Pete Rose took the news of his banishment from baseball's Hall of Fame much more calmly than his hometown and sports writers.
While his hometown fumed and sports writers railed against a change in the Hall's eligibility rules, Rose appeared neither surprised nor ruffled Monday by his latest setback.A close friend says the reason is that baseball's all-time hits leader is convinced he'll have a plaque at Cooperstown someday. He can only get there now by being reinstated to baseball within the next 15 years.
"I guarantee he has his heart set on that Hall of Fame," said restaurateur Jeff Ruby, a business partner and close friend. "If he ever believes he's never going to be in the Hall of Fame, I think it would crush him. He's not at that state right now because he believes he'll be reinstated."
The former Cincinnati Reds manager was banned from baseball two years ago for illegal gambling. He's eligible to apply for reinstatement at any time, but has given no indication when he'll do so.
Throughout the investigation of his gambling and a parallel investigation of his taxes by the federal government, Rose made it clear he has one overriding wish left - to take his place in the Hall of Fame.
A vote by the Hall's board of directors Monday made that more difficult. The board voted 12-0 that no one can be on the Hall of Fame ballot if they're banned from baseball - a change that affects only Rose.
He had little to say about it Monday as he left an elementary school where he served another day of community service for cheating on his taxes.
"I'm not in control of that, so there's not much I can do about it. I did my part," Rose said.
One of Rose's advisers, demanding anonymity, has said an appeal for reinstatement won't come until after he has finished serving his sentence for failing to report income. Rose has publicly avoided the topic altogether.
Rose served five months at a federal prison camp in Illinois and was released last month to a Cincinnati halfway house. He must stay there for two more months and complete 1,000 hours of community service in inner-city elementary schools.
The Cincinnati Enquirer condemned the vote in an editorial Tuesday, saying, "The rule change diminishes the stature of the Hall of Fame's directors and of major league management generally far more than it diminishes the vendetta's victim."
Ruby said Cincinnati fans think banishment from the Hall of Fame is going too far.
"Just about all of them are favorable towards Pete, that he's receiving a much greater punishment than he deserves in light of the good he did for baseball," Ruby said.
Members of the Baseball Writers Association of America who vote for Hall of Fame candidates also scorned the Hall's decision, which prevents them from voting Rose in.
"It's like a slap in the face," said Mike Augustin of the St. Paul Pioneer Press. "I'm very conscientious and I think all the voters are.
"The board of directors is telling us that we aren't responsible. They don't want Pete in the Hall of Fame and they're afraid we'll put him in there. I guess our vote is only good enough when they don't perceive damage to their ideals."
Kit Stier of the Oakland Tribune, the BBWAA president, said the group would not decide on its reaction until its next scheduled meeting, which is during the All-Star break in July.