Fall 2009

Volume 38, Issue 2.

  • A Crank on the Court: The Passion of Justice William R. Day By Ross E. Davies

    William Howard Taft was a baseball fan, but he was neither the first nor the most fanatical on the Supreme Court that decided the Federal Baseball antitrust case — not by a long shot.

  • Alito: The Origin of the Baseball Antitrust Exemption By Samuel A. Alito Jr.

    Of all the Supreme Court’s antitrust cases, the Federal Baseball Club decision of 1922 may well be the most widely known, but what most people know about the case is not quite accurate. The case is generally known as having held that baseball has an “antitrust exemption.” Critics of the decision—and they are legion—sometimes suggest that the decision was attributable to the justices' affection and/or ignorance of professional baseball. In truth, Justice Holmes’s unanimous opinion for the Court represented a fairly orthodox application of then-prevalent constitutional doctrine.

  • Comiskey's Detectives By Gene Carney

    Among the collection of Black Sox scandal documents made available by the Chicago History Museum in 2007 are the reports from the detectives whom Charles Comiskey hired to investigate the accused White Sox players following the 1919 World Series. The reports, twenty-eight in all, have probably not been seen for nearly ninety years, and they have never before been made public. In this article are the stories they contain.

  • A Tall Tale of "The Brethren" By Ross E. Davies

    In their books The Brethren: Inside the Supreme Court, Bob Woodward and Scott Armstrong tell a small but striking story of the racial insensitivity of Justice Harry A. Blackmun. It happened during the drafting and circulation of opinions in Flood v. Kuhn, the 1972 baseball antitrust case. But the story is false. The document from which the authors quote does not exist and never did.

  • A Tale of Two Umpires: When Al Salerno and Bill Valentine Got Thrown Out of the Game By Mark Armour

    Baseball traveled through rough waters beginning in the late 1960s, as it navigated increasing player unrest and the growing power of their union. Court cases, strikes, hearings, lawsuits—it was challenging to follow baseball in this period without a law degree. A legal battle that has been largely forgotten was waged by two American League umpires, men who became famous for a couple of years before sinking back into obscurity.

  • The Deadball Era’s Worst Pitching Staff By Tom Ruane

    Right in the middle of the Deadball Era — the years of the Hitless Wonders, small ball and Bill Bergen — the 1911 Boston Nationals’ pitchers allowed 1,021 runs scored. So how did this happen? How did a team in the middle of an era known for its dearth of hitting give up so many runs?

  • Modern Baseball’s Greatest-Hitting Team: The 1930 Phillies’ Opponents By Tom Ruane

    What was the best-hitting team in modern (i.e,. post-1900) baseball history? There are many ways to answer that question. If you were to rank offense by runs, the 1931 Yankees crossed the plate a record 1,067 times. But there was a “team” that scored almost a run per game more than the 1931 Yankees, that collected nearly 2,000 hits and whose .346 batting average far surpassed that of the 1930 Giants' .319. They were the opponents of the 1930 Philadelphia Phillies.

  • Arbitrator Seitz Sets the Players Free By Roger I. Abrams

    The most important labor arbitration decision of all time involved baseball, two pitchers and one of the finest labor arbitrators of all time, a true arbitration “superstar.” Peter Seitz's 1975 decision in baseball’s Andy Messersmith case still reverberates throughout the multibillion-dollar sports industry.

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