Feb. 5 (UPI) -- Pete Rose -- baseball's all-time hits leader banned for gambling on the game -- requested Major League Baseball reinstatement Wednesday so he could be eligible for the Hall of Fame. Rose cited the Houston Astros cheating scandal in his petition.
Rose, 78, has been on MLB's ineligible list since 1989 for betting on games while managing the Cincinnati Reds, following his decorated playing career. He denied breaking the baseball rule for more than a decade before admitting to it in his 2004 book, My Prison Without Bars. Rose said he only bet on his team to win.
The Hall of Fame has a rule stipulating that any player on MLB's ineligible list cannot appear on a ballot for induction.
"I think it's a mischaracterization to say Pete is fighting anything," said one of his attorneys, Ray Genco. "It was anticipated when he signed the agreement [accepting the ban] in 1989 that there would be petitions for reinstatement. Nothing in the petition is saying his punishment in 1989 is wrong."
Genco added: "Times have changed, circumstances have changed. The proportionality of other punishments have lent context to this. Now is an appropriate time that MLB can reinstate him without being made to look inconsistent at all. No one has to be made to look wrong to make this right."
In his newest bid, Rose said he "appreciates" time and effort Selig and Manfred devoted to prior petitions, but says his lifetime ban is "disproportionate" relative to other punishments imposed for serious violations that also undermined the integrity of the game.
Rose's lawyers said his ban is disproportionate when compared to the MLB punishments levied against players who took performance-enhancing drugs and players involved in the sign-stealing scheme plot from the 2017 Houston Astros.
The lawyers said "intentional and covert acts" by current and past owners, managers, coaches and players altered the outcomes of numerous games, including the World Series, and "illegally enhanced" both team and player performance."
"It has never been suggested, let alone established, that any of Mr. Rose's actions influenced the outcome of any game or the performance of any player," Rose's lawyers said. "Yet for the thirty-first year and counting, he continues to suffer a punishment vastly disproportionate to those who have done just that.
"Given the manner in which Major League Baseball has treated and continues to treat other egregious assaults on the integrity of the game, Mr. Rose's ongoing punishment is no longer justifiable as a proportional response to his transgressions."
Manfred suspended former Astros manager A.J. Hinch and general manager Jeff Luhnow for one year and fined the Astros $5 million in January after investigating the sign-stealing scheme. Hinch and Luhnow were fired by the team immediately after the discipline was announced.
Rose's petition also references Jenrry Mejia, whom Manfred reinstated after he had been permanently banned from baseball after testing positive for anabolic steroids for a third time.
Manfred denied Rose's bid for reinstatement in 2015, after granting him a meeting. Previous commissioner Bud Seilg also rejected Rose's requests for reinstatement during his tenure. In 2017, the Hall of Fame also rejected a request from Rose to be placed on its ballot for induction.
Former commissioner A. Bartlett Giamatti said in his 1989 announcement banning Rose that it would be up to Baseball Writers' Association of America voters to determine if Rose belonged in the Hall of Fame. Giamatti died about a week later. More than a year after that, the Hall of Fame board voted that permanently banned players could not appear on its ballot.
Rose's 4,256 hits, 3,562 games played, 14,053 at-bats and 3,215 singles are all MLB records. While Hall of Fame rules stipulate players cannot be on the ballot if they are on the ineligible list, there is precedent for players to be removed from the list.
Mickey Mantle and Willie Mays were placed on the list in the 1980s for accepting jobs at a casino. Former commissioner Peter Ueberroth removed Mantle and Mays from the list in 1985, but they already were in the Hall of Fame.
Genco said no limit has been placed on how many times Rose can apply for reinstatement.