Major league baseball is investigating “serious allegations” involving Pete Rose, the commissioner’s office acknowledged Monday, and one source said the Cincinnati Reds manager faces a possible suspension for gambling activities.
The commissioner’s office, in an unusual, carefully worded statement, did not say what the allegations were, but Rose is admittedly an avid bettor on horse and dog races. He has denied betting on college basketball games and he has never been accused of betting on baseball.
“The office of the commissioner, which was founded to preserve the integrity of the game, has for several months been conducting a full inquiry into serious allegations involving Mr. Pete Rose,” Commissioner Peter Ueberroth said in a joint statement issued with A. Bartlett Giamatti, the National League president and commissioner elect.
“When the commissioner’s office has completed its inquiry, the commissioner will consider the information presented and take whatever action is warranted by the facts consistent with the rules and procedures of major league baseball,” the statement said.
Asked if he was aware of the announcement, Rose said, “Yeah.” Asked if he had anything to say about it, he nodded toward the release and said: “That’s it. No comment.”
“If something happens, when it happens I’ll talk about it then,” Rose said.
Rose flew to New York from spring training on Feb. 20 to meet with Ueberroth, Giamatti and several lawyers. At the time, the commissioner’s office said the matter was private, but several published reports said gambling was discussed.
Not until Monday did baseball acknowledge it was investigating Rose. And one baseball source, who asked not to be identified, said that the statement “was a prelude to what’s going to happen in the next couple of days.”
John M. Dowd, a trial lawyer with the Washington firm of Heron, Burchette, Ruckert & Rothwell, is leading the investigation as special counsel to the commissioner.
The 47-year-old Dowd headed a Justice Department organized crime task force from 1972 to 1978 and led investigations of the FBI and of former Pennsylvania Rep. Dan Flood. Dowd said Monday that he had been investigating Rose for about a month and did not know how much longer the inquiry would last.
“It’s dictated by the facts and circumstances. I have no idea,” Dowd said. He would not discuss the nature of the investigation.
Baseball personnel are prohibited from betting on baseball games, but they are allowed to make legal bets at tracks, a common pastime for baseball players and managers. Despite that, baseball personnel have been suspended for associating with gamblers.
“Sure I go to the racetracks,” Rose has said. “I own a couple of thoroughbreds. But I never patronize racetracks like some guys, when I’m supposed to be at the baseball park, only on off-days.”
Rose said last year, “I’m not supposed to gamble. They talked to me about that.”
Rose has denied reports that he was among a group that shared winning pick-six tickets worth $265,669.20 at Turfway Park in Florence, Ky., on Jan. 25. Arnold Metz, a friend of Rose’s, signed for the winning tickets, reports said.
Rose was suspended for 30 days last year for bumping umpire Dave Pallone twice at Riverfront Stadium on April 30, the longest suspension given a manager in 41 years.
Several managers and baseball officials said they thought the penalty was excessive and Giamatti was criticized for the decision.
Red General Manager Murray Cook said he was not aware of any details of the investigation. He said he had not spoken with Rose about the allegations and that the ballclub was not involved in the inquiry.
“Obviously, it’s a personal thing,” Cook said. “It’s up to the commissioner. I don’t have any problems with that at all. I have confidence in the commissioner and his people that they’re not handling whatever it is capriciously.”
Asked if he was concerned that Rose would be suspended again, Cook said: “I have no comment on any of that. How can you make any comment if you don’t know what it is?”
Hall of Famers Willie Mays and Mickey Mantle were suspended while in retirement by former commissioner Bowie Kuhn for accepting public relations jobs with casinos. Mays was suspended Oct. 27, 1979, and Mantle on Feb. 8, 1983.
Ueberroth reversed Kuhn’s decision and reinstated them on March 18, 1985.
Brooklyn Dodgers Manager Leo Durocher was suspended for the 1947 season by former Commissioner A.B. (Happy) Chandler for alleged associations with gamblers.