Attorneys for Manager Pete Rose of the Cincinnati Reds scored another legal victory Wednesday when an Ohio appeals court ruled that it had no authority to overturn a temporary restraining order that has prevented baseball Commissioner Bart Giamatti from conducting a hearing that could determine Rose’s fate in the game.
A four-month investigation of Rose’s alleged gambling activities by special counsel John Dowd resulted in a 225-page report that accused Rose of betting regularly on the Reds.
Rose could be suspended for life because of that alleged rule violation, but Judge Norbert A. Nadel of the Hamilton County Common Pleas Court ruled Sunday in support of Rose’s contention that Giamatti has prejudged the case. Nadel issued a 14-day restraining order that prevents Giamatti from taking action during that time.
Attorneys for Giamatti on Monday had asked the 1st Ohio District Court of Appeals to overturn the restraining order, saying it undermined the authority of the commissioner’s office, but the three-member court ruled that it lacked authority to act on a temporary restraining order. It said such an order does not deal with the issues or merits of a case.
Will Giamatti now appeal to the Ohio Supreme Court?
Lou Hoynes, the commissioner’s lead attorney, said a decision hasn’t been made.
If there are no other roadblocks, the sides will reconvene in Nadel’s court next Thursday to consider Rose’ request for a preliminary injunction against Giamatti. Both the commissioner and Rose might be called to testify during that procedure.
“The commissioner will certainly be a witness for us,” Hoynes said. “It’s important for us, for him, to be there, and he will be.”
Giamatti stressed Wednesday that the appeals court didn’t decide whether Nadel was correct in his assessment that the commissioner had prejudged Rose, only that it had no authority to act.
“They didn’t affirm Judge Nadel’s finding about me,” he said. “They just decided they couldn’t decide.”
Though Rose has been successful in state court, a federal grand jury in Cincinnati is examining his tax returns.
Dowd’s report on Rose’s gambling activity accuses him of purposely hiding income from race track wagers, public appearances and memorabilia sales.
Paul Janszen, a former associate of Rose, told baseball investigators that Rose always wanted cash for his card-show appearances, made more than $10,000 at most of them and carried it away in a brown paper bag.
Janszen has not appeared before the grand jury, according to sources close to the investigation. However, Janszen has told the U.S. Attorney’s office, the FBI, the Internal Revenue Service and the Drug Enforcement Administration of his dealings with Rose, sources said.
George Steinbrenner, owner of the New York Yankees, accused Peter Ueberroth of leaving his position as baseball commissioner prematurely to avoid dealing with several sensitive issues. Steinbrenner cited the Rose case and the penalties brought on by what two arbitrators have ruled was collusion by baseball’s owners in not signing free agents.
“He rode off into the sunset and left the tough stuff,” Steinbrenner told Newsday, a Long Island newspaper.
“He had six or seven months left on his contract, but his P.R. (public relations) people advised him to get out because the things he had left to face were no-win situations.”
Ueberroth’s contract extended through the end of the year, but Giamatti replaced him April 1.
“Bart’s a good man and he’s inherited a lot of trouble,” Steinbrenner said. “He’ll handle it, but he needs (the owners’) support.
“He is a man of substance and integrity, far more than Ueberroth. Ueberroth has substance, too, but he’s more show than substance. He’s a master opportunist.”
Reached by The Times at his El Toro office, Ueberroth declined comment, saying only that Giamatti has his full support. Giamatti also declined comment.
“Peter wants to be a hero to the population,” Steinbrenner said. “He knew he couldn’t come down on Pete Rose.”
Baseball’s investigation of Rose began under Ueberroth.
Steinbrenner did offer some praise for the former commissioner: “I’m not saying he didn’t do any good. The TV contract was big. But it’s nothing (contrasted) to what he left unfinished.”