The verdict#039;s in: Mock trial jury votes to put Rose into Hall of Fame
CAMBRIDGE, Mass. - A jury sitting in mock judgment of Pete Rose decided Thursday night that baseball's career hits leader king should be eligible for the Hall of Fame, even though most of the jurors think he bet on baseball.
The 8-4 vote was a victory for defense attorney Johnnie Cochran over Alan Dershowitz, taking a rare turn as a prosecutor for the ESPN-produced event. The lawyers were allies on O.J. Simpson's defense team.
Polled after the verdict, 11 of the 12 jurors said they believed that Rose bet on baseball.
''I hope it isn't too late,'' Dershowitz said after the verdict. ''All you have to do is get him to 'fess up, and everybody will want him.''
After a three-hour trial at Harvard Law School, the jury agreed with Cochran's claim that Rose was punished enough by being kept out of the Hall for 14 years. Some said Rose should be judged on a playing career in which he amassed a record 4,256 hits, and not on his behavior as manager.
''You would not keep Vincent Van Gogh out of the Louvre because he had a drug and alcohol problem, would you?'' Cochran said in his closing argument. ''You wouldn't do that. His work speaks for itself. Pete Rose's work speaks for itself.''
Cochran also argued that baseball had acted unfairly by changing the rules for Hall induction two years after Rose agreed to a lifetime ban in the hope that he would someday be enshrined.
Rose wasn't present, though former players Dave Parker, Steve Garvey and Bill Lee did take the witness stand. Jim Palmer and Hank Aaron testified by videotape.
Court TV host and former Texas judge Catherine Crier presided over the mock trial.
Rose agreed to the lifetime ban in 1989, ending baseball's investigation of his finances and gambling. The commissioner's Dowd Report included evidence from gambling records of bookmakers and betting sheets with Rose's fingerprints that contained wagers by Rose on his Cincinnati Reds while he was managing the team - a violation of baseball's cardinal rule.
Several of the players who testified knew that rule by number - 21D - reinforcing Dershowitz's claim that it is well-known to everyone in the game. It's posted in every major- and minor-league clubhouse, and players are lectured on it each spring.
Rose has admitted having a gambling problem, but he has always denied that he bet on baseball.
Cochran argued that baseball duped Rose into accepting the lifetime ban by allowing him to think he would someday be able to apply for reinstatement. But the rules were changed in 1991 to keep Rose out of the Hall.
''If you started taking people out of the Hall of Fame who had character defects, they wouldn't have a Hall of Fame. It would be a hall of shame,'' Cochran said. ''Enough is enough.''
Dershowitz spent little time trying to prove that Rose bet on baseball. Instead, he focused on Rose's refusal to admit it and apologize.
In a nod to Cochran's famous defense of Simpson, Dershowitz told the jury, ''If you bet on the game, there's no Hall of Fame.''
Aaron and Parker testified they thought Rose should admit his mistakes and apologize before being admitted into the Hall.
Lee said he didn't like Rose as a person but thought he deserves to be in the Hall.
''He's the kind of guy you hate, but if you were going to build a ballclub you'd draft him first,'' Lee said. ''I hate betting … but I don't believe it's the offense it's cracked up to be.''