Working Paper No. 09-58:
It's No Game: The Practice and Process of the Law in Baseball, and Vice Versa

Author(s):

Ross Davies

Date Posted: November 2009

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Abstract:

It is a commonplace that the relationship between baseball and the law is a long and close one. But, first, is it true? And, second, if it is, just how long and how close? Strangely, given the large amount of good work produced by able scholars of baseball and the law, concrete answers to these basic questions are not readily available. This article is a first step toward filling that gap. It is a sketch of the length, breadth, and depth of the relationship between baseball and the law. (In order to tell a less-than-interminable tale, this article mostly tilts back and forth between recent years - evidence of the vibrancy of the baseball-law relationship today - and the late 19th and early 20th centuries - evidence that it has been vibrant for a long time - and deals only sketchily even with those periods. This should not be taken to mean that the baseball-law relationship was any less interesting at other times, or that there isn't much more to be said about all times.) As should be clear by the end of this article, the answer to the first question is an emphatic and certain "Yes": baseball and the law are close and have been for a long time. The answer to the second question, however, is an equally emphatic but far less certain "Very": while there surely are both unrecognized extents and unmarked limits to the law-baseball relationship, we cannot define them without a fuller inventory and chronology - an old-fashioned digest - of the thousands upon thousands of events that make up the history of baseball and the law. Perhaps this article can serve as the kernel of such a project.