Smelling like a Rose
Each year Pete Rose gets more sympathy and more visibility than
the last. Frank Deford explains why baseball has only its
nonsensical Hall of Fame ban to blame
Subjects we're tired of hearing about,
1) Does the Second Amendment mean just the militia?
2) Did Shakespeare really write Shakespeare?
3) Yes, but what about the Grassy Knoll?
4) Is Oprah going to marry Stedman?
5) Should Pete Rose go into the Hall of Fame?
August 4, 2002
It is Hall of Fame induction time again (Ozzie Smith went in on
Sunday), so we ought to at least mention the lunacy of baseball's
freezing Charlie Hustle out of Casa Immortality. First of all, it
is irrational to deny the man who made the most hits in history a
place in Ye Olde Shrine. Second, it is stupid. Third, it is not
working: The only person the ban benefits is Pete himself.
Rose sets up shop every August right down from the Hallowed Hall
and sells his autograph at handsome prices. I have watched as the
line for Pete's John Hancock wound around, out into the parking
lot, while, across the way, all sorts of great Hall of Famers sat
pretty much alone, at tables, looking forlorn, like neighborhood
kids trying to peddle lemonade to uninterested commuters. Now
there is even a permanent Cooperstown store that pays tribute to
the Official Pariah of Baseball, Pete Rose Ballpark Collectibles,
on Main Street. He is also the star of a whole Pony
sporting-goods campaign: "Why isn't Pete Rose in the Hall of
Fame?" Billboards. Ads. Rose even went on The Today Show to talk
Doesn't baseball understand? The best thing that ever happened to
Pete was to be denied a passport to Cooperstown. If ever he goes
in, he goes away. Then he's just another George Kell, another Rod
Carew, another Golden Oldie, another bump Down Memory Lane.
It is anecdotal, yet instructive, that whenever I give speeches
and call for questions, the question I'm most often asked is, Do
you think Pete Rose should go into the Hall of Fame? (No. 2: Is
it fair that Anna Kournikova gets so much publicity, even though
etc., etc.?) And for whatever it's worth, when I say that I
believe Pete should be inducted, the audiences always cheer
lustily. Fans understand simple illogic. And mean-spiritedness.
But Commissioner Selig swears it's an over-my-dead-body-type
thing. Commissioners won't change their minds on Pete Rose for
the same reason that popes won't change their minds on women in
the priesthood: predecessor courtesy. Reinstate Pete Rose? Ted
Williams went to his freezer pleading with baseball to reconsider
the case of poor Shoeless Joe Jackson, who, as Williams pointed
out, is still serving a lifetime suspension from baseball, even
though he's been dead for half a century. But God forbid that we,
the living, ever overrule the infallible Judge Landis.
Of course Pete Rose is guilty of betting on baseball. He's as
guilty as, well, Paul Hornung, who bet on NFL games while playing
in the NFL but is properly plaqued in Canton. He's as guilty as
all sorts of putative baseball immortals who stoke up on
steroids. But Rose was guilty only when he was a manager. Even if
he bet on baseball, even if he disobeyed the infield fly rule or
shot Cock Robin, there is not a scintilla of evidence that he did
anything untoward when he was playing the game. Even if you
fervently believe that Manager Rose soiled the National Pastime,
how unfair--how un-American--is it that the glories of his youth
should be censored by the sins of male menopause? That's just not
Would that we could trust baseball to give the player his fair
due. But then, in the matter of Pete Rose, baseball has long had
a trust exemption. --Frank Deford
Smart Coach, Strange Choices
Georgia's recruiting woes come as little surprise, given Jim
Tip-off is three months away, but by last week Georgia basketball
coach Jim Harrick had compiled some remarkable 2002 stats. Two of
his players have been indicted on assault and rape charges, all
four of his incoming recruits have been declared ineligible, and
his recruiting practices have been criticized by the president
who hired him. Harrick's response? He says his program is on
"sound, strong, solid ground." This trouble, he says, "is all a
blip on the radar screen."
Based on Harrick's track record, that's sort of true. He was
fired from UCLA in 1996 for falsifying an expense report; in '97,
at Rhode Island, he signed Lamar Odom, who'd been denied entry to
UNLV for academic reasons and was also cited for soliciting a
prostitute. (Once at URI, Odom went AWOL during final exams.)
Shortly after moving to Georgia in '99, Harrick tried to bring in
Kenny Brunner, who had been jailed on armed robbery charges and
who had also faced a criminal charge of assault with a samurai
sword. (Both charges were dropped.) To Brunner, who also had
academic woes, Georgia president Michael Adams just said no.
But Harrick didn't seem to get the larger message. Last month
Georgia recruit Wayne Arnold, a guard out of Berkmar (Ga.) High,
failed to complete summer school, which left him a course shy of
a diploma. With two of Georgia's other signees' having also
failed to qualify academically, and a third, Larry Turner, denied
entry to UGA because of alleged test fraud (Turner denies the
charge), Harrick was a dismal 0 for 4.
Arnold may yet resurface, thanks to a correspondence course. But
on Aug. 19 guard Tony Cole and forward Steve Thomas go on trial
for, respectively, assault and rape of a female student. (Both
say they're innocent.) Harrick, of course, recruited Cole, who
was then being sued for sexual harassment in a separate case.
(Cole also denies that charge.)
"Coach Harrick is a very good coach," Adams says. "But there's no
secret his recruiting operation has to improve." Harrick seems
secure in his $595,000-a-year job; in the end, he wins. He took
UCLA to the national title in 1995, went to the Elite Eight with
URI in '98 and last year won the SEC championship. "We want our
basketball program to be above reproach," says Adams. If that's
the goal, Adams himself has proved to be an interesting
recruiter. --Seth Davis
The long history of pitcher pyrotechnics includes such memorable
moments as enraged Reds reliever Rob Dibble's winging a ball into
the crowd and hitting a schoolteacher in 1991--but students of
serious control problems noted two distinct types of wig-out late
last month. In Houston on July 24 Brewers reliever Mike DeJean
refused to leave when manager Jerry Royster went to take him out;
DeJean kept the ball and screamed in Royster's face (left) for
nearly a minute before finally storming off. "It happened, and I
can't change that," said DeJean, two days later, adding, "I am
not the raving lunatic that I looked like the other night."
As badly as DeJean wanted to stay in the game, Expos starter Tony
Armas Jr. couldn't wait to get out of one; on July 16 he bolted
off the Montreal mound while manager Frank Robinson was on his
way out to lift him. Robinson escorted Armas back to the hill,
then berated him all the way to the dugout. That recalled an
incident in 1983, when Robinson was managing the Giants and Jim
Barr pulled a similar move. Robinson grabbed Barr by the arm and
held him to wait for the reliever. Such explosions, Royster says,
"happen all the time. You just can't have it happen on the field,
because then people draw conclusions."
High school football players who died from heat-related causes
in 2000 and 2001, according to a study released last week by the
University of North Carolina.
Career homers hit by Jeff Clement of Iowa's Marshalltown High,
breaking the U.S. high school record of 70 set by current
Yankees farmhand Drew Henson in 1998.
Times in 20 tournaments that Anna Kournikova has advanced past
the second round this year, including last week at the Bank of
the West Classic, when she lost in the third round.
Discount that a Buccaneers team merchandise store is offering
customers who mimic Tampa Bay coach Jon Gruden's snarling,
sneering or ranting.
American league shortstops, the Red Sox' Nomar Garciaparra and
the Rangers' Alex Rodriguez, who hit grand slams on their
birthdays in late July.
Amount of transfer fee that Manchester United paid Leeds for
center back Rio Ferdinand, the highest ever for a defensive
player or for a Briton.
Distance, in yards, of longest high school kick by Penn State
freshman Stephanie Weimer, a starter at Serra Catholic High in
McKeesport, Pa., who is attempting to become the first woman to
kick in a Division I-A game.
An English legend's last run
Last Friday afternoon, beneath a steady drizzle, Paul Gascoigne,
the brilliant and troubled English footballer, began his
audition with Major League Soccer's D.C. United. Gazza's U.S.
debut has been front-page news in the U.K., and a contingent of
British journalists was on hand to scrutinize his every move.
For his part the 35-year-old midfielder is counting on the U.S.
press to ignore him the way it ignores soccer in general.
"Anonymity is what Paul wants," says his agent, Ian Eliott, "to
go out of his house and not be hounded."
England's dominant midfielder in his prime, Gascoigne combined
visionary passing with a breathtaking scoring touch. He's famous
for leading England to the semifinals of the 1990 World Cup, then
weeping on the field after taking a yellow card. His strike
against Scotland in the '96 European Championships, in which he
lobbed the ball over a defender and scored off his own volley,
secured his legend.
Off the field he's been a lightning rod for the tabloids,
struggling with weight gain, alcoholism and his admission that
he beat his wife, Sheryl, before they divorced in '99. Last
summer he spent a month in the Meadows Clinic in Tucson,
battling addiction to booze and tranquilizers. Out of shape last
season, he played poorly for Everton in the Premier League
before bolting the team. "I'm looking to enjoy the last years of
my career," said Gazza on Friday. "I'm not here to cause any
bother. I just want to be meself."
To play for D.C. United, Gascoigne must convince the team that
he's fit and past his troubles. He's slimmer than the jowly,
potbellied figure of last season, and on Friday he enjoyed his
60-minute workout, laughing and calling for the ball. The club,
which is last in the MLS, expects to sign him this week to a
deal that will include escape clauses for the team if Gazza
lapses into vice. "With Paul, there are no guarantees," says
United coach Ray Hudson. "All we can do is go on his word."
Between 1948 and '66 Clair Bee, whose .826 winning percentage is
the best among college basketball coaches, was better known for
writing the Chip Hilton sports series, 23 books detailing the
heroic exploits of a quarterbacking-set-shooting-fastballing
American boy. The books sold 2.2 million copies, but sales
slipped in the mid-'60s, and Bee never published a 24th book
he'd finished. Now posthumous interest in the coach (Bee died in
'83), his hero (since '97 the Chip Hilton Award has gone to an
exemplary student-athlete) and the books (they've been
rereleased) has led Bee's daughter, Cindy, to get out the last
book. Fiery Fullback hits stores on Aug. 15.
Last Saturday about 60 Hiltonites gathered to discuss Fullback at
the Chip Hilton Sports Symposium at Long Island University, where
Bee's teams had a 222-3 home record in the '30s and '40s. "You
associate symposium with, say, narrative structure in Faulkner,"
said Dennis Kirkpatrick, a TV producer from L.A., "but I wouldn't
have missed this." Plot hint from Fiery Fullback: Chip plays real
Of complications from diabetes, Mel Triplett, 71, the starting
fullback on the Giants' 1956 NFL title team. The lead blocker
for Frank Gifford, Triplett played six seasons for the Giants
before ending his career in Minnesota. He rushed for 2,856
--Of cancer, Pete Seibert, 77, visionary founder of the Vail ski
resort on the site of what had been rolling sheep meadows in the
Rockies. A member of the 10th Mountain Division during World War
II, Seibert lost his right kneecap after he was hit with mortar
fire, but he recovered to become a member of the U.S. ski team in
1950. Seibert opened Vail in '62, relying on two chair lifts and
eight instructors. He was the resort's top executive until the
1970s and was serving as a full-time adviser at the time of his
--Of cancer, Jana Elway-Sever, 42, the twin sister of former
Broncos quarterback John Elway. Born 11 minutes after her
brother, Jana played tennis for San Jose State and later became
a grade school teacher.
By Adidas, Bulls rookie guard Jay Williams, the second overall
pick in the 2002 NBA draft. The multiyear deal is said to be
worth more than $750,000 a year; Williams signed 10 days after
Kobe Bryant ended a six-year sponsorship agreement with the
By the Class A Delmarva Shorebirds, Frank Perdue bobblehead
dolls, to the first 1,000 fans who attended their game against
the Charleston (W.Va.) Alley Cats on Sunday. The giveaway, which
was concocted by The Daily Times newspaper in Salisbury, Md.,
honored the chicken mogul's financial contributions to the
By security guards, from the Redskins' training camp at
Dickinson College, five children who were selling drinks and
cookies to fans. The youngsters, ages seven to 11, were made to
abandon their stand near the field's entrance because Dickinson
officials feared being held responsible if anyone got sick from
the food the kids were selling.
THE WEEK IN TELEVISION
SATURDAY 8/3--ABC 3:30 PM--MLS All-Star Game
Don't expect a nationwide furor should this All-Star Game--between
the U.S. national soccer team and MLS All-Stars--end in a tie.
SUNDAY 8/4--ESPN2 5 PM--Haskell Invitational and Jim Dandy
The Haskell landed the sport's biggest star last week when
trainer Bob Baffert announced that Kentucky Derby and Preakness
winner War Emblem would run in the $1 million race despite the
death of owner Prince Ahmed bin Salman. In the Jim Dandy, Belmont
Stakes runner-up Medaglia d'Oro will likely be favored.
MONDAY 8/5--ABC 8 PM--Texans vs. Giants, Hall of Fame Game
The most anticipated pairing on ABC since Luke wed Laura is the
debut of the Al Michaels-John Madden announcing team, working the
expansion Texans' first game.
MONDAY 8/5--ESPN CLASSIC 8 PM--SportsCentury: Nancy Lopez
With girl-next-door looks and nerves of steel, Lopez brought
women's golf to the mainstream when she broke onto the scene in
1978 and won a record five straight tournaments. Old (Betsy King)
and new (Annika Sorenstam) rivals reflect on the impact of golf's
WEDNESDAY 8/7--HBO 11 PM--Hard Knocks: Training Camp with the
The second episode of HBO's six-part NFL reality series will
unfold with the team's first preseason game--against the
Raiders--looming two days ahead.
SUNDAY 8/4--NBC 2:30 PM Brickyard 400
Jeff Gordon has won three of eight career races at the
Indianapolis Motor Speedway, but he enters this one on a 28-race
winless streak. If Gordon can end his slide on Sunday, he'll tie
Indy 500 icons A.J. Foyt, Al Unser and Rick Mears for the most
wins ever at the fabled Brickyard.
--Pat's New Partner
--ESPN's "This Is SportsCenter" ad campaign, the seven-year-old
series of tongue-in-cheek commercials in which athletes interact
with ESPN on-air personalities at the network's headquarters in
Bristol, Conn., rarely misses the mark. That's what makes the
latest installment all the more disturbing. It features a pack
of unruly fans (from Bristol, England, we're told) breaking a
bottle over the head of one of the ESPN anchors and ransacking a
car in the parking lot while frantic riot police sprint through
the hallways. Not only does the spot stereotype English soccer
fans, but it also minimizes the hooligan violence that has
resulted in countless injuries and deaths at soccer matches.
Since when is hooliganism funny? ESPN should pull the spot
--If a cross between the XFL and the NBA Slam Dunk contest
sounds like exciting TV, check out the debut of Slamball on Aug.
3 at 8 p.m. on TNN. While sports purists may dismiss Slamball--a
no-holds-barred, dunk-heavy, four-on-four basketball game played
on a court that's dotted with trampolines--there's something
strangely compelling about the over-the-top, video-game-style
--Former offensive lineman Brian Baldinger, one of Fox's more
astute NFL analysts, will join Pat Summerall (yes, he's coming
back) in the broadcasting booth for 2002. The duo will work a
full season, with an emphasis on Cowboys games in deference to
the 72-year-old Summerall, who lives in Texas. Says Baldinger,
42, "People have said, 'I thought Pat was retired.' Well, he
isn't. The next question is, 'Who's the guy broadcasting with
him?' I'm all right with that. There's only one John Madden."
"There's no secret Jim Harrick's recruiting operation has to
improve." --SMART COACH, PAGE 18