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Jim Furtado
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Saturday, July 15, 2017

MLB Has a Long But Little-Known History of Rebels, Reformers, and Radicals

From his legal training, Ward recognized baseball contracts’ unfairness. In 1885, he organized the Brotherhood of Professional Baseball Players, the first labor union in American sports. Two years later, he published “Is the Base-Ball Player a Chattel?” accusing team owners of “wage slavery.”

Baseball magnates colluded with each other, primarily through the reserve clause, which bound players to their teams but allowed owners to release them without pay. Even after profits tripled in the 1880s, the owners imposed meager wages and extra duties — rent for uniforms, meal fees — on their workers.

Much of this was new to me. Granted, the source is Jacobin so it comes within a certain… framework… but it’s good longform, so I figured it was worth sharing and was wondering what my fellow Primates would make of it.


 

 

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