Legal Bases: Baseball And The Law

Legal Bases: Baseball And The Law

by Roger Abrams
     
 

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Baseball is at the heart of our history, identity, and culture, its principles regularly echoed in American rhetoric. But baseball is more than a game; it is a complex business held together and often transformed by the legal process. In 1876 William Hulbert employed the law to bring club owners together to form the National League. Ninety years later Marvin Miller

Overview

Baseball is at the heart of our history, identity, and culture, its principles regularly echoed in American rhetoric. But baseball is more than a game; it is a complex business held together and often transformed by the legal process. In 1876 William Hulbert employed the law to bring club owners together to form the National League. Ninety years later Marvin Miller used the law to change a management-funded fraternity of ballplayers into the strongest trade union in the country.

The relationship between baseball and the law continues to influence the ever-evolving nature of the game. In Legal Bases, Roger I. Abrams has assembled an all-star lineup of stories that combines trenchant analysis of legal controversies with delightful anecdotes about both legendary cases and lesser-known tales of key players in the legal web of baseball history.

The lore begins with Monte Ward, a Hall-of-Famer and Columbia Law School graduate who organized the first baseball union. The Major League Players Association emerges as a powerful opposition to the club owners. In the 1990s, baseball is almost destroyed by a labor strike until a federal judge steps into the fray.

Along the way, Abrams presents an expert discourse on a range of related issues, such as baseball's antitrust exemption, free agency, and collective bargaining. Taking his examination further, Abrams also speculates on closely linked issues like intellectual property, eminent domain, and gender equity. Appearances by a host of minor characters, including baseball magnate Albert Spaulding, New York Knickerbocker Alexander Joy Cartwright, and Acting Commissioner Bud Selig enrich this history of baseball and the legal system.

Editorial Reviews

Allen D. Boyer
Wearing lightly his notable learning, Abrams writes with verve and intelligence. -- New York Times Book Review
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
As much as the purist might insist that the game itself is the thing, not the salaries, contracts and cost overruns on new stadiums, a rounded knowledge of the game is incomplete without considering baseball as a business. As dean of Rutgers Law School, baseball salary arbitrator and sincere grassroots fan, few have Abrams' qualifications for writing on baseball and the law. The book is organized around nine men and one woman who played pivotal roles in its history. They constitute our 'All-Star Baseball Law Team.' The 'team' (apparently the 10th player is justified by the designated hitter rule) is chosen to illustrate important principles of baseball and law dating from the 19th century (John Montgomery Ward) through the reserve clause challenge (Curt Flood) to baseball's crimes (Pete Rose). Abrams claims that the importance of Judge Kenesaw Mountain Landis was too great to fit in just a chapter, but many readers will still wish for more on the man who shaped the business of baseball more than any other single individual. The book focuses almost entirely on the U.S. majors, though it would have been interesting to see more on international baseball or the minor leagues (e.g., on the recent Professional Baseball Agreement that dictates relations between minor and major league baseball or on minor league umpire Pam Postema). The writing is a bit dry and overly detailed, but the book will serve as a valuable reference for the ardent baseball student.
Library Journal
Abrams, Dean of Rutgers Law School and a major league baseball salary arbitrator, has written a scholarly study of a topic that seems so appropriate for our times, baseball litigation. Key people and historic incidents are highlighted in each chapter, including Curt Flood's fight against the reserve system, Marvin Miller and collective bargaining, the baseball strike of 1994-95, and more.
Booknews
Illuminates the sometimes uproarious, sometimes ignominious relationship between law and baseball, looking at key personalities and concepts behind baseball's antitrust exemption, collective bargaining, and labor arbitration, and discussing drug use and gambling, enforcement of contracts, and the rights of owners and managers. Speculates on the implications of the 1996 collective bargaining agreement, and ponders emerging issues such as intellectual property, eminent domain, and gender equity. Annotation c. by Book News, Inc., Portland, Or.
Kirkus Reviews
A prominent sports-law professor (Rutgers University) and baseball-salary arbitrator explains the obvious and not-so-obvious reasons why baseball players and team owners seem to spend more time arguing before judges than before field umpires. Abrams asserts that 'if baseball is the heart of America, the legal process provides the sinews that hold it in place.' Coming from a sports-law practitioner and educator, such a pronouncement might seem both simplistic and self-serving. However, going over the game's history, from its inception in the mid-19th century to the present, Abrams convincingly illustrates why the business of baseball has supplanted the game itself in the American limelight. To explain the relationship between law and baseball, the author focuses on nine men and one woman who had pivotal roles in the game's history—a group of players, owners, and litigators Abrams calls the 'All-Star Baseball Law Team.' Using these individuals' actions and related events, he discusses several major themes: John Montgomery Ward's clashes with National League team owners over the formation of a players' union at the end of the 19th century; the Curt Flood case against baseball's reserve clause and its exemption from federal anti-trust regulations in the 1970s; Pete Rose and the issues of jurisdiction; baseball executives' struggles with the commissioner's office over a vague yet binding mandate to act on behalf of 'the best interests of baseball.' Abrams is astute and unflinching in his judgments, yet shows admirable balance (although he doesn't shy away from depicting how management's arrogance and inability to organize in any but a collusive manner has contributed to their poorpublic image and unsuccessful litigative record). Also, he obligingly explains many terms often used but seldom understood (in relation to baseball), and makes clear many subtle distinctions, such as that between arbitration and mediation. Interesting and illustrative, this is a book every thinking sports fan should read.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781566398909
Publisher:
Temple University Press
Publication date:
03/28/2001
Edition description:
1
Pages:
240
Sales rank:
816,587
Product dimensions:
6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.60(d)

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