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The following appeared as a guest editorial in the February 18, 1991 issue of The Sporting News. This editorial appeared as a result of a decision by the Hall of Fame's Board of Directors whereby any individual on Baseball's ineligible list "shall not be an eligible candidate for election" to the Baseball Hall of Fame.
Nothing could be further from the truth. All of us at the Hall of Fame join the entire baseball community in conceding Pete Rose's impact on the game. How could any baseball fan not applaud the many accomplishments of the game's all-time leader in games played, at bats, hits and singles? The fact that over 15 Pete Rose artifacts are on exhibit in the museum attests to our acknowledgment of the impact he has had on the game.
We are the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum. It is important to make the distinction between the two. The "Hall of Fame" refers to the one-room gallery housing the 206 bronze plaques of those players, pioneers, executives, managers and umpires who have been elected to the Hall of Fame. The rest of the complex - two buildings and three floors - contain the Museum, showcasing the history of Baseball. Over 6,000 artifacts and photographs are on display here, most of which are not Hall of Famer related. Here are represented hundreds and hundreds of non-Hall of Famers, who for a career, a season, a game, or even a sole at-bat, have made a significant contribution to Baseball history. Bobby Thomson, Don Larsen, Johnny Vander Meer, Roger Maris, Joe Jackson and Bill Mazeroski, to mention only a few, may not be elected Hall of Famers at this time; but who can deny their niche in our game's history? For Pete Rose not to be represented here would be an aberration. He, as much or more than anyone, deserves to be recognized for his outstanding accomplishments on the playing field.
Rose's conviction, sentencing, imprisonment and subsequent release are related to his conviction for income tax evasion. These have nothing whatsoever to do with his banishment from Baseball following an extensive investigation of allegations that he gambled on Baseball and in so doing might have jeopardized the integrity of the game. This is an unfortunate set of circumstances precipitated by his actions. Being declared ineligible is Baseball's most severe penalty.
Not so. If and when he is re-instated by Baseball, he then would automatically be a candidate for election, (were he to meet the other requirements for eligibility).
This decision has nothing whatsoever to do with the Hall of Fame's concern over how the writers might have voted in 1992. Very simply, our Board felt that it would be incongruous for anyone who has been declared ineligible by Baseball and therefore banned from the nation's ballparks, to still be eligible for Baseball's greatest honor.
The Hall of Fame has every right to establish the rules under which the voting process takes place. The BBWAA has always conducted its balloting under the guidelines and ground rules set forth by the Hall of Fame.
We are at fault here. It should have been part of the Rules for Election since the first balloting took place in 1936. We are remiss for not having taken this action years ago.
This rule change affects Joe Jackson as well as any past or future player who has been or might be declared ineligible by Baseball.
Naturally, we would be very disappointed to have this association terminated. The BBWAA has done an outstanding job over the years in electing members to the Hall of Fame and it has been a mutually beneficial relationship, adding prestige to both organizations. We would be very disappointed to see this association terminated. However, if this would occur, we would obviously have to put together another group of electors.
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