Bart Giamatti’s son, others weigh in on Pete Rose suspension after 25 years

Recently, we sp0ke with John Dowd, the Fairfax County lawyer whose 1989 investigation resulted in Pete Rose’s ban from baseball and the Hall of Fame. Dowd opposes Rose’s reinstatement, for reasons detailed here. But the discussion about bringing Rose back after 25 years, sparked by Sports Illustrated’s new book and cover story on Rose, continues to heat up.

Actor Marcus Giamatti, the son of late baseball commissioner Bartlett Giamatti, believes his father would stand for the continued suspension of Pete Rose from baseball, even after 25 years. (Courtesy Marcus Giamatti)
Actor Marcus Giamatti, a son of late baseball commissioner Bartlett Giamatti, believes his father would stand for the continued suspension of Pete Rose from baseball, even after 25 years. (Courtesy Marcus Giamatti)

After Dowd weighed in, I heard from Marcus Giamatti,  the actor and son of Bart Giamatti. Bart Giamatti, the new baseball commissioner in 1989, imposed the ban on Rose and then suddenly died eight days later. Giamatti wrote a piece for baseball’s Opening Day about both his father and Rose, stating his firm belief that his father would support Rose’s continuing suspension from the game. That article is here.

I asked Marcus Giamatti, a former star of the TV show “Judging Amy” and brother of actor Paul Giamatti, why he wrote the piece. He said it “seemed necessary,” not only to honor his father on the 25th anniversary of his death, but also “to serve as a reminder, as the Pete Rose debate has recently reared its head, of the values and principles for which my father stood. Those of fair play and good citizenry. It also seemed necessary to set the record straight about what my father would have said if he were alive today about this ongoing emotional American argument concerning the banishment of Pete Rose from Major League Baseball.”

At the same time Giamatti was publishing his view, author James Reston Jr. was weighing in from the other side. Reston wrote a book in 1991 about the Rose-Bart Giamatti clash, but now says he’s changed his mind: Rose should be allowed back into baseball, and into the Hall of Fame. He said the steroid offenders of the 1990s committed worse crimes, and that Rose has suffered enough. His piece in USA Today is here. Marcus Giamatti is working on a response to that, which he hopes will also appear in USA Today.

And finally, the Cincinnati Enquirer spoke to the rarely interviewed Paul Janszen. Janszen was Rose’s friend while he was betting on baseball and everything else in the mid-1980s. He loaned Rose $44,000 at one point, his life savings, to cover Rose’s gambling debts. Rose repaid only $10,000. When investigators came to Janszen in 1989, he had several of Rose’s handwritten betting sheets, showing he’d wagered on the Reds, the team he was managing. It was a crucial piece of evidence for Dowd. Janszen read the Sports Illustrated book excerpt, then came forward to say that he doubts that Rose is sincerely remorseful, but didn’t weigh in on Rose’s reinstatement. Living in Cincinnati and taking down the hometown hero Pete Rose was hard, and Janszen thanked Dowd for standing by him. The Enquirer’s piece is here.

Tom Jackman is a native of Northern Virginia and has been covering the region for The Post since 1998.
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