Alumnus gives baseball's historic 'Dowd Report' to Emory Law

By Lisa Ashmore | May 5, 2015

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Elaine Justice
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Attorney John M. Dowd 65L. Photo by Emory Law

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Emory Law alumnus John Dowd, class of 1965, has given Emory University School of Law the "Dowd Report," a 225-page reckoning that ended Pete Rose's baseball career in 1989 by proving the Reds player-manager had gambled on his own team.

Dowd's signed copy of the report is accompanied by nine volumes of supporting exhibits and another four volumes of court filings from Rose's lawsuit against Commissioner A. Bartlett Giamatti. It is one of a few copies that were bound for those close to the Rose investigation, including the investigators and the late commissioner. It will be housed in Hugh F. MacMillan Law Library, and an exhibit will run from July 1-30.

John Dowd served as special counsel to three baseball commissioners. Over three months in 1989, he and two investigators interviewed 110 witnesses, and sifted through checks, bank statements, phone records and hand-written betting slips to put together the case, which has withstood 26 years of scrutiny.

"I have a great affection for the law school," Dowd says of the gift. "This day and age, you could go online and look at it— which hundreds of thousands of people have done—but I just thought it'd be a nice place to lodge it. People could look at it if they want to."

The Rose case made national headlines for months, culminating with Giamatti's televised Aug. 24, 1989, announcement that Rose had signed an agreement accepting permanent ineligibility (with a provision that he could apply for reinstatement). Violation of Rule 21 (d)(2) is considered baseball's cardinal sin. It's the result of The 1919 Chicago "Black Sox" cheating scandal where the Sox threw the World Series, which led team owners to appoint the game's first commissioner in 1920.

A copy of the rule is posted in every MLB clubhouse: "Any player, umpire, or club or league official or employee, who shall bet any sum whatsoever upon any baseball game in connection with which the bettor has a duty to perform shall be declared permanently ineligible."

Dowd says the Rose case still serves as a warning.

"Next to the Black Sox scandal, I would say that Pete Rose being thrown out of the game is just as significant to remind people that the game must be played with integrity," he says. Dowd's gift entered the law library's rare books collection about the same time news broke that Rose was again appealing his ineligibility.

For nearly 15 years following his exile from the game, Rose continually denied he gambled on baseball. Then in his 2004 autobiography, Rose did an about-face and said he bet on the Reds, but never against them. Soon after the book's release, he appealed for reinstatement again.

Dowd says beyond the passage of 26 years, nothing's changed to warrant Rose being welcomed back to baseball.

"The issue is the integrity of the game. When someone places their financial interests ahead of the team, then they compromise the game," Dowd says. "To me, it's a very simple, smart, wise rule."