CINCINNATI -- A lawyer for baseball Commissioner A. Bartlett Giamatti said Thursday investigators had uncovered substantial evidence that Cincinnati Reds Manager Pete Rose had bet on baseball games.
Louis Hoynes made the assertion in an opening statement at a hearing in Hamilton County Common Pleas Court on Rose's bid for a temporary restraining order blocking a scheduled hearing Monday before the commissioner. Judge Norbert Nadel adjourned the hearing in late afternoon and said it would resume Friday.
Rose's lawyers presented a strategy to treat the gambling allegations as a peripheral issue, focusing instead on the way Giamatti handled the investigation. One of the witnesses testifying on Rose's behalf was Sam Dash, chief counsel for the Senate Watergate committee in 1973-74 and now a Georgetown University law professor.
The hearing began as The New York Times reported the FBI has obtained betting sheets with Rose's fingerprints from Paul Janszen, a former friend of Rose's who was investigated in a cocaine case. The Times's story said the sheets indicate Rose bet on the Reds.
Opening the hearing, Rose's lawyer, Robert Stachler, said Giamatti had already decided Rose was guilty.
'Pete Rose is entitled to have an impartial decision maker and fair procedures for judging the accusations made against him,' he said. 'I submit, your honor, that we're not here ... to determine whether Pete Rose bet on baseball (games). The issue ... is whether he's entitled to a fair hearing.'
But Hoynes told the judge he had no jurisdiction in the case and that the commissioner 'intends to conduct a hearing in a fair and even-handed manner. It's inappropriate for the court to block the hearing.'
'There is evidence, substantial and heavily corroborated evidence, that Mr. Rose bet large sums of money on major league baseball games (including on the Cincinnati Reds),' Hoynes said.
The first witness called by Stachler was another of Rose's lawyers, Robert Pitcairn, who testified about his dealings with the commissioner's office during the Rose investigation.
'Mr. Dowd (John Dowd, Giamatti's chief investigator) specifically promised to me that he was not going to make any conclusions (about Rose's guilt),' Pitcairn said. 'I think it's pretty clear that the commissioner has rejected any arguments that attack the credibility of Mr. Peters.'
Ronald Peters, a former tavern owner who was given a reduced two-year sentence on drug and tax charges last week, has said he booked thousands of dollars in bets by Rose.
'We were prevented from any real right to confront witnesses, cross-examine witnesses,' Pitcairn said. 'Credibility is an important issue in this case.'
Dowd, however, disputed Pitcairn's charges, noting he had discussed his investigation extensively with Rose during a two-day meeting April 20-21 in Dayton.
'Every subject we covered in the report was covered with Rose (during the meeting),' Dowd said.
He said he showed Rose the betting sheets and told him a handwriting expert had said it was his handwriting. He also disputed Pitcairn's contention that the report was one-sided, noting there were nine witnesses who testified Rose had gambled and nine who said he had not.
'There isn't a day when I haven't felt enormous sadness about this matter,' he said.
Dash, who was called into the case about one month ago, was strongly critical of the way the investigation had been conducted.
'No accused (person) I know of in this country has ever had to prove his own innocence,' he said. 'I think it's unprecedented. The accused is being asked to come before the commissioner and confront pieces of paper.'
More than 100 people and a half-dozen television cameras jammed the courtroom. Outside, Jerry Davidson of Brent, Ky., dressed in an Uncle Sam costume, called for legalization of gambling and an end to the persecution 'of America's hero.'
The Times said the betting sheets that had Rose's fingerprints on them include the dates and games involved, the teams Rose bet on, the odds and the amount he bet. Janszen, a bodybuilder who says he placed bets for the Reds manager, gave copies of the sheets to the commissioner's office before turning over the originals to the FBI.
'Rose is claiming the sheets are forgeries,' the unidentified source told the Times. 'He says he didn't write them but we're as confident as we can be that he did.'
One of the betting sheets cited in Rose's complaint shows a discrepancy. Rose purportedly bet on an April 9, 1987 game that Cincinnati played in Montreal,but Rose's lawyers point out that was an off day. The Reds played the Expos the previous day in Cincinnati.
Dowd said, however, the discrepancy was noted in his report.
Rose's lawyers also said in their suit the original betting sheets were altered, 'making handwriting analysis impossible.' The Times's source said the alleged alterations could occur from chemicals in the fingerprinting process.
A key point, Stachler said, was major league baseball's Rule 3, which he said requires all such proceedings before the commissioner be conducted like judicial proceedings, with regard 'to fair play by all parties.'