Trump: “We gotta let Pete Rose into the Hall of Fame"— Zeke Miller (@ZekeJMiller) March 13, 2016
Trump is trying to win votes in Ohio, where he said this during a campaign rally on Sunday, so it's not surprising he would say this to curry favor. But it's also not surprising that he thinks this. Pete Rose fits the profile of Trump and his disaffected supporters perfectly: he's a working-class icon (despite actually being quite rich, Rose's hard-nosed style of play was always considered workmanlike) who has been chewed up and spit out by The Man. Like the manufacturing towns that love Trump, Rose is well past his prime but seems increasingly desperate to regain it. His attempts to stay relevant appear outrageous and sad to the outside world, just like Trump supporters are viewed as backward by the coastal elites. Trump and Rose are even both reality-TV stars. And it's no surprise that Trump finds little fault with Rose's main transgression of betting on baseball. Despite winning the evangelical vote in many states, Trump is not much of a moralist: he is twice-divorced and owns several casinos from Las Vegas to Atlantic City.
At their core, Trump and his fans see an unfeeling, snobbish bureaucracy as conspiring against them—the "establishment" in Washington, DC, who took away what made them great in the first place and now is fighting like hell to prevent them from regaining power through Trump. Similarly, it is Commissioner Rob Manfred and the suits at MLB headquarters who are wronging Rose, first by banning him from baseball and, most recently, by failing to reinstate him. Rose doubtless feels that these unelected executives who never played the game are denying him his real-life accomplishments as baseball's all-time hits leader—and they are refusing to let him join their exclusive club by denying him entrance to the Hall of Fame. Maybe the real question is when we get a Donald endorsement from the Hit King himself, not the other way around.
UPDATE: And there you have it:
SECOND UPDATE: Now Rose's lawyer is claiming that that baseball doesn't mean Rose is endorsing Trump. Rose, apparently, will write whatever you want when he autographs a baseball for you.