Rod Rosenstein played outfield in the JCC softball league — and other fun facts about the man who got Comey fired

Ben Sales

(JTA) — Mystery solved! Rod Rosenstein, the deputy attorney general who played a central role in James Comey’s firing, used to play center field in a JCC softball league.

Or maybe right field. Or maybe short left. It’s unclear.

What is clear is that the man overseeing the FBI’s investigation into Russian meddling in the Trump campaign used to meddle in his teammates’ at-bats.

On a questionnaire he filled out ahead of his Senate Judiciary Committee hearing this year, Rosenstein wrote that he was a member of a “Jewish Community Center Sports League” from 1993 to 2012. Now, in a series of emails to JTA, a former teammate has shed light on Rosenstein’s JCC softball career.

Rosenstein played in a Sunday softball league based out of the JCC in Rockville, Md., a suburb of Washington, D.C. The team was made up mostly of lawyers, and made the finals once — only to lose badly.

The teammate, who wishes to remain anonymous, called Rosenstein a good ballplayer, a good guy — and anything but a fan of President Donald Trump. Here are five of the teammate’s best memories.

He came late, ate a banana, and was ready to play.

Rosenstein, who served as a U.S. attorney before ascending to his current post, gained a reputation as a hard worker. He would also fit in a Sunday bicycle ride with his kids. So it may have been tough for him to get to the softball diamond on time. But when he did, he always brought a snack, his teammate wrote:

Rod was almost always late and you would always hear people saying, “Where’s Rod? Is he coming today?” We definitely wanted him at play. And while Rod was liked by everyone, a few people did comment that it was slightly annoying that he would show up a bit late, finish the banana he was always eating, and then start pounding his glove, which was his way of saying to the captain that he wanted to be put into play, like, immediately.

He shouted advice while his friends were at the plate.

Rosenstein, the teammate wrote, played to win. So when the teammate was at bat, Rosenstein did his best to encourage the best swing — or, often, no swing at all:

And because I was such a bad catcher and thrower, Rod tended to assume (incorrectly), that I could not hit the ball worth beans, either. So I’d be at bat and he’d be saying repeatedly, “Wait for your pitch … Wait for your pitch.” I never told him to please knock that off, as it was distracting me and making me nervous. What he was really saying is that I should not attempt to hit the ball at all. As Rod thought my best chance of getting on base was a walk.

He hated on-field drama.

Rosenstein has a reputation of being a by-the-book attorney — something which his teammate says extended to his softball play. Rosenstein never got upset at the other team, and never thought too much of himself.

I do remember the captain getting into a short shouting match one time with another captain. I do not think I heard profanity. And I am quite sure no blows were thrown. But even that was enough for Rod to say, “This is very disappointing. I am very surprised by this.” …

When he wasn’t playing or telling anyone else how to play, he was very unassuming. He talked to everybody, especially if you were new, and he would never lead the conversation into, “What do you do?” I often heard him saying, “Where do you live? I live in Bethesda.” If asked, he would just say he was an attorney.

He valued honesty — even when it meant scolding his kids …

Rosenstein’s team was a stickler for fair play, an attitude the teammate said Rosenstein liked. And Rosenstein didn’t abide by cutting corners even when it came to his own family:

He has integrity. To a fault. One time he brought his daughters. They were selling lemonade. My then-fiancée asked how much it was and they said, “A DOLLAR.” Rod heard that, and pulled himself out of play to have a talk with them. “We said .25. Not a dollar. When we have an agreement, you need to keep it.”

Which is why, according to the teammate, “it won’t bother him one iota” if Trump is forced out of office.

Since Comey’s firing, Rosenstein has received flak from Trump’s critics, calling him a stooge for the president and questioning his ethics. They point to the 1,000-word memo Rosenstein wrote outlining the reasoning for Comey’s dismissal.

But the teammate says that’s hogwash, writing that although Rosenstein is a Republican, if anyone would be happy to see Trump charged with a crime, it would be him.

I would bet a paycheck that Trump is the one Republican for which Rod did not vote. Rod cannot stand rudeness. I can’t imagine that he could stomach all of those insults towards so many people. I do not believe Rod cast a vote for POTUS in the general election.

If there’s any evidence to be found, Rod will find it. And it won’t bother him one iota to have Trump dragged out of the WH in handcuffs.