By STEVE KRAH
Stated simply, a law is a rule or set of rules.
Baseball is governed by a set of rules.
The connections between the two disciplines are many as evidenced in a book authored by two law professors — Ed Edmonds of the University of Notre Dame and Frank G. Houdek of the Southern Illinois University-Carbondale.
“Baseball Meets the Law: A Chronology of Decisions, Statutes and Other Legal Events” (published by McFarland & Co., 2017) highlights many interesting intersections of jurisprudence and the Grand Old Game.
While it was produced by two men who once directed their respective school’s law libraries and provides exhaustive footnotes and a subject index for legal scholars who wish to dig deeper into a topic, the 336-page book is intended for a general audience.
“Baseball & The Law: Cases and Materials,” written by Louis H. Schiff and Robert M. Jarvis and published by Carolina Academic Press in 2016, is a 1,040-page book aimed at law school students.
Edmonds says the chronologically-based “Baseball Meets the Law” uses vignettes to tell stories like “A League of Their Own” being the only baseball movie selected for the Library of Congress National Film Registry, an annual list that recognizes 25 films for historical and aesthetic significance.
The earliest sighting of baseball meeting the law comes from 1791 in Pittsfield, Mass. It was ruled that no bat and ball games could be conducted within 80 yards of the meeting house.
Too many broken windows and too much noise.
“It was an early attempt at zoning,” says Edmonds, who started teaching sports law at the College of William & Mary 35 years ago and taught the subject for 11 years at Notre Dame (he was an ND undergraduate from 1969-73). “We show how that incident connected baseball and the law.”
The book combines research with Edmonds’ teachings with Houdek’s large bibliography of sports law articles.
Did you know that Pennsylvania passed a blue act in 1794 prohibiting baseball on Sunday? Philadelphia was the last city to host a legal Sunday baseball game in 1934. “Sunday Baseball: The Major Leagues’ Struggle to Play Baseball on the Lord’s Day, 1876-1934,” authored by Charles Bevis and published by McFarland & Co., is devoted to the subject.
Wonder why baseball and other sports have so many “throwback” uniforms?
“It’s to protect that trademark,” says Edmonds.
“We bring awareness that these issues exsist,” says Edmonds. “It goes beyond antitrust, strikes and labor organizations.”
Edmonds notes the law’s hand in starting the Negro National League in 1920 and that journalists from the Indianapolis Defender and Indianapolis Freeman newspapers had a hand in drawing up the league constitution. The Indianapolis ABC’s were a charter member of the NNL.
A Society for American Baseball Research member, Edmonds attended the Jerry Malloy Negro League Conference in Harrisburg, Pa., in July. He also went to his first SABR national convention in New York in June and belongs to the society’s Baseball Card Committee. He knows about the legal fights between card companies and the players who were signed to exclusive contracts.
Edmonds is very involved with the tracking of Major League Baseball salary arbitration and the Collective Bargaining Agreement. His findings are found on in the scholarship repository of the Notre Dame Law School’s Kresge Law Library.
In delving in antitrust and labor issues in baseball, Edmonds has written about U.S. Supreme Court cases (Federal Baseball v. National League, Toolson v. New York Yankees and Flood v. Kuhn).
Edmonds has spoken at the annual Cooperstown Symposium on Baseball and American Culture and the Annual Spring Training Conference on the Historical and Sociological Impact of Baseball sponsored by Nine: A Journal of Baseball History and Culture.
As part of the Jerome Hall Law Library’s Annual Welcome Week activities, Edmonds and Houdek will discuss their book at noon Monday, Aug. 28 at Indiana University Maurer School of Law’s Moot Court Room.