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The second and concluding volume in Burk's business history of baseball covers the seismic changes that have affected the game, from the tenure of judge Landis through modern issues that continue to cause confrontation between ownership and the players. (USA Today Baseball Weekly)
In these days of escalating salaries and costs and the friction that exists between players and management, this book provides scholarly background. Libraries featuring comprehensive sports and/or labor relations collections should consider. (Library Journal)
Burk has given us a penetrating and savvy history of baseball's turbulent labor relations. (Andrew Zimbalist, Smith College)
As he chronicles the history of baseball's labor movement . . . Burk focuses on the major people . . . a focus that significantly animates his heavily detailed narrative. (Publishers Weekly)
Although we prefer to see baseball as a game we play or watch for recreation, from almost the beginning it has been a labor-intensive industry whose on-field personnel constitute both the entertainment product we enjoy and men engaged in doing their job. At the very heart of this labor-intensive business has been the struggle between on-field employees and management over access to its opportunities, workplace rights, and overarching both of these, administering the industry and defining the relationship—paternalistic, adversarial, or cooperative—between the two sides. This history can be divided into three main eras. The first—examined in my previous volume, Never Just a Game: Players, Owners, and American Baseball to 1920—is most accurately viewed as the "trade war era" and lasted from the formation of intercity cartels, most notably the National League, in the 1870s through World War I. The two subsequent periods—the subject of this study—stretched from the 1920s to the 1960s and from the 1960s to the present day and can be described as the "paternalistic" and "inflationary" eras (see Appendix, Fig. 1). Although each era featured the general issues mentioned above, the answers reached and the labor relationship forged differed in significant ways.
industry, the search also led to efforts to standardize playing rules to strike the most profitable balance between player productivity, fan attendance, and labor-cost pressures. It also led to the dominant cartel developing working agreements with lesser leagues to secure an ongoing source of white playing talent, while systematically excluding in Jim Crow fashion baseball aspirants of color.
the demographic shift to the Sun Belt. As a consequence, baseball late in the era reluctantly reversed itself and began to integrate racially its playing ranks, and it also grudgingly adopted a system of player representation, a pension plan, and a minimum wage for its big league performers. Although the era began with the quarter-century commissionership of Kenesaw Landis, the individual most representative of the entire period and its series of labor policy adjustments was not Landis but Branch Rickey—champion of the farm system, the first big league executive to proceed with integration, and a pioneer late in the era in the scouting and recruitment of Latin American playing talent.
decades, by the late 1990s the two sides had battled themselves nearly to exhaustion and had risked killing the "golden goose" that had laid so many mutually profitable "eggs." As a new century loomed, baseball management and labor nervously eyed each other and wondered whether the millennium would bring a new round of combat or the start of a brighter era of enlightened partnership and global expansion.