The Rise of America’s Two National Pastimes: Baseball and the Law

Mark McGwire’s seventieth home run ball sold at auction in January of this year for $3,005,000. In late 1998, Baltimore Orioles owner Peter Angelos sued a former Orioles manager and his daughter in the circuit court of Cook County, Illinois. Angelos alleged that the original lineup card from the 1995 game when Cal Ripken, Jr., broke Lou Gehrig’s consecutive game record belongs to the Orioles, not to the former manager and certainly not to his daughter. There may be no crying in baseball, but there is money. And wherever earthly treasure gathers two or more, a legal system arises. From this confluence of forces is born Legal Bases: Baseball and the Law, a recent addition to that burgeoning genre of nonfiction works about the business and law of baseball. Legal Bases intends to inform a lay audience about basic legal concepts that have shaped baseball as well as other aspects of American law and culture: antitrust law and monopolies, collective bargaining, labor arbitration, enforcement of private contractual rights, and an overview of the civil justice system. In the process, author Roger I. Abrams introduces Legal Bases as a teaching tool that uses baseball as the backdrop to discuss the role in American society of law, legal institutions, and private ordering in the development of a significant American business enterprise (p. 3).