LEGAL BASES: BASEBALL AND THE LAW by Roger I. Abrams

LEGAL BASES: BASEBALL AND THE LAW

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KIRKUS REVIEW

A prominent sports-law professor (Rutgers Univ.) 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 poor public 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. (10 b&w illustrations, not seen)

Pub Date: April 20th, 1998
ISBN: 1-56639-599-2
Page count: 240pp
Publisher: Temple Univ. Press
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15th, 1998