SPORTS

Troubled times

Evidence continues to mount against Pete Rose

MARK NICHOLS July 10 1989
SPORTS

Troubled times

Evidence continues to mount against Pete Rose

MARK NICHOLS July 10 1989

Troubled times

SPORTS

Evidence continues to mount against Pete Rose

Ever since rumors early this year first linked Pete Rose to alleged gambling offences, the Cincinnati Reds’ manager has steadfastly denied any wrongdoing. But last week, as his lawyers fought an intricate legal battle with baseball commissioner A. Bartlett Giamatti, Rose’s future looked increasingly bleak. According to a 225-page report written by John Dowd, a special investigator appointed by Giamatti, Rose made large bets on baseball and basketball games—and during a three-month period in 1987, he piled up a $400,000 debt with a New York City bookmaker. The seven volumes of exhibits that accompanied Dowd’s report contained other serious accusations. Paul Janszen, a convicted tax-evader who claims that he placed bets for Rose, told investigators that Rose once said he would “think about throwing” a baseball game if he had enough money bet on it.

The latest allegations became public as Rose’s lawyers won a major victory in their campaign to prevent Giamatti from conducting a hearing into the charges against the former power-hitter. At the same time, there were allegations that Rose at one point was interested in setting up a cocaine-dealing ring, and there was suspicion that he may have defrauded the government. Rose—who in his 23 seasons as a major-league player set a stillstanding record of 4,256 hits—could face a lifetime suspension from professional baseball if he is found to have bet on games involving his own team.

The legal tussle began on June 25 when an Ohio county court judge issued a 14-day restraining order that prevented Giamatti from holding a hearing. Judge Norbert A. Nadel of Cincinnati ruled that Giamatti had prejudged the Rose case and that a hearing would be “pointless.” For their part, Giamatti’s lawyers claimed that Nadel’s decision threatened professional baseball’s ability to regulate its own affairs—and they applied to the First Ohio District Court of Appeals for the restraining order to be lifted. Last week, that court said it had no authority to lift the order. Meanwhile, Rose’s lawyers planned to go before Nadel

again this week with a request for an injunction that would indefinitely prevent Giamatti from hearing the charges against Rose.

Rose could face troubles from another source. A federal grand jury in Cincinnati is investigating whether his tax returns for some years were in order. Dowd’s report said that Rose concealed income from his race-track winnings and from other sources. And last week, Rose Fembach Billiter, the former girlfriend of a Rose associate, told reporters

that she had provided corroboration for a claim in the Dowd report. She said that in 1987, Rose conspired to cover up a $47,646 race-track win—an action that could result in charges of conspiracy to defraud the government.

In still another allegation against Rose, Janszen was quoted in a transcript accompanying the Dowd report as saying that Rose once asked him to set up a cocaine-selling ring so that he could eam a share of the profits. The accusation was bitterly rejected by Rose’s lawyer, Robert A. Pitcairn Jr., who told reporters that the “idea of Rose being involved with drugs is so far off the wall that it’s ridiculous.” Still, with the evidence against him mounting, it seemed likely that the man who used to be known as Charlie Hustle would face an inevitable day of reckoning.

MARK NICHOLS