07/26/2003 6:24 PM ET
Rose absent from Cooperstown
Banned from baseball, former player hopes for return
COOPERSTOWN, N.Y. -- Pete Rose is not in town during Hall of Fame Weekend for the first time since 1994, but he still casts a long shadow down Main Street.
By Barry M. Bloom / MLB.com
For the first time in more than a decade, Rose opted not to sign autographs Saturday at his customary shop just walking distance from the National Baseball Hall of Fame a day before the annual Induction Ceremonies. The memorabilia shop is now named "Pete Rose Ballpark Collectibles." Rose added his name last year. This year, he decided not to give his time, which may be a good sign, said the owner.
"It's good that he's staying under the radar this year," said Andrew Vilacky, the store's owner and a long-time friend of Rose. "Things are going on behind the scenes. At least that's what I hear."
Rose has applied for reinstatement to Major League Baseball and Commissioner Bud Selig has been pondering the question since late last year. Rose was banned in 1989 when, as manager of the Reds, he signed a document admitting that he bet on sporting events.
Since then, MLB's all-time leader with 4,256 hits hasn't been eligible for the Hall of Fame ballot. He won't be eligible again this year unless Selig grants him candidacy. A ruling on Rose's application apparently is not imminent, according to Bob DuPuy, MLB's president and chief operating officer, who is second in command to the commissioner.
"I think people understand that I understand I made some mistakes and I can't change them. They already happened. And they are willing to give me a second chance. I haven't been a whiner."
-- Pete Rose
"Publicly, it has been very quiet," DuPuy said. "But behind the scenes it's still very much on our radar screen."
Selig hasn't tipped his hand, but will reportedly speak informally about Rose to many of the 44 living Hall of Famers who are expected in attendance this weekend.
Two weeks ago, in Chicago for the All-Star Game, Selig said he was still weighing the merits of the issue.
"Look, we're being very deliberate," he said. "(Former Commissioner) Bart Giamatti gave Pete the right to apply for reinstatement and he has properly done so. And I let it wait a long time. I understand the sensitive feelings on all sides.
"As you well know, there's a lot of people who feel strongly about Pete in a positive way and a lot of people who feel strongly the other way. But I'm going to do what I think is right. He deserves to be seriously considered and that's what's happening right now."
Rose, for his part, has generally tried to stay mum about the process since it began last December. But a reporter from SI.com caught up with him in Macon, Ga., this week when he was in that town to throw out the first ball at a minor league baseball game.
Sounding contrite at times and speaking more in terms of "when" he would get back into baseball, than "if," Rose said he wants to make amends for past mistakes.
"I think people understand that I understand I made some mistakes and I can't change them," Rose said. "They already happened. And they are willing to give me a second chance. I haven't been a whiner.
"People look up and they say, 'Gee, that guy has been suspended since '89. That is 14 years. That is a long time.' For most people, enough is enough."
Barry M. Bloom is a national reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.