MLB-Citing sign-stealing punishments, Rose applies for reinstatement

Feb 5 (Reuters) - Former player and manager Pete Rose applied for reinstatement to Major League Baseball (MLB) on Wednesday, arguing that his lifetime ban from the league for gambling on baseball games was not a “proportional response.”

Representatives for the all-time hits leader cited the recent sign-stealing scandal that engulfed numerous players and clubs, including the 2017 World Series champion Houston Astros, in his argument to have the 1989 ruling lifted.

“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,” a statement released by Rose’s representatives said.

The 78-year-old former Cincinnati Reds player and manager has previously petitioned to have his ban reversed, having maintained that his transgressions did not have an impact on the outcome of any games.

Rose, who also played for the Philadelphia Phillies and Montreal Expos, was known as a hustling switch-hitter with occasional power, ultimately becoming MLB’s all-time leader in hits (4,256) and games played (3,562), with a career batting average of .303.

Last month the Astros fired then-manager A.J. Hinch and General Manager Jeff Luhnow after the league handed each a year-long ban for their involvement in a scandal that involved stealing pitch signs from opposing catchers.

MLB did not punish any individual players for the scheme but did hand Houston a $5 million fine and the loss of first- and second-round draft picks in 2020 and 2021.

A statement from Rose’s representatives also cites the discipline handed down by the league during the “steroids era” of the late 1980s to early 2000s as a motivating factor in filing the petition.

“No players involved in those scandals have received a remotely comparable punishment to the 31-year ban suffered by Mr. Rose,” the statement read, adding that he would like to be considered for election to the baseball Hall of Fame.

Rose previously denied allegations of gambling but admitted to the activity in a 2004 memoir. His most recent bid for reinstatement was denied in 2015. (Reporting by Amy Tennery in New York Editing by Matthew Lewis)