The sport of Major League Baseball has seen its share of gambling controversies, most notably, the scandal surrounding the 1919 World Series and the Chicago White Sox, famously known as the Black Sox Scandal.
However, not one scandal gained more notoriety than the allegations levied against Major League Baseball's all-time hits leader, Pete Rose.
On August 23, 1989, through an agreement reached with then baseball commissioner A. Bartlett Giamatti, Pete Rose voluntarily accepted a lifetime suspension from the game of baseball.
Rose, at the time the manager of the Cincinnati Reds, had been reported to have been betting on baseball, and more specifically games in which the Reds were involved.
Rose was questioned in early 1989 by Giamatti, who was president of the National League at the time, and by current commissioner Peter Euberroth.
Later in the year, Euberroth stepped down as commissioner, and Giamatti was unanimously selected by MLB owners to replace him. During this time, lawyer John M. Dowd was retained to investigate the allegations against Rose.
In mid-August, the investigation was completed, and its findings submitted to commissioner Giamatti. In his report, Dowd concluded that Rose indeed had bet on baseball games, and had specifically on at least 50 Reds games in 1987, at a minimum of $10,000 per day.
On August 23rd, after several days of negotiations with commissioner Giamatti, Rose agreed to the lifetime ban. Ironically, eight days after the announcement, Giamatti suddenly died of a heart attack at his summer home in Martha's Vineyard, Massachusetts. He was just 51 years old.
At the time, Rose had vehemently denied that he bet on baseball games. In 2004, fifteen years later, he finally revealed in his book, "My Prison Without Bars", that he did bet on baseball.
Rose has applied for reinstatement several times, but the ban is still in place today. He has only been allowed back on the baseball field once, in 1999, when he was elected to the All-Century team, and he appeared with the team on the field at the All-Star game at Fenway Park.
Rose has arrogantly displayed his disdain for the decision on several occasions, setting up shop outside the confines of the Baseball Hall of Fame at Cooperstown, New York during induction ceremonies, and at autograph signing sessions throughout the country.
Rose had his own radio talk show for years during the 1990's, and his lifetime suspension was frequent fodder for Rose and his guests.
If Rose could have simply accepted the ban, worked to ingratiate himself positively with baseball owners and executives, and publicly admit his wrongdoings, his suspension likely would have been lifted.
Instead, Rose chose the tact of displaying complete arrogance and constant denials until fifteen years after the fact, and those acts alone have not only kept him out of baseball, but also kept him out of the place where he truly feels he belongs—the Hall of Fame.
Arrogance has never been a successful act of defense. Rose should have chosen the path of humility.