COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Cincinnati Reds Manager Pete Rose, preparing for a legal showdown with Baseball Commissioner A. Bartlett Giamatti, lost his home field advantage in a lawsuit over career-threatening gambling allegations.
A federal judge Monday ruled Rose's lawsuit seeking to prevent Giamatti from conducting a disciplinary hearing should be heard in federal court in Columbus, not a local court in Rose's hometown of Cincinnati.
The ruling was seen as a blow to Rose both because an elected Cincinnati judge may have looked more favorably on the home-grown hero and because federal courts have consistently upheld the sweeping powers of professional baseball commissioners.
The decision by U.S. District Judge John Holschuh was the first significant court victory for Giamatti, who temporarily lost the right to discipline Rose in a Cincinnati court five weeks ago.
'I am gratified by this decision and I look forward to the next steps,' Giamatti said.
The next step would be an Aug. 14 hearing on Rose's request for an injunction blocking Giamatti's planned disciplinary hearing, unless Rose's attorneys appeal Monday's jurisdictional decision.
Holschuh gave Rose's lawyers until Aug. 11 to appeal.
'We will be reviewing the 47-page decision in the next day or so before deciding whether to appeal,' said Reuven Katz, Rose's agent and legal counsel.
Rose, who holds baseball's career record of 4,256 hits, has been charged by baseball investigator John Dowd of gambling on baseball games, including Reds games.
Under baseball rules, if the commissioner concludes Rose gambled on Reds games, Rose would be banned from baseball for life.
Rose, claiming Giamatti is biased against him and has already concluded he is guilty, convinced Hamilton County (Cincinnati) Common Pleas Court Judge Norbert Nadel five weeks ago to issue a temporary restraining order against Giamatti's participation in the Rose case.
Nadel then said he would hear Rose's request for a preliminary injunction against Giamatti but before that hearing ever got started, Giamatti's attorneys sought to have the case moved to federal court.
Lawyers for the baseball commissioner contended federal court was the proper venue for a suit filed by a Cincinnati resident (Rose) against a New York resident (Giamatti).
Rose's lawyers argued that Major League Baseball had franchises in various states, and since two of the corporations were in Ohio -- the Reds and the Cleveland Indians -- diversity of citizenship did not apply.
Holschuh agreed with Giamatti's attorneys that there was 'diversity of citizenship' and that the matter belonged in federal court.
'The controversy in this case is between plaintiff Rose and defendant Giamatti,' Holschuh siad. 'They are the real parties at interest in this case. The Cincinnati Reds and Major League Baseball are, at best, nominal parties in this controversy.'
Cincinnati Reds' owner Marge Schott, in a brief statement in reaction to the decision, indicated she feels the Rose controversy has diminished the 'enjoyment' of baseball by both Reds' players and fans.
'This situation is in the hands of the commissioner,' Schott said. 'I just hope this is resolved soon so the players and fans can get back to enjoying the game of baseball.'
In the meantime, the stipulations to which Giamatti and the Reds agreed earlier -- that Rose could not be fired or disciplined -- are to remain in effect until Aug. 14.