Free Republic
Browse · Search
Topics · Post Article

Skip to comments.

Pete vs. Joe ^ | Thursday, March 13, 2003 | by Thomas Sowell

Posted on 03/12/2003 10:45:21 PM PST by JohnHuang2

A San Francisco sports writer has joined the chorus of those who argue that Pete Rose should be admitted into the Baseball Hall of Fame, despite being banned from baseball for violating one of its cardinal rules, against betting on ball games. The argument is: What have Pete's personal shortcomings got to do with the fact that he had a great career on the field?

If we are going to go that route, and accept that kind of reasoning, then the time is long overdue to induct Shoeless Joe Jackson into the Baseball Hall of Fame. After all, Shoeless Joe had a lifetime batting average more than 50 points higher than that of Pete Rose -- and 12 points higher than that of Ted Williams. Where Williams' highest batting average was .406, Shoeless Joe Jackson hit .408. And he is still not in Cooperstown.

Some will say that the two things are different. Obviously. Any two things are different, otherwise they wouldn't be two things. But where is the difference in principle?

Shoeless Joe Jackson was banned from baseball for life because of the 1919 "Black Sox" scandal, where the Chicago White Sox deliberately lost the World Series, so that a big-time gambler who was paying them off could make a killing betting against them.

Shoeless Joe Jackson himself could not be accused of throwing the games. He batted .375 in the Series -- the highest average of anyone on either team -- played errorless ball in the field, threw out a base runner from the outfield, and even hit a home run, which was much rarer in those days.

Shoeless Joe Jackson was banned from baseball for life because he knew that the World Series was fixed but did not report his teammates to the authorities.

Jackson was the most tragic figure in the Black Sox scandal. Having grown up a barefoot and illiterate boy, he was able to achieve success because of his extraordinary ability to hit a baseball -- and suddenly it was all taken away from him because of what other people did.

For years, people pleaded his case. But the ban stood, cutting him down in the prime of his career, and the ban kept him out of the Baseball Hall of Fame for the rest of his life and after his death in 1951.

It should have. And it should for Pete Rose.

First of all, baseball is bigger than any individual who plays it. Like so many things in life, the tangible things in major league baseball cannot exist without the intangibles -- of which the trust of the public is the most important. Once the public decides that it is all fake and crooked, this thriving sports empire collapses like a house of cards. Ballplayers who deal with professional gamblers jeopardize the whole game of baseball.

Would major league baseball vanish into thin air if Pete Rose were admitted to its Hall of Fame? Of course not. Nor would it have vanished if Shoeless Joe Jackson had been either reinstated as a player or allowed to become a member of the Hall of Fame later on.

Termites do not destroy a house overnight. But destroy it they will if you let them go on long enough.

Those who say that we should admit Pete Rose to the Hall of Fame and then "move on" and "forget about it" have profoundly misunderstood human beings. What we do today affects what other people will do or not do tomorrow. If you want rules to be forgotten, then just forget to enforce them.

What have we gained over the past several decades by weakening rules, accepting excuses, and looking for easy ways of avoiding the unpleasantness of enforcing norms?

Has permissive parenting produced better children? Or even happier children? This 1960s trend produced not only rising teenage crime rates but rising rates of teenage suicide as well.

It has been the same story with adults. Going easy on criminals in the 1960s led to skyrocketing crime rates that did not reverse until more criminals began to be locked up in the 1980s.

Forgetting the past endangers the future. After Shoeless Joe Jackson has been admitted to the Baseball Hall of Fame will be time enough to talk about Pete Rose. But neither of them should be admitted, now or ever.

TOPICS: Culture/Society; Editorial; News/Current Events
KEYWORDS: thomassowelllist
Thursday, March 13, 2003

Quote of the Day by wayoverontheright

1 posted on 03/12/2003 10:45:21 PM PST by JohnHuang2
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | View Replies]

To: JohnHuang2
Shoeless Joe padded his stats in games that were not to be lost. In the games that the Sox were supposed to lose he hit poorly with runners in scoring position.
2 posted on 03/13/2003 1:19:23 AM PST by Iwentsouth
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Iwentsouth

Joe's testimony FYI, FWIW.....
3 posted on 03/13/2003 1:41:50 AM PST by rolling_stone
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 2 | View Replies]

To: *Thomas_Sowell_list
4 posted on 03/13/2003 8:23:37 AM PST by Free the USA (Stooge for the Rich)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 3 | View Replies]

To: JohnHuang2
Baseball is not a sacred endeavor or institution. It is show business. Joe Jackson was one of it's greatest performers and hid performances helped make baseball what it is today. The fact that we are still debating this 60+ years after his death shows he is still contributing to the illusion that is baseball. Let him in for what he did on the field or throw out other miscreants like Ty Cobb.
5 posted on 03/13/2003 8:41:24 AM PST by Natural Law
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.

Free Republic
Browse · Search
Topics · Post Article

FreeRepublic, LLC, PO BOX 9771, FRESNO, CA 93794 is powered by software copyright 2000-2008 John Robinson