It's the question that is being argued in baseball and beyond. And it won't go away now, and might not for a long, long time.

Does Pete Rose belong in the Hall of Fame?"I think he deserves to be in," Tony Perez, Rose's longtime teammate with the Cincinnati Reds, said Thursday. "At the very least, though, the writers should be given the opportunity to vote. He should have that chance. He earned it."

But Rose, who would've been eligible for election next year, might not get that opportunity. On Thursday, a Hall of Fame committee recommended that no person on baseball's permanently ineligible list be allowed to go on the ballot.

American League president Bobby Brown presented the resolution that would effectively keep Rose out.

"I just didn't feel that this was right, for them to be on the list for consideration,"Brown said. "I realize everybody doesn't have that viewpoint."

Among those who disagree is Kit Stier of the Oakland Tribune. He is president of the Baseball Writers Association of America, the organization that has voted on election to the Hall of Fame since it was founded.

Asked whether the BBWAA might boycott future elections, Stier said, "I think there's that possibility, yes."

Rose, barred from baseball for gambling and released just this week after serving five months in a federal prison for income tax evasion, was not on the agenda of the meeting called by Hall of Fame president Ed Stack to "review voting procedures." Lee MacPhail, former president of the American League, said he brought up the issue at the meeting.

"I'm sympathetic to the writers," MacPhail said. "They've done a terrific job.

"In a way, we're relieving them of that responsibility. They have a screening committee that would have had to come to grips with this problem. Perhaps it's not fair to put this burden on the writers."