Dowd: Rose should put pen down, start reading

Lawyer whose findings uncovered illegal betting says he's miffed by book


January 18, 2004|By Murray Chass | Murray Chass,THE NEW YORK TIMES

NEW YORK - John Dowd has read Pete Rose's new book. "I concluded after reading it," Dowd said, "that he never read my report. He's autographed it and sold it but never read it."

Dowd is the Washington lawyer whose 1989 investigation of Rose and his betting habits led to the lifetime banishment from baseball from which Rose is trying desperately to escape during his lifetime.

Commissioner Bud Selig has shown no inclination to reinstate Rose. Should he ever take that step, Selig will very likely rule out the possibility of Rose's managing again or even taking a meaningful front-office job. If Rose is reinstated so he can be eligible for the Hall of Fame, his chances of election by the writers seem to be slim and by the veterans committee virtually nonexistent.

"He doesn't seem to get it; he probably never will," a baseball official said after the fallout from Rose's book and his comments in interviews.

Dowd's assessment of Rose's lack of reading comes in part from a passage in his book, in which Rose relates that at a November 2002 meeting he told Selig, "I never made any bets from the clubhouse." The 225-page Dowd report details on dozens of pages telephone calls Rose's betting buddies made to his clubhouse office at Riverfront Stadium in Cincinnati in the hours before Reds games and then to bookies, presumably to place Rose's bets.

"One of the most impressive exhibits we put together was when we combined the telephone records in that period in 1987 with operators' records at Riverfront Stadium," Dowd said. "It was one of the most damning pieces of circumstantial evidence I've ever seen."

If that evidence was the best Dowd developed during his investigation, a subsequent encounter with baseball officials was the most puzzling aspect of post-investigation developments.

In 1998, Major League Baseball filed a complaint with the District of Columbia Bar contending that Dowd had violated lawyer-client privilege.

"Probably the worst thing was when Bud Selig's lawyers tried to take my law license," Dowd said.

He referred to Bob DuPuy, currently president and chief operating officer of Major League Baseball. "Here I was defending the decision of the commissioner of baseball, and they didn't want me to do it."

It almost seemed as if baseball was siding with Rose against Dowd, but DuPuy said that was never so. "At the time," DuPuy said, "John was repeatedly and consistently commenting on the work he had done for baseball and the Rose case. Pete had an application for reinstatement pending, and we didn't think it was appropriate while that application was pending for a lawyer to be talking about the case. We asked John to stop commenting and he refused."

Dowd said: "It was clear they wanted me to shut up. But there was no privilege. Everything I had I gave to Rose's lawyers." He did so, Dowd said, under instructions from A. Bartlett Giamatti, then the commissioner.

"It's no fun when someone goes after your meal ticket," Dowd said. "It was especially difficult when it was the commissioner of baseball doing it." The bar council, however, dismissed the complaint.

"In fairness," DuPuy said, "we have not had any occasion to address that issue with him since then. No one here has challenged the efficacy or protocol of the work that John did."

In fact, baseball assigned another lawyer to redo the Rose investigation, and it came out the same way.

That would have been two strikes against Rose if he hadn't had three.

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