Pete Rose and Bart Giamatti

There were, as people who paid attention to MLB around 1990 already know, greater problems for Pete Rose and Bart Giamatti in the wake of Rose’s banishment from baseball in late August 1989. Here is much of the article Ross Newham of the L.A. Times wrote on Giamatti’s death by heart attack on Martha’s Vineyard, in Massachusetts, on September 1 of ’89, I believe exactly a week after handing down the punishment:

Giamatti, a chain smoker who once said that cigarettes were his primary vice and who resisted the efforts of a number of baseball owners who tried to get him to quit smoking, had left New York Friday morning to spend the Labor Day weekend on the popular vacation island.

“I dropped him off at noon on Martha’s Vineyard and he seemed fine,” deputy commissioner Francis T. Vincent Jr., who traveled to New England with Giamatti, said. “This is a tremendous shock. He was a uniquely talented man who had great friends and admirers. It’s a serious loss for the country, the sport and his family.”

President Bush, vacationing in Kennebunkport, Me., said he had been a close friend of Giamatti’s for many years and recently talked with him to express his admiration for the high standards Giamatti brought to the Rose case.

“I just want to pay my respects,” Bush said. “He was a great person. He loved the game of baseball and in a short time made a real contribution to the game, standing for the highest possible ethical standards.”

Giamatti had spent two years as National League president before being elected to a five-year term as commissioner in a unanimous vote of the 26 baseball owners Sept. 8, 1988.

He succeeded Peter V. Ueberroth on April 1 of this year. He is the first commissioner to die in office since Judge Kenesaw Mountain Landis, who died Nov. 25, 1944.

Attorney Robert A. Pitcairn Jr., in a statement issued Friday on Rose’s behalf, said that Rose was “deeply saddened” by the news of Giamatti’s death.

“In spite of their dispute, Pete had great personal respect for the commissioner. He extends his deepest sympathy to Commissioner Giamatti’s family.”

Rose, before agreeing to the terms of his suspension, contended that Giamatti had prejudged his case and sought an injunction that would have prevented the commissioner from ruling on it. The long dispute was believed to have created stress for Giamatti, but he denied that in a recent interview.

“While it’s a serious matter, it doesn’t take up that much of my time,” he said. “Most of my time, 80 to 90% of it, is spent on other things. The way it’s been played (by the media) would make you think that I’ve been sitting here all day worrying about it, but that hasn’t been the case for months.”

Baseball’s rules provide for the Executive Council, made up of the two league presidents and eight club owners, to carry out the commissioner’s duties until a successor is chosen. An owners’ meeting, previously scheduled for Milwaukee Sept. 13-14, will now focus on that objective, a spokesman for the commissioner’s office said.

Among those likely to receive consideration, baseball sources said, are American League president Bobby Brown, National League president Bill White, Milwaukee Brewers owner Bud Selig, New York Mets president Frank Cashen, Oakland Athletics vice president Sandy Alderson and deputy commissioner Vincent, whose position was created in a reorganization of the commissioner’s office by Giamatti and whose presence provides the sport with an executive who is familiar with the workings of the office until the Executive Council makes an interim selection.

Vincent, a longtime friend of Giamatti’s, is an attorney who formerly was chairman and chief executive officer of Columbia Pictures Industries Inc., as well as senior vice president of the Coca-Cola Company and president and chief executive officer of Coca-Cola’s entertainment business section. He served as a liaison to Giamatti on the Rose case and heads the commissioner’s corporate, licensing and broadcasting divisions.

Angelo Bartlett Giamatti was born in Boston on April 4, 1938. His father, Valentine, was a literature professor at Mt. Holyoke College and an avid Red Sox fan, Giamatti recalled in an interview.

“I was probably 7 or 8 years old when my father and uncle took me to my first baseball game,” he said. “I’d been listening on the radio often enough, but going to Fenway Park, I just was astonished at the whole thing.”

The memory and the loyalty stayed with him. He often wore a Red Sox cap and carried a transistor to listen to the team’s games while serving as Yale president. He grew up with the romantic’s view that baseball is best played on grass in the afternoon, but he lacked the talent to play it himself and gravitated to literature like his father.

He received a BA degree in English from Yale in 1960 and a Ph.D. in comparative literature in 1964. He taught Italian and comparative literature at Princeton before returning to Yale in 1966. He became a full professor there at 33 and director of the Division of Humanities at 37.

He was elected president of the university in 1978-the youngest in two centuries-and served for nine years, providing Yale with its first balanced budget in a decade and ultimately healing the wounds of his admittedly hard-line stance in the face of a 1984 strike by clerical and technical workers.

“He gave of himself magnificently as a teacher, scholar and leader,” Benno C. Schmidt Jr., Giamatti’s successor at Yale, said Friday. “This university will be a better place because of his service. He will never be forgotten here.”

Giamatti, throughout his academic career, wrote a number of books, essays and articles on Renaissance literature, but he also wrote about baseball, which attracted the attention of the game’s owners and executives. He became the 12th president of the National League on Dec. 11, 1986, and said:
“Dante would have been delighted.”

He added at the time that “people of letters have always gravitated to sport” and that he had long found baseball to be “the most satisfying and nourishing of games-outside of literature, of course.”

When asked what his colleagues at Yale thought about his decision to become a baseball executive, Giamatti laughed and said: “One group thought it was nifty. The other thought it was the ultimate proof of my essential unsoundness.”

“The prism through which I see things is the prism that understands baseball is an enormously important American institution with long and deep roots whose purpose is to provide pleasure and fun for the American people, and whose integrity and authenticity are essential in order to provide that pleasure,” he said in a recent interview.

“The pace of the game allows for rumination even at the moment instead of just in retrospect,” he added. “And it is a game with a history and mythology so intimately connected to America that in some idealized and mythological sense it is virtually synonymous with America.”

With the owners facing difficult negotiations on a new collective bargaining agreement when the 1989 season ends, Giamatti’s style, his grass-roots approach, was seen as a possible healing influence on the labor unrest of the corporate-oriented Ueberroth years. The owners were fined $10.5 million by arbitrator Tom Roberts on Thursday for violating the bargaining agreement by acting in concert to restrict free-agent movement during the winter of 1985-86, one of three collusion grievances filed by the Major League Players Assn. during Ueberroth’s tenure.

“Baseball has been deprived today of the services of its finest commissioner in history,” Ueberroth, vacationing in Paris, said in a statement released through his Newport Beach, Calif., office. “Bart Giamatti encompassed everything that is good and enduring about America’s favorite pastime. For this man of words, courage and deeds . . . no words can express the loss.”

Said New York Yankee owner George Steinbrenner: “We’ve lost a true Renaissance man. Any other commissioner will be pale by comparison. He was brilliant. He was compassionate. He cared for the game and cared for its people.”

On the day that he replaced Ueberroth as commissioner, Giamatti said that his lifelong objective had been to become American League president so that he could receive a pass to Fenway Park. Flags at the fabled Boston stadium flew at half-staff after Giamatti’s death.

The next summer, Claire Smith of the S.F. Chronicle wrote:

Pete Rose, baseball’s career hit leader, was sentenced yesterday to five months in a federal correctional institution for filing false income tax returns.

The sentence, handed down by U.S. District Judge Arthur S. Spiegel, also requires Rose to serve three months in a community treatment center or halfway house, pay a $50,000 fine and serve 1,000 hours of community service. It does not permit parole.

“I accept my punishment,” Rose said in a statement released yesterday. “I will serve my sentence, pay my debt to society and get on with my life.”

The 49-year-old Rose, who left an indelible impression on baseball as much for his cocky demeanor as for his long list of records and achievements, including his record 4,256 hits, appeared visibly shaken even before he learned the result of his having pleaded guilty April 20 to two felony tax charges.

Already banned from baseball because of gambling allegations, he listened, his face flushed, as Spiegel explained to the filled courtroom the reasoning behind his decision.

“We must recognize,” the judge said, “that there are two people here: Pete Rose, the living legend, the all-time hit leader and the idol of millions; and Pete Rose, the individual, who appears today convicted of two counts of cheating on his taxes.

“Today, we are not dealing with the legend. History and the tincture of time will decide his place among the all-time greats of baseball. With regard to Pete Rose, the individual, he has broken the law, admitted his guilt, and stands ready to pay the penalty.”

Given an opportunity to speak before pronouncement of the sentence, the former Cincinnati manager, who played for the Reds and the Philadelphia Phillies, expressed shame over his conviction. Flanked by his legal team, he said: “I would like to say that I am very sorry, very shameful to be here today in front of you.”

His voice quavering, he continued: “I think I’m perceived as a very aggressive, arrogant type of individual. But I want people to know that I do have emotion.

“I do have feelings, and I can be hurt like everybody else. And I hope no one has to go through what I went through the last year and a half. I lost my dignity. I lost my self-respect. I lost a lot of dear fans and almost lost some very dear friends.”

Sounding as if he would break down and cry, Rose continued:

“I have to take this opportunity to thank my wife for giving me so much moral support during this ordeal. It had to be very tough on her when your 5-year-old son would come home from school and tell her his daddy is a jailbird.”

Moments later, Spiegel handed down two five-month sentences, one for each count. The sentences are to run concurrently, without possibility of parole.

Spiegel ordered Rose to continue to receive psychiatric help for what Rose has come to describe as a gambling addiction. Rose must continue the therapy until medical officials deem it no longer necessary.

The judge recommended that Rose serve his five-month sentence at the Ashland, Ky., Federal Correctional Institution Camp, a minimum-security facility. Ashland is about 160 miles southeast of Cincinnati, where Rose was born and raised and played the better part of his 24-year major league career.

The judge gave Rose a stay of the sentence so that he could have surgery on a knee he injured when playing ball at his wife’s family reunion in Indiana last weekend. Rose must report to Ashland by midday August 10, unless the court gives permission for further medical leave.

His tax problems began to surface in early 1989 while baseball investigator John Dowd started looking into Rose’s betting habits. A federal grand jury was convened in Cincinnati to see whether Rose reported all his income.

The investigators determined that Rose failed to report earnings of $345,967.60 from card shows, personal appearances and sale of memorabilia from 1984 to 1987.

On April 20, in an arrangement with the government, Rose pleaded guilty to two felony counts of filing false federal tax returns, in 1985 and 1987. Federal prosecutors agreed not to pursue further charges.

As part of the plea agreement, Rose has paid the government $366,042.86 in additional taxes, interest and penalties.

Published in: Uncategorized on April 26, 2013 at 4:04 pm  Comments (1)  

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  1. This is some good stuff. What a pair of polar opposites. Baseball’s never really had a “real” commissioner since he died. Especially under Selig, the position has been forever compromised.

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