This weekend Riverfront (or whatever they're now calling it) held its last major-league game with the Reds losing to the Phils, 4-3. The Reds held a ceremony to celebrate and grieve its passing with many former players in attendance. Peter Edward Rose, Sr. was not one of them.
Cincinnati had requested from the Lords of Baseball to invite Rose, who had the first hit in the stadium and among whose many feats there, established the hits record in Riverfront. The request was denied. Fans chanted "Pete!" and former Red Tom Browning spray-painted Rose's number 14 on the mound after the game.
Personally, I don't care if Pete was there. I won't mourn for Riverfront. It was an ugly tin can of a stadium and it witnessed the ass-kicking of many a Phillies club. So many that their final victory there in a disappointing year only proves that Riverfront had a sardonic wit and a flair for the ironic.
That said, in all fairness Rose should have been there for a number of reasons. First, the Reds wanted him there, and it should be their celebration. Second, though Rose is banned from every aspect of baseball including stadium appearances, MLB has broken this rules before for the marketing-heavy naming of the All-Century Team. Rose also had to put up with an interview with a surly Jim Gray after the celebration. If they broke the rules for their celebration, why not for the Reds'?
Third, baseball has screwed Rose enough already. How is that you ask? Baseball never was able to prove that Rose bet on baseball. Their case is based on hearsay from the felons that constituted Rose's peer group and a few scraps of paper with supposedly Rose's chicken scratchings that one of the lowlifes pilfered from him. They supposedly contained were dates on which Rose bet on baseball games with the teams and the amounts. If they were from Rose, he evidently didn't know his team's schedule because the citations don't match any games in the years that he managed (there were dates without years on the papers).
Bart Giamatti knew that the case was weak and made a deal to suspend Rose. Rose agreed as long as the charge of his betting on baseball was not raised. Rose knew that this would hinder his Hall-of-Fame chances. MLB agreed to this proviso and then announced that he had indeed bet on baseball and suspended him. Giamatti then died shortly after, and the ban has stood ever since.
To doubly screw Rose, baseball changed the Hall-of-Fame voting rules to eliminate anyone currently banned from the game. This was a fine decision in general, but it was made the year that Rose became eligible to voters for the precise reason of barring the doors of Cooperstown against him.
If I were Rose, I would have my lawyer add the recent snubbing to a file that can be used to his advantage in the future to either force by legal means lifting of his ban or to sue for, say, defamation of character.
However Rose reacts, I am glad that MLB baseball didn't act to bar him from a celebrity softball game today in Riverfront with many former Reds. At least they aren't so deluded as to think that they control every game played in America in which a ball and a bat are involved.