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Trump calls on Baseball Hall of Fame to consider Pete Rose

Major League Baseball's all-time hits leader received a lifetime ban for gambling on games.
Pete Rose of the Cincinnati Reds in 1973.
Pete Rose of the Cincinnati Reds in 1973.AP file

President Donald Trump on Saturday called on baseball's Hall of Fame to open its doors to all-time hits leader Pete Rose, who was banned from the game for life for gambling.

"He gambled, but only on his own team winning, and paid a decades long price," Trump tweeted. "GET PETE ROSE INTO THE BASEBALL HALL OF FAME. It’s Time!"

In light of this winter's sign-stealing scandal that saw the termination of one general manager and three field managers, Rose on Wednesday filed a petition for reinstatement to Major League Baseball.

"His lifetime ban is disproportionate relative to other punishments imposed for serious violations that also undermined the integrity of the game," the petition says. "Mr. Rose requests that baseball Commissioner [Rob] Manfred consider this petition in light of recent rule violations by club officials, managers, and players who have severely impugned the integrity of the game of baseball."

The sign-stealing scandal involved players, coaches and management of the Houston Astros. Major League Baseball said the team intercepted opposing pitchers' hand signs with cameras then used trash cans to bang out the results to the home team's defense at Minute Maid Park.

So far, no lifetime bans have been issued.

Rose admitted to gambling on games in which he was involved as the Reds' manager in the 1980s. He said in an autobiography that he bet only on his team to win. Major League Baseball said he also wagered on games when he was a player-manager in 1985 and 1986.

His lifetime ban in 1989 made him ineligible for the Hall of Fame despite his hits record. Rose's petition to Major League Baseball includes an addendum asking that National Baseball Hall of Fame voters be allowed to consider allowing his election.

When Rose last asked to be readmitted to Major League Baseball, in 2015, Manfred declined in a written decision. At the time, Manfred said Rose admitted to him that he continued to bet on baseball and other sports.

Manfred also cited an ESPN report that year about a bookie keeping a notebook that allegedly detailed bets Rose made while an active player in the mid-1980s. Manfred wrote, "It is not at all clear to me that Mr. Rose has a grasp of the scope of his violations."

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Readmitting Rose, he said, would risk "the integrity of our sport."

However, the commissioner said at the time that Rose's eligibility for the Hall of Fame was not in his purview and should be considered separately by that organization.

NBC News reached out to Major League Baseball, the Hall of Fame and Rose's representatives but did not receive an immediate response.

Rose's lawyers argued in the petition that his punishment "is no longer justifiable as a proportional response to his transgressions."

"The time has come to recognize that Mr. Rose’s penalty has become grossly disproportionate relative to Major League Baseball’s treatment of severe wrongdoing by ownership, management, and players," they wrote in the petition.