If baseball is the heart of America, the legal process provides the sinews that hold it in place. It was the legal process that allowed William Hulbert to bring club owners together in a New York City hotel room in 1876 to form the National League, and ninety years later, it allowed Marvin Miller to change a management-funded fraternity of ballplayers into the strongest trade union in America.
But how does collective bargaining and labor arbitration work in the major leagues? Why is baseball exempt from the antitrust laws? In Legal Bases, Roger Abrams has assembled an all-star baseball law team whose stories illuminate the sometimes uproarious, sometimes ignominious relationship between law and baseball that has made the business of baseball a truly American institution.
Roger I. Abrams is a major league baseball salary arbitrator who has arbitrated such cases as those involving Ron Darling and Brett Butler. He is also Dean and Richardson Professor of Law at Northeastern University School of Law and has taught and written in the field of sports law for more than a decade. He is the author of The Money Pitch, also published by Temple University Press.
Preface Introduction 1. The Legal Process at the Birth of Baseball: John Montgomery "Monte" Ward 2. The Enforcement of Contracts: Napoleon "Nap" Lajoie 3. Baseball's Antitrust Exemption: Curt Flood 4. Collective Bargaining: Marvin Miller 5. The Owners and the Commissioner: Branch Rickey and Charles O. Finley 6. Labor Arbitration and the End of the Reserve System: Andy Messersmith 7. The Collusion Cases: Carlton Fisk 8. The Crimes of Baseball: Pete Rose 9. Baseball's Labor Wars of the 1990s: Sonia Sotomayor Conclusion Notes Bibliography Index
"Learning the story of baseball is akin to studying the Bible: one can spend years, indeed a lifetime, and make barely a dent in the seemingly boundless array of literature on the subject.... In any case, Legal Bases: Baseball and the Law is a good starting point for one's quest to know more about how baseball came to its current condition, whatever one perceives that condition to be."
-Michigan Law Review "Legal Bases presents readers with a vibrant example of why and how collective bargaining occurs, and the involved legal processes. But there is more. The book also gives baseball enthusiasts a coherent understanding of the history and role of major league collective bargaining in an appealing format. It may even provide readers who are not baseball fans with a reason to take an interest in the game."
-Monthly Labor Review "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). ...the book will serve as a valuable reference for the ardent baseball student."
-Publishers Weekly "Fans usually intimidated by legalese but interested in the complex web of the baseball business should welcome this accessible primer. Abrams succeeds in presenting in a lucid and entertaining fashion the legal challenges to baseball's reserve clause, arbitration system, ownership collusion and the commissioner's powers."
-The Washington Post "Abrams is astute and unflinching in his judgments, yet shows admirable balance...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."
-Kirkus Reviews "The book reflects its author's experience as a baseball salary arbitrator, balancing anecdotes with antitrust analysis and overviews of the collective bargaining process. Wearing lightly his notable learning, Abrams writes with verve and intelligence."
-The New York Times Book Review "Dean Abrams has been teaching both sports law and labor law for many years. He is the co-author of a major scholarly treatment of labor arbitration. Abrams is also the kind of writer who can relate personal anecdotes in a conversational style that brings the technical issues in sports labor law alive for the lay reader who wants to understand what lies behind the controversies that occupy so much of the sports pages in the media.... there will be a significant market for this book, not only among students in law schools, business schools, and other institutions where the subject is taught, but also among the more sophisticated baseball fans."
-Paul Weiler, Harvard Law School