Baseball and the law: a selected annotated law Libr

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97 Law Libr. J. 335

Law Library Journal

Spring, 2005

General Article


Amy Beckham Osborneaa1

Copyright © 2005 by the American Association of Law Libraries; Amy Beckham Osborne


LIB -- Library Management & Resources

Ms. Osborne presents an annotated bibliography covering books and articles that is designed to assist the researcher in finding current information on the law and its implications for the game of baseball.

Baseball was made for kids, and grown-ups only screw it up.”

Bob Lemon, Hall of Fame Pitcher1





¶1 From the appointment of a federal district court judge, Kennesaw Mountain Landis, as the first commissioner of baseball to the intermittent threats of players’ strikes beginning in the 1970s, the law has been inextricably linked with baseball. For any scholar interested in the full story of our national pastime, the law plays a vital role. From the Chicago grand jury’s involvement in the Black Sox scandal of 1919 to Curt Flood’s legal challenge of baseball’s reserve clause, the law, whether for better or worse, has done much to shape the game.


¶2 This bibliography is designed to assist the researcher in finding current information on the law and its implications for the game of baseball. It includes only books and articles published between 1990 and 2004. Not included are articles found in American Law Reports or books and articles that do not deal primarily with the legal aspects of the game.



Abrams, Roger I. Legal Bases: Baseball and the Law. Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1998.

Developing an all-star baseball law team, Abrams presents what he believes to be the nine most important issues regarding baseball and the law. Each chapter covers one of the issues and the person who is most linked to that topic. Beginning with Columbia-trained lawyer and professional baseball player John Montgomery “Monte” Ward, Abrams looks at the origins of organized baseball *336 and Ward’s organization of the first players’ union. In the succeeding chapters, he provides insight into such other issues as collective bargaining and baseball crimes, closing with baseball’s labor problems in the 1990s.



Abrams, Roger I. The Money Pitch: Baseball Free Agency and Salary Arbitration. Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 2000.

This is an insightful look at the role that money has played and continues to play in major league baseball. Abrams provides a historical perspective by looking at the shrewd salary negotiations of Ty Cobb in the era before salary arbitration. He also discusses the economics of the game and the role that player performance and geography can play with regard to player salaries. Of particular interest are two separate chapters dedicated to free agency and salary arbitration.



Duquette, Jerold J. Regulating the National Pastime: Baseball and Antitrust. Westport, Conn.: Praeger Publishers, 1999.

For baseball fans, the summer of 1994 will forever be remembered, not because of record-breaking home runs or perfect games pitched, but rather the work stoppage that ultimately led to the cancellation of the World Series. Duquette provides an in-depth look at baseball’s exemption from federal antitrust law, offering a comprehensive study of the topic. Looking at this problem in a historical context, Duquette covers baseball from the progressivism of the late 1800s to the work stoppage of the 1990s.



Edmonds, Edmund P., and William H. Manz. Baseball and Antitrust: The Legislative History of the Curt Flood Act of 1998, Public Law No. 105-297, 112 Stat. 2824. Buffalo, N.Y.: William S. Hein & Co., 2001.

For students of baseball and the ramifications of law on the game, the Curt Flood Act of 19982 is one of the most important pieces of legislation passed by Congress. In this three-volume set, Edmonds and Manz have put together the definitive work with regard to the legislative history of this Act.



Helyar, John. Lords of the Realm: The Real History of Baseball. New York: Villard Books, 1994.

As a reporter with the Wall Street Journal, Helyar was assigned to cover the business of sports. This book is the product of those articles, and the content is primarily based on interviews with hundreds of people involved in the business of baseball. Helyar covers baseball from its beginnings as a game to the current state of affairs, explaining along the way how business has shaped the sport into the game we know today.



Jennings, Kenneth M. Swings and Misses: Moribund Labor Relations in Professional Baseball. Westport, Conn.: Praeger Publishers, 1997.

Jennings has written an interesting book covering a wide variety of subjects relating to baseball and labor relations. Most chapters focus on specific instances of labor unrest and how they affected the game. Jennings looks at the economic concerns of owners affecting negotiations from 1993 to 1996, collective bargaining after the World Series cancellation in 1994, and other labor issues of the *337 1990s. Also included is a helpful table of the chronology of events in baseball’s labor relations activities from 1992 to 1997.



Koor, Charles P. The End of Baseball As We Knew It: The Players Union, 1960-81. Urbana, Ill.: University of Illinois Press, 2002.

Koor looks at the legal and business decisions during the pivotal era of 1960-81 which changed baseball and shaped it into the game that is played today. Focusing on the rise in power of the players’ union, a chapter is also devoted to the historic Curt Flood decision.3 Of note to those interested in the business of professional sports in the modern era is a discussion of the parallels between the Major League Baseball Players Association and the Professional Footballers Association in England.



Marburger, Daniel, ed. Stee-Rike Four! What’s Wrong with the Business of Baseball? Westport, Conn.: Praeger Publishers, 1997.

Written by a group of economists, this book is the outcome of a 1991 conference on the economics of baseball held at Middlebury College. The book is divided into five parts, each dealing with issues that have not only economic consequences on the game of baseball, but legal consequences as well. These topics include collective bargaining, free agency, and antitrust. Several interesting statistical tables covering a wide variety of subjects are included.



Miller, Marvin. A Whole Different Ball Game: The Sport and Business of Baseball. Secaucus, N.J.: Birch Lane Press, 1991.

Looking at the business side of baseball also involves looking at the legal side of the game. In this book, Miller, who served as executive director of the Major League Baseball Players Association from 1966 to 1982, examines the labor conflicts in major league baseball and the formation of the players’ union. No book on baseball law and business is complete without addressing the issue of Curt Flood, and Miller devotes an entire chapter to Flood’s challenge of baseball’s reserve clause. Miller also discusses the various strikes that have occurred in the game as well as the lockout of 1990.



McKelvey, Richard G. For It’s One, Two, Three, Four Strikes You’re Out at the Owners’ Ball Game. Jefferson, N.C.: McFarland & Co, 2001.

No word causes more fear in the heart of a baseball fan than strike. This brief volume focuses on labor and management problems within the game of baseball. Pointing out that labor/management problems in baseball can be traced back as far back as the 1900s, not just the late 1960s as most people believe, McKelvey provides helpful background information on the labor problems within the game. With overviews of the strikes of 1981 and 1985, and a chapter devoted to collusion decisions and a lockout, this is an informative and useful addition to the body of work covering labor problems within the national pastime.



Pietrusza, David. Judge and Jury: The Life and Times of Kennesaw Mountain Landis. South Bend, Ind.: Diamond Communications, 1998.

As the first commissioner of Major League Baseball, Judge Kennesaw Mountain Landis holds an important place in both baseball’s history and its link to the law. *338 Pietrusza has written an interesting book about an interesting man. Going beyond previous works written about Landis, this book looks at the events throughout his life that shaped him, from his birth in Millville, Ohio, to the years he served on the federal bench.



Staudohar, Paul D., ed. Diamond Mines: Baseball and Labor. Syracuse, N.Y.: Syracuse University Press, 2000.

Held each year in June, the Cooperstown Symposium on Baseball and American Culture provides an opportunity for scholars in a variety of fields to come together to share their research and work about baseball. This book is a collection of essays selected from papers delivered at various meetings of this symposium. The subjects covered range from collective bargaining to the baseball strike of 1994-95. Of particular note to the legal researcher is the essay by William W. Wright and Mick Cochrane titled “Baseball’s Antitrust Exemption: While the Lawyers Warmed Up in the Bullpen, the Game was Called Due to the Reign of Compromise.”



Waller, Spencer Weber, Neil B. Cohen, and Paul Finkelman, eds. Baseball and the American Legal Mind. New York: Garland Pub., 1995.

This collection of articles, essays, cases, and testimony deals not only with the legal issues related to baseball, but also the nexus of baseball and legal thought. With the inclusion of the infamous law journal article, “A Comment on the Common Law Origins of the Infield Fly Rule,”4 part 1 attempts to show the parallels between baseball rules and the development of the rules of law. Other parts cover baseball and antitrust law, labor law, intellectual property, and torts. Specific items include Casey Stengel’s hilarious 1958 testimony before the Subcommittee on Antitrust and Monopoly of the Senate Judiciary Committee, articles on labor and organized baseball, and a book review titled “When Lawyers Slept: The Unmaking of the Brooklyn Dodgers.”5 This collection poignantly ends with Chicago National League Ball Club, Inc. v. Thompson,6 the case that led to night baseball at Wrigley Field.



Ward, Ettie, ed. Courting the Yankees: Legal Essays on the Bronx Bombers. Durham, N.C.: Carolina Academic Press, 2003.

Ward has compiled a work that is both interesting and entertaining. This volume is a collection of works by legal scholars that covers a wide spectrum of legal topics relating to baseball, with a particular focus on the New York Yankees. Beginning with chapter 1, “Joe Dimaggio (and His Lawyer),” this book looks at the enormous role that the law has had in shaping America’s pastime. While it is not necessary for the reader to be a student of the law to enjoy this book, anyone with a love of baseball will enjoy reading about both the famous players and the pivotal incidents that have seen the law and baseball intersect. From the pine tar incident involving George Brett to chapters on Yogi Berra and Micky Mantle, this book is a must read for anyone interested in baseball and the law.



*339 Weiler, Paul C. Leveling the Playing Field: How Law Can Make Sports Better for Fans. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 2000.

Harvard law professor Paul C. Weiler presents an in-depth view of what can be done to make all professional sports better for the millions of fans who follow the NFL, NBA, NHL, and MLB. While this book does not specifically focus on Major League Baseball,7 several chapters deal extensively with issues that are intrinsic to the game. Among these is chapter 9, “Opening the Flood-Gates,” which presents a history and explanation of baseball’s antitrust exemption and the legal battle that eventually led to the passage of the Curt Flood Act.8 Additionally, Weiler addresses baseball-related issues such as civil rights (Jackie Robinson), drugs in sports (Steve Howe), and gambling (Pete Rose and the Black Sox Scandal).



Zimbalist, Andrew S. Baseball and Billions: A Probing Look Inside the Big Business of Our National Pastime. New York: Basic Books, 1994.

While dealing primarily with the business side of baseball, this book inevitably considers various issues of importance to the legal aspects of the game as well. Economist Zimbalist begins by addressing Monte Ward’s role in the organization of the Brotherhood of Professional Baseball Players. He then goes on to address franchise finances, player salaries, and the future of baseball. He includes many statistical tables covering a wide variety of topics including hitters’ salaries and major league baseball expansions.





Abrams, Roger I. “Before the Flood: The History of Baseball’s Antitrust Exemption.” Marquette Sports Law Journal 9 (1999): 307-13.

This is an excellent article on baseball’s antitrust exemption. Abrams discusses the 1914 and 1915 seasons, and actions by Major League Baseball owners to stop players from transferring to the Federal League. Also discussed is Marvin Miller and the development of the players’ union.



Abramson, Dan. “Baseball and the Court.” Constitution 4 (Fall 1991): 68-75.

Abramson provides a historical look at baseball’s antitrust exemption, reviewing events in the 1880s that led to the exemption, including a ploy headed by William Hubert in 1879 to give club owners control of their players.



Bautista, Phillip R. “Congress Says ‘Yooou’re Out!!!’ To the Antitrust Exemption of Professional Baseball: A Discussion of the Current State of Player-Owner *340 Collective Bargaining and the Impact of the Curt Flood Act of 1998.” Ohio State Journal on Dispute Resolution 15 (2000): 445-82.

Bautista takes an in-depth look at collective bargaining in baseball including both its evolution and its current state. He discusses the impact of the Curt Flood Act9 on the collective bargaining process.



Borteck, Andrew. “The Faux Fix: Why a Repeal of Major League Baseball’s Antitrust Exemption Would Not Solve Its Severe Competitive Balance Problems.” Cardozo Law Review 25 (2004): 1069-1109.

Borteck presents an interesting look at antitrust and the scope of Major League Baseball’s current exemptions. Additionally, he addresses baseball’s competitive imbalance and the role antitrust plays in it.



Brand, Stanley M. “The Case for the Minor League Baseball Antitrust Exemption.” Antitrust 14 (Spring 2000): 31-32.

When Congress passed legislation in 1998 affecting Major League Baseball’s antitrust status, it left in place Minor League Baseball’s antitrust exemption. This article looks at the way Congress passed this legislation and how this became a classic study in antitrust policy making.



Brand, Stanley M., and Andrew J. Giorgione. “The Effect of Baseball’s Antitrust Exemption and Contraction on Its Minor League System: A Case Study of the Harrisburg Senators.” Villanova Sports & Entertainment Law Journal 10 (2003): 49-68.

An interesting study of the impact of Major League Baseball’s antitrust exemption on minor league teams. The article looks at the effect of contraction when coupled with the antitrust exemption and how the repeal of the exemption could lead to the elimination of minor league teams.



Burns, Charles Matthew. “The Scope of Major League Baseball’s Antitrust Exemption.” Stetson Law Review 24 (1995): 495-536.

This note discusses the historical development of baseball’s antitrust exemption in the U.S. Supreme Court and examines how the exemption has been transformed due to lower federal and state courts and the differing interpretations of the exemption by these courts.



Butterman, Alexander H. “Baseball’s Antitrust Exemption and an Owner-Imposed Salary Cap: Can They Coexist?” Entertainment and Sports Lawyer 12 (Fall 1994): 2-3.

This article looks at baseball’s exemption in the context of the game’s financial problems. Butterman speculates about the possibility of salary caps in baseball.



Cackowski, Alison. “Congress Drops the Ball Again: Baseball’s Antitrust Exemption Remains in Place.” DePaul-LCA Journal of Art and Entertainment Law 5 (1994/1995): 147-55.

*341 An in-depth look at the effect of the antitrust exemption on Major League Baseball. This article focuses on the 1972 Flood v. Kuhn10 case as well as the other major cases that have considered antitrust and baseball.



Dellapenna, Joseph W. “The Phoenix Phillies v. The Philadelphia Phillies: A Recently Discovered Opinion on ‘Baseball’ and the ‘Antitrust’ Exemption.” Villanova Sports & Entertainment Law Journal 5 (1998): 233-57.

Written in the form of a court opinion (purportedly “unearthed” by the author), this article discusses the issue of antitrust in baseball. At issue in the “case” is whether baseball franchises that generate large amounts of money should be subject to the same antitrust regulations that govern traditional businesses.



Dodge, John C. “The Baseball Monopoly as Public Utility: Is it Time for Regulation.” Entertainment and Sports Lawyer 13 (Spring 1995): 3-6.

While baseball is not a necessary commodity such as energy or water, this article suggests that baseball follow a public utility model with regard to regulation. Beginning with a brief history of the game, Dodge addresses what could be done to solve many of baseball’s problems by enacting private regulation following a public utility commission model.



Dodge, John. “Regulating the Baseball Monopoly: One Suggestion for Governing the Game.” Seton Hall Journal of Sport Law 5 (1995): 35-67.

Each year as spring training commences, baseball fans everywhere eagerly await baseball’s opening day. Opening day also brings to the public eye the many problems facing the business of baseball. This article addresses baseball’s immunity from federal antitrust laws, with the author suggesting that baseball’s management reinstate the Major League Baseball Commission.



Edmonds, Edmund P. “The Curt Flood Act of 1998: A Hollow Gesture After All These Years?” Marquette Sports Law Journal 9 (1999): 315-46.

This article looks at Curt Flood’s courageous stand challenging baseball’s reserve clause. Edmonds outlines the 1998 Curt Flood Act11 as well as decisions that have limited baseball’s antitrust exemption. Additionally, he discusses congressional commentary and nonstatutory labor exemptions.



Edmonds, Edmund P. “Over Forty Years in the On-Deck Circle: Congress and the Baseball Antitrust Exemptions.” Thurgood Marshall Law Review 19 (1994): 627-61.

In this article, Edmonds looks at the trilogy of Supreme Court cases that established Major League Baseball’s exemption from federal antitrust laws. Additionally, he discusses actions by the United States Congress to address the exemption.



George, William D., and Sidney S. Liebesman. “Baseball’s Antitrust Brief: Petitioner’s Brief.” Villanova Sports & Entertainment Law Forum 2 (1995): 167-88.

This is the text of the petitioner’s brief from the Reimel Competition, an intraschool competition held at Villanova University School of Law to foster written

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