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  • Baseball and the Law: Cases and Materials by Louis H. Schiff and Robert M. Jarvis
  • Sarah K. Fields
Schiff, Louis H. and Robert M. Jarvis. Baseball and the Law: Cases and Materials. Durham, NC: Carolina Academic Press, 2016. Pp. xxvi + 1014. Notes, index, table of case law. $120.00, hb.

Baseball and the Law is intended to be a textbook for courses in this specialized area. It is probably ideal for its intended purpose, but it is also a remarkable reference tool for anyone interested in the topic. When I began the book, I felt reasonably confident that I knew something about both baseball history and the law more generally. By the time I finished, I realized that my confidence was misplaced and that this book had taught me an amazing amount.

The greatest strength of the book is its level of detail. It is more than one thousand pages of big-picture overview, small details, and reference after reference. Every baseball-related legal case I have ever heard of, as well as hundreds that I knew nothing about, appears to be excerpted or described in the text. Further, the authors reference baseball historians, philosophers, political scientists, journalists, and bloggers who have written on the topic. These references are more than simply citations; rather, they are brief summations of the author’s points and sometimes a critique of that perspective. These references are more like an annotated bibliography than the traditional footnotes to which a sport historian might be used.

The greatest challenge of the book, particularly for those not accustomed to casebooks, is its organization. Because it is structured as a traditional law-school text, finding specific topics or details can be difficult. Each of the seven chapters addresses one broad topic, and, within the chapter, the authors include excerpts of published legal cases as well as notes. [End Page 124] These are not footnotes, but rather the descriptive contextualization of the legal case, related lawsuits, relevant scholarly (and sometimes nonscholarly) commentary, and other details connected to the topic of the case.

Each chapter is more than one hundred pages long and filled with enough details to make the most curious reader happy. The introduction explores the history of baseball and the sport’s close ties to the law as well as nineteenth-century legal cases. It considers everything from the bans on Sunday baseball to baseball’s antitrust exemption. Chapter 2 examines the evolving power of the commissioner and the complicated balance of power between that office, the owners, the players, and the media. The formation, rights, privileges, and responsibilities of the teams themselves are next. The chapter “Stadiums” explores funding, operations, and obligations to spectators. Players are the topic of the next chapter, and it is one of the broader chapters, with subsections on discrimination, compensation, endorsements, taxes, asset protections, agents, and injuries. Chapter 6 is about fans, addressing ticket pricing, resale rights, souvenirs, and gambling. The final chapter, “Amateurs,” examines discrimination on the basis of age, residency, and gender, as well as the topics of risk management, officiating, and administration.

Although sitting and reading the book cover to cover was rather fun and incredibly enlightening, most scholars who are not teaching the book or not reading it for entertainment will want to use it as a reference book. This will require patience but should be worth the effort. If, for example, the reader is interested in issues of gender in baseball, he or she must look in various places. Information about how female reporters got access to locker rooms is in the chapter on commissioners in the subsection on operations; later in that section is the story of discrimination against female umpires. Gender discrimination in youth sport is in the “Amateurs” chapter. The reader must search but can find specific topics by using a combination of the index (which could be more detailed), the table of contents, and the table of cases.

Baseball and the Law is neither an encyclopedia nor Wikipedia. For scholars, the book is best approached as something to be savored and enjoyed, much like scholars used to wander library stacks in search of the book we did not know we...


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