The fact is, says Bill Guilfoile, the Hall's associate director, that the committee, composed of baseball executives and writers, will meet this winter just to fine-tune the voting process. "We do this periodically," says Guilfoile. "The meeting has nothing to do with Pete Rose. I can't understand the furor. The BBWAA knew about this weeks ago."
The BBWAA is the most powerful journalistic outfit in sports. It not only conducts annual voting for the Hall of Fame, but it also elects MVPs and Cy Young Award winners, etc. Some of its 450 members consider the BBWAA to be as sacred as, well, the Hall of Fame.
There may be no more highly charged question in. sports than, Should Pete Rose be in the Hall of Fame? Personally, I feel he shouldn't be inducted until he is allowed back into organized baseball—assuming that happens. I'm not saying that his great career should be ignored, but I do think his banishment from the game should hold sway.
But if he's elected, so be it. I just keep wondering why people get more indignant over the possibility that Rose won't get into the Hall than over the fact that he bet on baseball games.
A BATTERED BRUIN CALLS IT QUITS
Athletes' bodies are deceptively fragile, only when disaster strikes are we reminded that their careers hang by threads of sinew. Consider the saga of Gord Kluzak. Chosen by the Boston Bruins with the first pick of the 1982 NHL draft, Kluzak was viewed as a franchise player, a no-nonsense defense-man around whom Boston would build a championship team. "We thought he had the potential to be a Hall of Famer," says Bruin general manager Harry Sinden. The son of a Saskatchewan wheat farmer, Kluzak was 6'4" and 215 pounds. His teammates called him Gordzilla, so immune did he seem to physical impairment.
Yet on Nov. 12, Kluzak, who is only 26, announced his retirement because of a damaged left knee on which surgeons had operated an incredible 11 times in the last six years. In the 1986-87 season alone, Kluzak had four operations on the knee. "I've never seen someone labor over an injury as long as he did," says Kevin Dupont of The Boston Globe. "His story should have had a happy ending."
Kluzak's physical woes began during a 1984 preseason game when the New Jersey Devils' Dave Lewis nailed him with a clean check that damaged ligaments and cartilage in his left knee and ended his '84-85 season before it began. During a torturous struggle to return to the ice, Kluzak reckons he rode enough miles on his stationary bike to go from Boston to Los Angeles and back. "It got to the point where we all would wait around after practice to see if Gordie's knee had swelled up," says Bruin defenseman Don Sweeney. "A day of nonswelling was a victory, a little light at the end of the tunnel." Kluzak played 66 games in the '87-88 season, but played just 13 more thereafter, though he continued valiantly to rehabilitate his knee after each of his operations. Last spring the Professional Hockey Writers' Association awarded Kluzak its prestigious Masterton Trophy, given annually for "perseverance, sportsmanship and dedication to hockey."
This fall Kluzak fought his way back to the ice once again. On Nov. 5, at Madison Square Garden, he was his team's best defenseman in a 3-2 overtime win over the Rangers, but the knee swelled badly after the game. Kluzak took a week to announce his decision, but said in a tearful farewell that he had made up his mind after that game. He said, "We'd just won in overtime, and I'd played a regular shift, but I didn't feel anything. Something inside me was telling me that was going to be it."