The fans have spoken, and Bud Selig says it makes no difference: Pete Rose isn't coming back to baseball, not as long as he's commissioner.
Selig was in the stands Sunday night and heard the 55-second ovation for the banned career hits leader, the longest ovation for any of the 30 members of the All-Century team.
"That certainly can't influence your decision," Selig said Tuesday night before Game 3 of the World Series. "In life, you have to do what you think is right as Bart did, as other commissioners did. You can't be governed by what you think a number of people feel."
Following an investigation of Rose's gambling 10 years ago, the Cincinnati Reds manager agreed to a lifetime ban from baseball. Rose applied for reinstatement in September 1997, but Selig has not yet made a formal ruling.
Still, Selig hasn't hidden his feelings on the matter, saying he's seen no new evidence.
"The Bart Giamatti decision was very clear and very lucid on all points," Selig said. "I've made my feelings well known over the past year."
As long as Rose remains on the permanently banned list, he is ineligible for the Hall of Fame ballot. Selig said he sees no reason for a compromise decision in which Rose could enter the Hall but still remain banned from baseball.
"These kind of situations in life really don't call for a middle grounds decision," Selig said.
Selig said he didn't second-guess himself for inviting Rose to participate in the ceremony with the other 17 living members of the team, but he didn't want to get into the debate on Jim Gray's controversial interview with Rose on NBC after the ceremony.
"We're always better off when the focus of the game is on the field, not on us," Selig said. "But no one ever said life is simple, and this proves that."
"After viewing the videotape, I can understand the reaction of many baseball fans," Gray said before NBC's telecast of Game 3 of the World Series on Tuesday night. "I thought that it was important to ask Pete Rose if this was the right moment for him to make an apology."
"If in doing so, the interview went on too long and took out some of the joy of the occasion, then I want to say to baseball fans everywhere that I'm very sorry about this."
©1999 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed