Cincinnati Reds Manager Pete Rose is “permanently ineligible” for baseball employment because of gambling charges, Baseball Commissioner Bart Giamatti announced Thursday.
Although technically Rose is banned from the game for life, he can apply for reinstatement after a year, Giamatti said. The agreement reached with lawyers for Rose on Wednesday did not include reinstatement, he said.
“There is no fixed term, no deal (regarding reinstatement),” the commissioner said at a news conference. “I have an open mind and have assured Mr. Rose’s counsel of that fact.
“The burden is entirely on Mr. Rose to reconfigure his life in a way he deems appropriate.”
An unrepentant Rose, at a news conference in Cincinnati, continued to deny that he has ever bet on baseball.
Rose, 48, asked if he thought that a rehabilitation program of some sort would be a requisite for reinstatement, said: “No, because I don’t think I have a gambling problem. As a consequence, I will not seek help at this time.”
Said Giamatti, when asked the same question: “I think confident steps toward rehabilitation should be taken in a direction that heretofore has not been taken, but rehabilitation is not required in the agreement.”
The historic suspension took effect immediately.
“He has been fired by me, if you want to put it in those terms,” Giamatti said of Rose and his position as the Reds’ manager.
Tommy Helms, a coach under Rose, was named interim manager and is expected to run the team for the rest of the season. Chuck Tanner and Jim Fregosi are rumored to be the leading candidates to get the job for next season.
In announcing terms of the agreement, which ended a six-month investigation and legal fight between Rose and Giamatti, the commissioner said that in the absence of a hearing and formal finding, it was his personal conclusion that Rose had bet on baseball and on the Reds, as outlined earlier this season by his special investigator, attorney John Dowd, in a 225-page report.
Reading from a statement, Giamatti said:
“The banishment for life of Pete Rose from baseball is the sad end of a sorry episode. One of the game’s greatest players has engaged in a variety of acts which have stained the game, and he must now live with the consequences of those acts. By choosing not to come to a hearing before me, and by choosing not to proffer any testimony or evidence contrary to the evidence and information contained in the report of the special counsel . . . Mr. Rose has accepted baseball’s ultimate sanction, lifetime ineligibility.”
In summarizing the agreement in a release distributed at the news conference, the commissioner’s office listed the following points:
--Rose will drop all litigation against Giamatti.
--Rose has acknowledged the sole and exclusive authority of the commissioner to resolve the matter and agreed there will be no further hearing on it by the courts or baseball.
--Rose has further acknowledged that the commissioner acted in good faith throughout the investigation and other proceedings.
May Seek Reinstatement
--Rose may apply for reinstatement under terms of a rule that prohibits such application for at least a year.
--If he applies, Rose has agreed not to contest the decision or the procedure employed.
--Rose, in terms of the agreement, neither denies nor admits that he bet on baseball.
The five-page agreement, signed Wednesday by Giamatti, Rose and Rose’s attorney, Reuven Katz, seemed to represent a total victory for the commissioner in that he neither abdicated his authority nor compromised on the punishment.
For Rose, it was a strange conclusion to his attempt to prove in court that Giamatti had prejudged the manager.
Scheduled hearings to determine Giamatti’s eligibility to preside in the case were canceled twice by court rulings, one of which granted Rose a temporary restraining order against Giamatti. Rose’s bid for a preliminary injunction was scheduled to be heard by Judge John D. Holschuh of the U.S. District Court in Columbus, Ohio, on Monday, but that hearing has now been canceled.
Why, if he believed Giamatti was biased, would Rose have submitted to an agreement with him and said that the commissioner had acted in good faith?
Why, if he had not bet on the Reds or baseball, would he have agreed to a lifetime ban without continuing his legal pursuit of a trial by judge or jury?
Rose’s answers were not clear, and Giamatti refused to speculate, although he did say that Katz, starting in April, had made settlement overtures that Giamatti rejected because they would have required compromises on his part, particularly in the length of the suspension.
Giamatti said that Katz began pressing the issue again last Friday, this time on the commissioner’s terms.
Why? Two theories were prevalent:
--Rose’s legal expenses are said to be close to $2 million and he may face additional legal costs when a federal grand jury in Cincinnati finishes its investigation into his alleged tax evasion.
Loses $500,000 Salary
His financial situation is such--he now loses $500,000 a year in managerial salary--that he appeared on a shopping mart TV show in Minneapolis on Wednesday night, hawking memorabilia.
Thus, when the federal appeals court rejected his bid to return his lawsuit against Giamatti to state jurisdiction last week, Rose might have decided that further expenses would be wasteful. Federal courts have consistently upheld the authority of the commissioner’s office.
--Dowd’s continuing investigation has reportedly linked Rose to betting rings in Chicago and Tampa--besides previously established activity in New York and Cincinnati--and he might have finally wearied of the legal onslaught and publicity glare.
“I didn’t want this thing to keep hanging on,” Rose said. “I was tired of it, and it could have gone on for a year. Reuven (Katz) was able to work out this settlement and I agree with it.
“It’s not an admission of guilt nor a victory or defeat for either side. It’s more a compromise, and I think it’s fair, especially the finding that I did not bet on baseball.
“I told the commissioner that in February, and I’ll say it again today.”
No Formal Findings
The agreement reads only that the commissioner “will not make any formal findings or determinations on any matter including, without limitation, the allegation” that Rose bet on games.
Rose, at his news conference, said he would tell his entire story at some point before he becomes eligible for election to the Hall of Fame. He said he is being punished for the mistake of telling Dowd in his deposition that he bet on other sports.
“I could have been suspended for betting on anything,” he said. “I’d already admitted betting on other things.”
Those other things were football and horse racing, often through illegal bookmakers, Rose has admitted.
Giamatti confirmed Thursday that “other factors and associations” might have resulted in a suspension, aside from the overwhelming evidence in the Dowd report that Rose bet on baseball and the Reds.
Asked at his news conference if he had a message for the fans, Rose said he would thank them for 28 years of support and assure them he has too much love and respect for baseball to have ever bet on it. He said he eventually hopes to be reinstated and to return to the Reds in some capacity.
“I love the Reds. My middle name should be Reds,” he said. “This is the greatest place to play and manage. This is the baseball capital, as far as I’m concerned.
“As you can imagine, this is just a very sad day. I’ve been in baseball four decades. . . . To think I’m going to be out for a short period of time hurts.
“In fact, I’ve never looked forward to a birthday more. Two days after my daughter (who was born Tuesday) turns 1, I can apply for reinstatement.”
Rose was a hometown hero whose aggressive style set the standard for hustle. He eventually broke Ty Cobb’s major league record for hits and the proud people of Cincinnati named a street near Riverfront Stadium after him.
Is he now to be remembered as the Riverfront gambler?
“No individual is bigger or superior to the game,” Giamatti said, adding that he considered gambling a covert act that threatened the integrity of the individual, his team and the sport.
Judge Kenesaw Mountain Landis established that concept, Giamatti said, when he handed lifetime suspensions to eight members of the Chicago White Sox for allegedly fixing games in the 1919 World Series. No player has ever been reinstated under baseball rules, and Rose is probably the most illustrious to draw a lifetime suspension since Shoeless Joe Jackson, a member of the 1919 White Sox.
“This has been a difficult ordeal,” Giamatti said. “Let no one think that it did not hurt baseball.
“But this is a resilient institution that will go forward, and in the final analysis the public’s confidence will be strengthened because it should be clear that no matter who you are or what you’ve accomplished, grave accusations of this type will be pursued vigorously.
“Let there be no doubt about our vigilance--and patience--in protecting the game from blemish or disgrace.”
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