug about, like taxes or finances.
Was it worth it Pete? If Pete came clean back in the early 1990’s, he would have been suspended and probably in Cooperstown by the end of the decade. He would have been enshrined right around the time Jim Gray was grilling him at the 1999 World Series.
Now Pete Rose, one of the brightest stars in the history of baseball, is a 76 year old man staring at rape allegations and the reality that his Cooperstown moment will probably never come.
He has nobody to blame but himself.