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Judge Delays Decision on Rose Until Sunday

June 24, 1989|BILL PLASCHKE | Times Staff Writer

CINCINNATI — Pete Rose must wait until Sunday to learn whether he will have to appear at a scheduled hearing with baseball Commissioner Bart Giamatti concerning Rose's alleged gambling activities, a state judge decided Friday.

At the conclusion of a two-day hearing on Rose's request to take the matter out of Giamatti's hands, Judge Norbert A. Nadel of Hamilton County Common Pleas court said that he needed more time to study the evidence. Nadel said he would open the courthouse Sunday morning and announce his ruling at noon.

The temporary restraining order sought by the Cincinnati Reds manager is the first step in a lawsuit filed to move the decision on Rose's fate into a court of law. Rose, who has been accused of betting on baseball, including games involving his own team, maintains that Giamatti has already judged him guilty.

If Nadel issues the restraining order, the hearing with Giamatti would be postponed for 14 days, during which time Rose would probably seek a permanent injunction barring major league baseball from further involvement in the case.

"I had hoped to decide the matter by the end of this hearing . . . but a decision that quick will be impossible," Nadel announced to a crowded courtroom Friday.

"The material is voluminous and far-reaching. Mr. Rose's lawyers are attempting to take this lawsuit into uncharted waters. Because of the importance of it, I want to take as much time as I can to be fair and correct."

Before Friday's game with the Dodgers here, Red management made Rose unavailable for comment. The team's clubhouse was closed and the area around the dugout was roped off. Both actions violate a commissioner's edict regarding pregame media access. Rose had spent the day in Atlantic City, N.J., signing autographs at a baseball memorabilia show.

"I think it's tremendous on his (Nadel's) part to take a couple extra days to read everything," Rose said on his pregame radio show. "We feel confident he'll make the right decision."

"I heard one quote the judge made that there's a lot of hearsay in the courtroom. I'd second that."

The hearing featured testimony Thursday from John Dowd, baseball's special investigator, who said he had substantial evidence that Rose had bet heavily on baseball games, including those of the Reds.

Dowd testified that a 225-page report he submitted to Giamatti contains records of telephone calls, checks and betting sheets linking Rose with bookmakers and betting. If Rose is found to have bet on baseball, he could be suspended for a year. If he bet on the Reds, he faces a possible lifetime ban from the game.

Nadel has sealed the report, but the Ohio Supreme Court, acting on a lawsuit filed by a newspaper, the (Cleveland) Plain Dealer, ruled late Friday that he must release it by Monday at 5 p.m. or give an acceptable reason for not doing so.

The contents of the report form the basis for Rose's lawsuit.

Rose's lawyers cited it throughout the hearing as being "biased and unfair," and an exploitation of the absolute ruling powers held by the commissioner's office since the 1919 Black Sox scandal. Despite many attempts since then, those powers have never been succesfully challenged on legal grounds.

"And this court should not be the first to disturb major league baseball's existing structure," said Louis Hoynes Jr., baseball's chief counsel, in his closing statement Friday. "Pete Rose deserves no special treatment, he deserves no unusual treatment."

Robert Stachler, one of Rose's attorneys, in his closing argument, said: "The report contains the rankest hearsay, secret recordings, loaned evidence . . . and they want to tell Pete Rose, 'Come in, here are the accusations . . . prove you did not do it.' It was not an investigative report, it was more like a closing argument from a frustrated and vindictive prosecutor."

Stachler added: "If things go forward on the 26th (Monday), Rose will be wrongly branded. This is a life sentence that's at stake."

During cross-examination Friday, Dowd claimed that Giamatti has made no decisions.

"Giamatti has reached no conclusion to the ultimate issue. . . . I think he is a smarter man, a wiser man," Dowd testified. "That's why he has not taken Rose off the field. That's why he allowed Rose another 30 days (after postponing an earlier hearing date at Rose's request). His mind has always been open."

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