Chat Transcript: Bob Page

July 21, 2000 -- Another crop of baseball legends will be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame this weekend, and again, Pete Rose will not be among them.

When he admitted to gambling on other sports, he was given a lifetime ban from baseball—including enshrinement in the Hall of Fame. The controversy rages on among baseball fans and experts as to whether Rose deserves his place in Cooperstown and, if he does, whether his exhibit should include an asterisk.

Should Rose be inducted into the Hall of Fame? What other players deserve to be there?

Joining us today in a chat was Bob Page, host of the ABC Radio show, Speaking of Sports.

Moderator at 3:59pm ET

Welcome Bob Page.

Bob Page at 4:00pm ET

For those who aren't familiar with my work, I've been at ABC for about 10 years. I took Howard Cosell's place on the show, Speaking of Sports; he was one of my broadcasting idols. My commentaries are heard twice a day on ABC, I do anchor work for ABC and I've hosted talk shows and been in broadcasting for about 26 years now.

Sidesmiler at 4:00pm ET

What are the regulations, guidelines, or criteria for inductees? If Pete Rose meets them, he should be in. If not, he should be out. Period. End of story.

Bob Page at 4:01pm ET

That's an excellent point. There is what amounts to a "morals" clause: you cannot do anything to disgrace the sport of baseball. I don't know specifically how it's phrased, but remember that Rose is banned from baseball, so he's not eligible for the Hall of Fame. And he was the one who signed off on that ban — he agreed to it.

Betsy at 4:02pm ET

Do you believe that players like Darryl Strawberry and Dwight Gooden who have known problems with substance abuse hurt the image of baseball more than Pete Rose's gambling?

Bob Page at 4:03pm ET

Absolutely not. Pete Rose violated a principle that is just so sacrosanct in baseball: he bet on major league baseball games — there's incontrovertible evidence — and he on games involving his own team, the Cincinnati Reds, when he managed them.

Moderator at 4:05pm ET

Carl Webster asks:Dear Mr. Page,

Since it seems that most major sports have more of their athletes showing up on Court TV rather than the sporting venue, why shouldn't Pete Rose be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame? He was a superb baseball player!

Bob Page at 4:06pm ET

You can refer to my last answer. What he did was so egregious. It's the one violation of the law, of the rules, and of any moral code, that can't be tolerated. The integrity of the games themselves must be beyond suspicion, above reproach, however you want to phrase it.

He never bet against the Reds. I don't believe Pete Rose threw games or shaved runs — he bet on the Reds to win. Still, you can't do that!! He's an addictive gambler. What he did isn't anything he should be forgiven for, until such time as he admits his transgression and begs for forgiveness.

Charly from at 4:07pm ET

Is it true that there was never an "official" investigation into these allegations? Has Pete Rose ever gone before the bench to defend himself? I would think, given the seriousness of the charges, there should have been extensive hearings before the handing down such stiff punishment.

Bob Page at 4:08pm ET

Well, of course there was a thorough investigation by Major League Baseball. I believe it was called the Dowd Commission. Again, they found absolutely incontrovertible evidence that Pete Rose did gamble on Major League Baseball games, and on games involving his own team.

cohibas from at 4:09pm ET

Why, if there is evidence in either direction, has proof not been made public? Public support is clearly in Pete's favor, so it would make sense for someone to come forward with some hard evidence to support or discredit him.

Bob Page at 4:09pm ET

I believe the Dowd Commission's report is a matter of public record.

RedBaron from at 4:09pm ET

Speaking of future Hall of Famers, what do you feel is the problem with Griffey Jr. in Cincy this year?

Bob Page at 4:11pm ET

You have to remember that he's way up at the top of the list in home runs and RBIs. He has been, as usual, sensational in center field, defensively. It's a tribute to his greatness that people are asking what's wrong with him. He's hitting 240 or 250, and he's no doubt feeling some pressure over having been traded to his hometown team and signing a big contract.

RedBaron from at 4:12pm ET

If we ban Pete Rose, do we ban other athletes from other sports for "illegal activities"? Hasn't happened!

Bob Page at 4:13pm ET

Again, I can't stress this enough — I refer to my earlier responses — you can be a drug addict and we understand, you can be a wife-beater, and unfortunately we even understand that. But you cannot gamble on the games. Everyone knows that. It's Rule One of every sport — you cannot gamble on the sport. That's one transgression that just cannot be forgiven.

Moderator at 4:13pm ET

We understand the ruling of MLB, but why are the fans so forgiving?

Bob Page at 4:14pm ET

Pete Rose was a hero, and everyone admired him. He was a great, great player, and the average person can really relate to Rose, because he wasn't a great athlete, like a Ken Griffey, Jr. Through hard work, hustle and desire, he made himself a great player and a winner.

Moderator at 4:14pm ET

Are there any other players that are not in the Hall for similar reasons?

Bob Page at 4:15pm ET

Certainly. Shoeless Joe Jackson was the top star of the 1919 Chicago Black Sox, who conspired to fix a World Series.

George from at 4:17pm ET

Pete Rose made a deal with baseball. He made his bed. Let him get in it and pull the covers over his head. He should never be inducted into the Hall of Fame.

Bob Page at 4:18pm ET

Look, here's the way I feel about this. Because we forgive and frequently give people second or more chances, I'm willing to accept that Pete Rose was an addictive gambler, which he was, and couldn't stop himself. But Rose must come forward, stop lying, get out of denial and admit to the world what everyone knows: that he bet on Major League Baseball and on his own team.

He must apologize publicly, throw himself on the court of public opinion, beg forgiveness — and perhaps Major League Baseball could look at reinstating him. But he must do that, as far as I'm concerned.

Moderator at 4:21pm ET

Do you believe Rose will ever be in the Hall of Fame?

Bob Page at 4:22pm ET

That's maybe the best question we've had. Right now, I'd have to say no. As long as he keeps up this charade and keeps up his attempts to play upon public opinion and create public pressure on baseball, baseball will not be pressured — nor should they be.

Moderator at 4:23pm ET

Since the All-Century Team was announced at last year's All-Star game, there's seemed to be more public support for Pete Rose. Will that change Bud Selig's decision about whether to reinstate Rose?

Bob Page at 4:23pm ET

Baseball will not be pressured by public opinion or by Pete Rose's attempting to orchestrate public opinion.

Moderator at 4:24pm ET

The Hall was designed to pay tribute the sport's greatest legends, for their contributions to the game. Should morality play a role in determining entrance into the Hall?

Bob Page at 4:24pm ET

Drugs, alcohol, sex offense, whatever, this is a different issue. It's not just morality we're talking about here, it's violating the most sacred principle in sports.

Moderator at 4:26pm ET

How do you feel about the Veteran's Committee and what they have done with the Hall of Fame?

Bob Page at 4:28pm ET

It's a disgrace. Through a good-old-boy network and back-door politics, in proverbial smoke-filled rooms, they've taken players who could not gain legitimate election to the Hall of Fame and simply, arbitrarily, put them in — after their legitimate eligibility has expired. The Veterans Committee, in essence, has created a veritable Jim Crow society in the Hall — separate and unequal.

The Hall of Fame used to be a home for the truly great. Now it's also home to merely the very good. Now, there are two classes of players in Cooperstown. You have legitimate Hall of Famers (Aaron, Mays, Mantle, etc.) and you have those men who just happen to be in the Hall of Fame.

Moderator at 4:31pm ET

Bob, do you have final thoughts to share?

Bob Page at 4:35pm ET

I interviewed Pete Rose several times during his playing career, and several times since. I've even been a guest on his national radio talk show. I like Pete Rose personally, and have tremendous respect for what he accomplished on the field during his career.

But until he gets a big dose of reality and comes clean about his addictive gambling, he's going to remain on the outside looking in — no matter how much the public, myself included, would like to see him where he belongs: in Cooperstown.

Moderator at 4:35pm ET

Thank you for joining us.