With Cactus League baseball just around the corner in Arizona, representatives for Pete Rose submitted a Petition for Reinstatement to the Office of the Commissioner of Major League Baseball, with an addendum directed to the President of the National Baseball Hall of Fame. Rose requests to be reinstated to the game of baseball and considered for election to the Hall of Fame after 31 years on the permanently ineligible list.

The petition argues that Pete Rose’s ongoing punishment for an act that never impacted a single play or game outcome is no longer justifiable as a proportional response to his transgressions. Relative to the discipline imposed by Major League Baseball for recent egregious assaults on the integrity of the game, Pete Rose continues to suffer a disproportionate penalty, and he should be reinstated to the game of baseball.

In particular, the petition explores the recent discipline imposed by Major League Baseball on the Astros for their electronic sign-stealing scheme and the discipline implemented in the wake of the steroids era, finding that no players involved in those scandals have received a remotely comparable punishment to the 31-year ban suffered by Mr. Rose.

Mark Rosenbaum, a civil rights lawyer who submitted the petition on behalf of Mr. Rose, said, “Pete doesn’t seek special treatment, but equal treatment to others who have violated the integrity of the game. Unlike those known and unknown management and players who used and countenanced the use of steroids and engaged in electronic sign stealing, Pete’s transgressions did not affect the outcome of any game, let alone the World Series, or player performance. And unlike Pete, those violators will not be banished from baseball for thirty years and counting. At stake here then is not just proportional treatment for Pete, but the credibility and stature of the game for all time.”

According to Dean of UC Berkeley Law School, Erwin Chemerinsky, who helped author the petition, “It is essential to baseball, and to any fair system, that punishment be proportionate to the offense and to that imposed on others. Pete Rose’s lifetime ban from baseball and from the Hall of Fame, for actions that never affected the outcome of a single game, is grossly disproportionate when compared to the one-year suspensions imposed on those whose misconduct likely did change the results in games.  After 30 years of being banished from baseball, it is time for Pete Rose to be reinstated.”

Evan Caminker, former Dean and current Law Professor at University of Michigan Law School, added, “Basic fairness requires both that punishment must fit the crime, and that punishment must be doled out proportionally so that people who engage in similarly severe misconduct receive similar punishments.  Given the significantly lighter-to-nonexistent penalties imposed on more recent wrongdoers in the steroids, sign-stealing, and other scandals, Rose’s lifetime ban has become disproportionate and therefore no longer fair.”

The portion of the petition addressing Pete Rose’s Hall of Fame eligibility specifically asks the President of the Hall of Fame to give voters the opportunity to fairly consider Mr. Rose for baseball’s highest honor alongside his peers, a question that Commissioner Manfred has previously stated is outside his authority and in the purview of leaders of the Hall of Fame. Pete Rose is currently the only living former player ineligible for the Hall, which subjects him to a penalty that no other players accused of equally serious rules violations must endure.

On the matter of Pete Rose’s eligibility for the Hall, Rose’s attorney, Ray Genco, stated, “I agree with Giamatti. At the press conference, Commissioner Giamatti told the world that it was his intent and expectation for the Baseball Writers’ Association of America (BBWAA) to vote on Rose for the Hall, up or down. Two years later, the Hall changed its election rules, undermining the BBWAA’s authority. Given that the BBWAA voters are the gatekeepers to the Hall for every other baseball player and manager the game has ever seen, including those implicated in the steroid era and those implicated in electronic sign-stealing scandals, it is now time for the voters to be allowed to decide the Pete Rose/Hall of Fame debate. Let the voters vote.”