Open Shots

By Dave Reardon

Friday, January 9, 1998


Hall of Fame full of shame without Rose and Jackson

IT'S time to clean up baseball's Hall of Fame. And here's the blue ribbon panel that will do it: George Will, Miss Manners, Mr. Rogers and Oprah Winfrey.

Who says they need to know anything about baseball? As long as the writers who vote continue to exclude Tony Perez, that's obviously not a qualification.

Yes, Cooperstown needs to be purified for posterity. Evict all 300-game winners who committed the sin of getting their victories over 20 seasons or more. Don't get comfortable Don Sutton.

Beat it, Warren Spahn, and take Cy Young with you. You guys didn't win because you were good, you only won because you hung around. Nolan Ryan? Forget it.

Hank Aaron, you're outta there, too. Too consistent, too quiet. You batted over .328 only once, when you led the league with .355 in 1959 - obviously an aberration, as any stat geek will tell you. Pack your bags, buddy.

We don't care about your 755 home runs. It took you 23 years and 12,364 at-bats to get them. What took you so long?

The morals subcommittee of Manners and Rogers will have a big job, reviewing all that film and interviewing all those old-timers to learn who spit on the field and who grabbed their crotch - both violations of the Hall's new morals clause.

Let's see . . . that will leave Tom Seaver as the lone member of the Hall of Fame. No, wait a minute, he's gone, too. It seems he ingested some champagne on Oct. 16, 1969. Drinking alcohol is another violation resulting in immediate expulsion.

I don't know any other way to say it. The longer Pete Rose and Joe Jackson are excluded from inclusion, the more ridiculous the Hall of Fame becomes.

Granted, what both Rose and Jackson did, or probably did, was wrong.

Although the historic details are fuzzy, Jackson accepted money to help throw the 1919 World Series. He didn't earn the money though, as he batted .375 and drove in six runs in the seven game series. Still, his White Sox lost to the Reds and Jackson and seven teammates were banned from baseball. Jackson ended his career with a .356 lifetime average.

Rose, baseball's all-time hit leader, was accused of betting on baseball games while a manager, and also was banned from the game before he became eligible for election to the Hall.

Here's why Jackson and Rose should be in the Hall of Fame: people like Ty Cobb, Babe Ruth and Ferguson Jenkins are already there.

Cobb nearly beat a man to death because of the color of his skin. About 70 years before Latrell and P.J., Ruth held his manager, Miller Huggins, off a moving train and threatened to drop him. Jenkins was arrested and convicted for possession of illegal drugs.

These men, and the numerous other drunks, drug abusers, and psychopaths in the Hall of Fame do belong there - because of their exploits between the lines. It's the Hall of Fame, not the Hall of Clean Living.

But that means Jackson and Rose belong, too.

Part of Rose's problem is that he's unrepentant. Maybe the voters will be satisfied if he makes a movie about what a jerk he's been to everyone in his life, like Woody Allen has done. Deconstructing Pete would be a box-office smash.

The stupidity of the voters in excluding Perez - the most consistent player on one of baseball's strongest dynasties - is mind-boggling, but still easier to accept than the moral hypocrisy in shunning Rose.

ON a baseball note closer to home, the University of Hawaii is billing its outfield as possibly its best ever. Greg Millichap, Darren Blakely and Neal Honma are good. But could they carry the jock straps of Glenn Braggs, Mario Monico and any third you'd care to add from among the guys they played with?

Also, pitching is much more important in winning baseball games - and pitching is a huge question mark as the Rainbows go into this season.

Dave Reardon is a magazine editor and freelance
writer who has covered Hawaii sports since 1977.
He can be reached via the Star-Bulletin or
by email at dreardon@hmsa.com.




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