Dowd Report

From BR Bullpen

The Dowd Report was compiled by special counsel John M. Dowd in 1989 at the request of Commissioner Bart Giamatti to assess allegations that Pete Rose had bet on baseball games during the 1986 season while player/manager of the Cincinnati Reds.

The report concludes that there is significant evidence that Rose bet on baseball, based on the testimony of various Rose associates of less-than-stellar reputation, analysis of banking and telephone records, and a few recovered betting slips that can only be interpreted as relating to baseball games. Dowd did not have subpoena powers, so the amount of evidence he was able to uncover was limited, however, what he did find paints a picture of a man who was addicted to gambling at the time and placed a number of bets during baseball season. The report was criticized by some, most notably author Bill James, for not meeting appropriate standards of evidence and for reaching its conclusions based on an interpretation of partial evidence only. However, later confessions by Rose himself, each more damning than the previous ones, and the discovery in 2015 of a notebook kept by Rose detailing his betting activity, have served to vindicate Dowd's interpretation of events.

The Report was one of a number of missions that Dowd performed for Commissioners Peter Ueberroth and Giamatti in the late 1980s; others also touched on issues related to sports betting, but he also led the investigation which resulted in New York Yankees owner George Steinbrenner being suspended in 1991 for consorting with the unsavory Howard Spira to dig up dirt on Dave Winfield. He commented on the Rose scandal to the media on a few occasions over the years, reaffirming his conviction that Rose was guilty. He also incurred Rose's wrath and was sued for stating to the media in the summer of 2016 that he had uncovered evidence that Rose had an extra-marital affair with an underage minor in the late 1970s. Dowd reappeared in the headlines in 2017 for completely different reasons, when he served as lead counsel for President Donald Trump in the special counsel investigation into alleged Russian interference in the 2016 Presidential Election, before abruptly resigning in March 2018, claiming the President refused to follow his advice or legal strategy.

After receiving the report, Giamatti reached a deal with Rose's attorneys that Major League Baseball would not make a finding of guilt against Rose, but that Rose would drop a lawsuit he had filed against MLB and accept to be permanently banned from baseball, with the possibility of asking for reinstatement at a later date. However, after this decision was made public, Giamatti was asked by a reporter whether he thought Rose was guilty as charged and answered yes. Then, a couple of days later, he died of a sudden heart attack, and never had a chance to explain the motives for his decision.

The ban on Rose ended a drawn-out saga that had been all over the media for months on end. Many speculate that the toll of this issue greatly contributed to Giamatti's premature death. It seems that while he was convinced that Rose was guilty, he also realized that Major League Baseball may not have had enough evidence to be certain that it would win in court, and wanted to avoid undue dragging out of the distraction.

Rose did appeal for reinstatement, to Fay Vincent, Bud Selig and Rob Manfred, but all three of Giamatti's successors refused to re-open the matter. While at first there was a lot of sentiment in support of Rose, it eventually dwindled as all the evidence that has turned up since - including Rose's own partial confessions and his later behavior - has tended to corroborate Dowd's conclusions.

"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 to the Commissioner, Mr. Rose has accepted baseball's ultimate sanction, lifetime ineligibility." A. Bartlett Giamatti, August 24, 1989

Further Reading[edit]

  • Paul Daugherty: "Doc: Notebook closes door on Pete Rose reinstatement", USA Today, June 22, 2015. [1]
  • Bill James: "The Dowd Report", in The Baseball Book 1990, Villard Books, New York, NY, 1990, pp. 126-140. ISBN 0-679-72411-7
  • James Pitcher and John Fay: "ESPN report may hurt Pete Rose's reinstatement bid", The Cincinnati Enquirer, June 23, 2015. [2]

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