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Tuesday, December 24, 2019

Curt Flood: 50th anniversary of the letter that started the free agency fight

“After 12 years in the major leagues, I do not feel that I am a piece of property to be bought and sold irrespective of my wishes,” Flood wrote in his Dec. 24 missive. “I believe that any system which produces that result violates my basic rights as a citizen and is inconsistent with the laws of the United States and of the several states.

“It is my desire to play baseball in 1970 and I am capable of playing. I have received a contract offer from the Philadelphia club, but I believe I have the right to consider offers from other clubs before making any decisions. I, therefore, request that you make known to all the major league clubs my feelings in this matter, and advise them of my availability for the 1970 season.”

Walt Davis Posted: December 24, 2019 at 08:18 AM | 128 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: bowie kuhn, curt flood, free agency

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   1. cookiedabookie Posted: December 26, 2019 at 10:13 AM (#5910991)
I keep wondering if he should be more on the Hall of Merit radar? I would 100% endorse him for Hall of Fame, as a pioneer. But if we give him career credit for being blackballed, you could pretty easily get him to 50+, even 55+ WAR. He was over 41 WAR after his age 31 season, having averaged 4.4 WAR over the previous nine year period - 15+ WAR over the rest of his career seems like a conservative estimate. But he was a speed and defense guy, who's defense seemed to be slipping, so maybe he pulls a Carl Crawford/Jacoby Ellsbury and falls off a cliff.
   2. PreservedFish Posted: December 26, 2019 at 10:33 AM (#5910996)
What a brave man.
   3. cookiedabookie Posted: December 26, 2019 at 10:34 AM (#5910997)
Did a quick and dirty comparison of outfielders through age 31 with similar fWAR, defense, ISO, and wRC+, and his two most similar comps are Paul Blair and Willie Wilson, with Carl Crawford not far away. None of them aged well.
   4. . Posted: December 26, 2019 at 11:13 AM (#5911007)
It's actually mind-boggling that the owners were able to get away with misinterpreting the option clause in the standard contract for decades and decades, making it effectively perpetual when it was clearly no such thing by its language. The Seitz arbitration decision is so mundane and obvious.

If Flood signed a contract for 1969, it was in fact renewable by its terms in 1970, so he really doesn't have a leg to stand on. He could have played in 1970 without a contract and made the Messersmith/McNally argument and would have won. But he had no contractual right to declare himself free in 1970 if he signed a contract for 1969. By its express terms, it was renewable and assignable and didn't remotely make him "property."

I think he took his case eventually to court and must not have made the mundane contractual interpretation argument that carried the day five years later.
   5. . Posted: December 26, 2019 at 11:23 AM (#5911009)
And the median salary in the United States in 1969 was $9,400. Curt Flood made $90,000 for part-time work in 1969. Slavery and property, my ass.
   6. . Posted: December 26, 2019 at 11:31 AM (#5911011)
If he didn't sign a contract for 1970, depending on the actual length of the standard player contract at the time -- did it expire at the end of the World Series, or the end of the calendar year? -- the Phillies had no contractual right to assign his contract to the Senators in November 1970. I'm not entirely sure how many contracts were renewed without being technically signed in the reserve clause era, but every offseason trade of a player who was renewed rather than signed was not permissible by the contractual language. It's truly mind-boggling that no one realized this. How could Flood's lawyers have not realized it?
   7. McCoy Posted: December 26, 2019 at 12:13 PM (#5911020)
Flood lost in a trial that ultimately reached the Supreme Court. Messersmith/McNally won an arbitration case. SCOTUS has and our court system has always been a little screwy when it comes to baseball.

Miller got arbitration in 1970. A year too late for Flood though I'm pretty sure Flood would have signed a contract for 1969 even with arbitration around.
   8. McCoy Posted: December 26, 2019 at 12:17 PM (#5911021)
Under the reserve system which was backed by the Supreme Court clubs owned player in perpetuity. They all signed their contracts or they didn't get to play. It wasn't until Messersmith (McNally was retiring and had no intention of playing again) that you actually had a player play out a season without a contract. That was only possible because Miller got arbitration.
   9. Rennie's Tenet Posted: December 26, 2019 at 01:28 PM (#5911040)
It'll be interesting to see how much revision of the story takes place now that Miller is safely in the Hall. What Flood needed was a version of the agent's standard "You go out and have a good season. I'll take care of the financial side" speech. Miller arranged for the union to bankroll the litigation and chose counsel (Arthur Goldberg) who Miller later conceded had crossed the line that separated working lawyer and politician. It's a very reasonable guess that the union went with the celebrity lawyer because they had consulted with working antitrust counsel, and had received no encouragement.
   10. McCoy Posted: December 26, 2019 at 01:35 PM (#5911042)
Curt didn't want to play in Philadelphia period. He felt it was the most racist and hateful city there was in the majors and the ballpark was an absolute dump. Gussie Busch ran his team like it was his kingdom and when he and Flood got into a contract dispute after the 1969 season he traded him to the Phillies in part as an FU to Flood.

Marvin told Curt he didn't have a chance in hell of winning the case, that with a lawsuit he wasn't going to play in 1970, and there was a good chance he'd never play again. Curt was so ticked off he didn't care and Marvin and the union supported his case largely to strengthen the bond between the players and the union.
   11. wjones Posted: December 26, 2019 at 02:37 PM (#5911065)
I know that no current players testified on Flood's behalf, and not sure about retired players other than Jackie Robinson, which of course was not a bad person to have in your corner. Did any other former players testify?
   12. frannyzoo Posted: December 26, 2019 at 08:59 PM (#5911139)
Having mostly visited and occasionally posted here for a decade or so, Curt Flood would be up there with Marvin Miller in folks I think BBTF champions more than anyone. This thread has not, to this point, proven me correct in this conjecture. That's okay, but a tad surprising for someone deserving of iconic status. In short, I don't know if BBTF exists without Curt Flood.
   13. PreservedFish Posted: December 26, 2019 at 09:35 PM (#5911144)
Having mostly visited and occasionally posted here for a decade or so, Curt Flood...


Your dangling modifier here had me thinking for a moment that Curt Flood was a BTFer.

If you have visited here for a decade or so, you should recognize the style of certain people that have posted in the thread, and not find yourself surprised at their Bold and Unconventional takes.
   14. . Posted: December 27, 2019 at 07:56 AM (#5911172)
Under the reserve system which was backed by the Supreme Court clubs owned player in perpetuity. They all signed their contracts or they didn't get to play. It wasn't until Messersmith (McNally was retiring and had no intention of playing again) that you actually had a player play out a season without a contract. That was only possible because Miller got arbitration.


Except they didn't own the player in perpetuity. They never, ever did -- unless (doubtful) the standard player contract had different language than the one Seitz interpreted. The reserve clause, by its very terms, only bound the player for a year after he signed the contract.

No, they didn't all sign their contracts or they didn't get to play. If they didn't sign the contract, it was renewable for a year -- not in perpetuity as had been "thought." That was the whole point of the Messersmith arbitration.

Miller didn't need to get arbitration. A player could have played their option year without a contract and then gone to court -- most likely with a team that wanted to sign him -- to get the same contractual interpretation Seitz found.

Marvin told Curt he didn't have a chance in hell of winning the case, that with a lawsuit he wasn't going to play in 1970,


Of course. He was contractually obligated to play for the Phillies because of the renewal clause in the contract he signed. That would have been the case in 2019. It had nothing to do with the "reserve clause."
   15. McCoy Posted: December 27, 2019 at 09:05 AM (#5911175)
Except they didn't own the player in perpetuity. They never, ever did -- unless (doubtful) the standard player contract had different language than the one Seitz interpreted. The reserve clause, by its very terms, only bound the player for a year after he signed the contract.

No, they didn't all sign their contracts or they didn't get to play. If they didn't sign the contract, it was renewable for a year -- not in perpetuity as had been "thought." That was the whole point of the Messersmith arbitration.

Miller didn't need to get arbitration. A player could have played their option year without a contract and then gone to court -- most likely with a team that wanted to sign him -- to get the same contractual interpretation Seitz found.


Is this alternate history logic? It actually happened. The courts through previous cases did not want to change baseball and basically dumped it in the lap of Congress who also did nothing. Thus the owners could basically do whatever they want.

A player could refuse to sign their "option year" contract but would not be allowed to play that year, the team would own the rights to him, and no other team would be allowed to sign him to a new contract even after his "option year" was over. Baseball tightly controlled the movement and rights of baseball players and every time it was challenged in the courts the players ultimately lost. It wasn't until Miller was able to get the issue out of the courts and into arbitration that they actually won their freedom.
   16. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: December 27, 2019 at 11:46 AM (#5911188)
Is this alternate history logic? It actually happened. The courts through previous cases did not want to change baseball and basically dumped it in the lap of Congress who also did nothing. Thus the owners could basically do whatever they want.
But was that specific provision of the uniform contract ever expressly interpreted by a court? My understanding is that it was not, and that it was just assumed to have been codified based on the general antitrust exemption that came out of other cases.

It went unchallenged for so long because a) players almost universally weren’t willing to be the ones to take the risk of challenging it, and b) when the rare player like Ted Simmons did look like he may be willing to mount a serious challenge, he was given a satisfactory contract, I assume because the owners tacitly realized their interpretation of the plain language of the contract was tenuous.

So, in Miller, the players had a leader who had enough confidence that his interpretation of the clause would win to bring the issue to a head, and to convince one active player to take the leap.

Is that not correct? If so, then yeah, I think it’s at least reasonably likely that had the challenge been made earlier in court, the outcome would have been the same. Maybe arbitration was more favorable to the players, but they had the better argument based on the plain language. A court would have had to agree with a pretty tortured interpretation to side with the owners—which, based on past decisions, may have happened. But it’s far from a certainty.
   17. McCoy Posted: December 27, 2019 at 12:27 PM (#5911199)
Danny Gardella is a good example of the perils before the union. He jumped to the Mexican league and got himself banned because of it. When he tried to play in organized ball Bowie Kuhn threatened to ban anyone who played with him or against him. He sued. The federal judge rejected the case because of the 1922 ruling, about 8 months later the Court of Appeals said it could go to trial. Baseball went after Danny and others in the public over this. 4 months later Bowie lifted the ban if they dropped the suit. All except Danny did. He got as far as pretrial depositions 3 months later before he accepted a settlement from baseball to make the trial go away.

The banning and lawsuit cost him the rest of 1947 all the way through 1949 in organized ball and his career in the majors was finished. The courts were set up against him and it took a stubborn mule to get it to a cash settlement.

In terms of a player not signing his "option year" you have to remember that baseball was controlled rather tightly by the owners.

Say some guy takes the "option year" to court and wins in 1950, then what? Back then baseball was still exempt from antitrust laws. There was nothing stopping the owners or the commissioner from declaring that said player was banned from the game or that yes he is a "free agent" but his original club still owns his rights and no one else can sign him or play him. that anyone who plays with him or against him will be banned. so on and so on.
   18. McCoy Posted: December 27, 2019 at 12:42 PM (#5911202)
The Messersmith arbitration case didn't end the reserve clause. It was the spark but what ended the reserve clause was the negotiation between the owners and the union that followed after the arbitration hearing and followup lawsuit. Before the union the owners would have just kicked the winners of the trial out of baseball and in fact they locked out the players after the Messersmith case.
   19. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: December 27, 2019 at 12:42 PM (#5911203)
Baseball was still fully exempted from antitrust when the Seitz decision came down, too. The Flood court opinion did essentially admit that the exemption was pretty ridiculous, but in the end it was upheld as binding precedent.
   20. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: December 27, 2019 at 12:46 PM (#5911204)
Before the union the owners would have just kicked the winners of the trial out of baseball and in fact they locked out the players after the Messersmith case.
Possibly, but that’s a different argument than you originally seemed to be making, which was that a court would have ruled in favor of the owners.
   21. McCoy Posted: December 27, 2019 at 01:59 PM (#5911220)
Miller had gotten MLB to agree to arbitration which tired then to the decision.


Courts had ruled in their favor. What I'm saying is that even if they had lost before arbitration they could have imposed their will which is why very rarely did a player challenge them. There was very little to gain should they win and a lot to lose regardless of whether or not they won.
   22. Sunday silence Posted: December 27, 2019 at 03:45 PM (#5911251)
Is it my understanding then that Messersmith played out the entirety of the 1975 (or whatever season) without signing a contract and thus was paid under the terms of the previous contract? That's what it sounds like or maybe I am not understanding.

This is a really excellent discussion, I have no idea of the details of all this stuff.
   23. . Posted: December 27, 2019 at 03:46 PM (#5911252)
But was that specific provision of the uniform contract ever expressly interpreted by a court? My understanding is that it was not, and that it was just assumed to have been codified based on the general antitrust exemption that came out of other cases.


Exactly. All you needed was a player to play out his option and a Steinbrenner (or Steinbrenner-esque predecessor) to sign him and go to court. The contract between "Steinbrenner" and the player would have been deemed valid. Players' contracts did not have a term permitting perpetual renewal, and no court would have read one into the contract -- just as Seitz didn't.

Courts had ruled in their favor.


No court had ever interpreted players contracts in the way management said they meant, i.e., in the perpetual renewal, "reserve clause" way. The contractual interpretation argument has nothing to do with antitrust, nothing to do with the "reserve clause," nothing to do with arbitration. Unless the renewal clause in the standard player contract was different before the 70s -- highly unlikely -- for all intents and purposes, there was never actually a reserve clause in major league baseball.

The Messersmith arbitration case didn't end the reserve clause.


Well, there never actually *was* a reserve clause, so there was nothing to end. Certainly, the Messersmith decision ended the idea that player contracts contained the "reserve clause." You're technically right, in that players' contracts even now are still "reserved."

Say some guy takes the "option year" to court and wins in 1950, then what?


Then he's a free agent. The owners could collude to blackball him, but if he was good enough, they never would. Look at what happened when Catfish Hunter was declared free. Tris Speaker or Ty Cobb could have become free agents -- again, assuming the option clause was as it was in the 1970s -- the truly odd thing is that no one ever figured it out.
   24. . Posted: December 27, 2019 at 03:50 PM (#5911255)
Yes, Messersmith didn't sign his contract for 1975. It was renewed as per the terms of the one he signed in 1974, so he was validly contractually tied to the Dodgers. He became free immediately in the winter of 1975-76, after the arb decision, signed a big free agent contract with Atlanta, wasn't blackballed, wasn't "best interest of baseball" voided, or anything of the sort. There's no reason to believe the same thing wouldn't have happened in something like 1920 with Tris Speaker or Ty Cobb. Owners want to win.
   25. . Posted: December 27, 2019 at 03:57 PM (#5911256)
and in fact they locked out the players after the Messersmith case.


Bowie Kuhn ended this lockout, which is enough in and of itself to make him HOF-worthy.
   26. McCoy Posted: December 27, 2019 at 04:28 PM (#5911263)
Yes you're a genius. Provided of course you ignore reality.
   27. Sunday silence Posted: December 27, 2019 at 05:05 PM (#5911274)
If it was that simple someone would have done that long ago. Someone with not much left to lose, Im sure there were a few players like that at some pt. in their careers.
   28. . Posted: December 27, 2019 at 05:20 PM (#5911278)
The vast majority of people in life go along to get along. Very, very few people have the temperament to ride solo on something like this, which is why it took a big change in attitudes and union support for it eventually to happen. Plus, baseball players have always been very well paid compared to the population generally, which makes them less likely to adopt a particularly soloist or militarist stance. No reason for a Babe Ruth or a Mel Ott to tweak the golden goose.
   29. McCoy Posted: December 27, 2019 at 05:28 PM (#5911281)
It's absurd logic. The owners who actually held a cartel together for decades couldn't possibly do that even though they did according to you and yet the players couldn't possibly ever push for more money. Again, according to you.
   30. . Posted: December 27, 2019 at 05:53 PM (#5911283)
The owners who actually held a cartel together for decades couldn't possibly do that even though they did according to you and yet the players couldn't possibly ever push for more money. Again, according to you.


I didn't say or imply what you're attributing to me. The owners held their cartel together for decades, but it legally could have been broken decades before. There wasn't enough underlying support for any particular player to make the Messersmith argument prior to it being made, plus it carried reputational risk, a free rider problem (*), high legal fees, and legal risk, and so it was never made.

The contractual interpretation argument Messersmith made is essentially airtight and almost certainly -- nothing is entirely certain -- would have prevailed in court. The contract did not give the owners the right to perpetually renew; it's that simple. It never did. The owners never actually reduced the "reserve clause" system to contractual language -- again, quite odd.

(*) Why would one player want to take all the risk himself, when a bunch of other players would equally benefit for free?
   31. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: December 27, 2019 at 05:55 PM (#5911284)
Seems to me that you’re both right to some extent- the concept of the ‘reserve clause’ was indeed a fairly transparent fiction, but it was real in its consequences because it was held up by powerful incentives for both the players and the owners to avoid litigating it.
   32. . Posted: December 27, 2019 at 05:57 PM (#5911285)
All it would have taken is one competitive owner to break from the cartel and it would have been over. The spark just was never lit. If Ted Williams or Stan Musial (or Ty Cobb or Tris Speaker) would have been a free agent, there's virtually no doubt other owners would have bid for him and it would have been over. (*) The Red Sox and the "new" team would have fought in court about what contract was valid and the "new" team would have won. There were similar two team arguments over players in 70s basketball with the NBA and ABA, and I'm pretty sure even since then in basketball and other sports. Eric Lindros I think was one.

(*) As happened when Catfish Hunter was declared free in the winter of 1974-75. With a talent that big available only for money, the cartel didn't come close to holding. Granted, he was free for reasons that didn't challenge the reserve clause, but so what? Why would every owner refrain from being able to add Ted Williams to his team in exchange for only money? Answer: they wouldn't.
   33. McCoy Posted: December 27, 2019 at 06:30 PM (#5911287)
It's not a coincidence that the first free agent didn't come along until 1974.

The cartel held together. When a competing ledge came in and poached players they merged. When another came in and threatened they're cartel they paid them off. When Rickey threatened to create a new league they expanded. Through it all they created rules that limited player movement. It was virtually impossible for an AL team to get a NL player and vice versa. Minor league teams could only sell players for a set price and even the ones who didn't agree to that still absolutely controlled players and where they would play. The owners even limited prospects and what they could get.
   34. Sunday silence Posted: December 27, 2019 at 07:58 PM (#5911293)
But the first free agent in US professional sports was Rick Barry of the NBA. He sat out the entire 1969 season and then went to play for the Oakland Oaks. According to wikipedia this was upheld by a court, but there's no citation. THe NBA and most major sports had some sort of equivalent of the "reserve" clause or the renewal clause or whatever you want to call it. I guess there's some ammunition for the idea that the reserve clause ad infinitum would have falled sooner had someone challenged it in baseball.

BUt you cant assume that would have happened in 1925 or 1940 or whatever. It takes years sometimes generations literally to make legal progress. HOw many years did it take to overtake "Separate but Equal?" Like what 60? Or the rights of women? or the rights of gay/transgendered? This has taken generations literally. Its hard to imagine courts being as progressive as no name thinks they are.

the conventional wisdom seems to be that because MLB was given an anti trust exemption there was reason to believe the reserve clause at least in baseball would be upheld and players would remain property of teams. No one challenged it to my knowledge and so we are left to speculate. At least that is what I see so far from googling it a bit.
   35. Sunday silence Posted: December 27, 2019 at 08:04 PM (#5911294)
nvm
   36. McCoy Posted: December 27, 2019 at 08:14 PM (#5911296)
No player ever did the option year thing but players did challenge the reserve clause and they were either coerced or paid off to end their challenge.

Miller joined the baseball union in 1966 and immediately knew he could beat the reserve clause. But he needed to get the players ready and in the right frame of mind to get and keep any gains from victory. That's why it took 9 years for Miller and the union to get to the point where they would challenge the reserve clause. There was many steps needed along the way to achieve success.
   37. Sunday silence Posted: December 27, 2019 at 08:17 PM (#5911297)
what exactly was happening when Bouton wrote his book? Was there some sort of hold out or lockout in 1968? At the beginning of the book he's talking about Yastrzemski being selfish and not wanting to help the union. Can you shed a little light on that?
   38. McCoy Posted: December 27, 2019 at 09:25 PM (#5911307)
Spring training boycott because of a disagreement in the pension plan. They had signed their first CBA but couldn't come to terms on the funding of the pension plan.

Players boycotted the start of spring training. Bowie put pressure on the owners and the players got what they wanted. Bowie is pretty much the reason the owners got rid of the commissioner. He was too worried about his reputation and legacy and wasnt more concerned about the owners, their egos, and their pocketbooks. He constantly got in their way when it came to the labor fights.

As far as Yaz goes he was a company man. Most of the stars generally were as they were well taken care of during their playing days and after.
   39. McCoy Posted: December 27, 2019 at 09:26 PM (#5911308)
Lords of the Realm is a great book on baseball labor history.
   40. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: December 28, 2019 at 01:36 AM (#5911316)
It takes years sometimes generations literally to make legal progress. HOw many years did it take to overtake "Separate but Equal?" Like what 60? Or the rights of women? or the rights of gay/transgendered? This has taken generations literally.
Legally, none of those issues came down to the interpretation of one fairly straightforward provision in a contract between two parties.
   41. David Nieporent (now, with children) Posted: December 28, 2019 at 06:40 AM (#5911319)
Exactly. All you needed was a player to play out his option and a Steinbrenner (or Steinbrenner-esque predecessor) to sign him and go to court. The contract between "Steinbrenner" and the player would have been deemed valid. Players' contracts did not have a term permitting perpetual renewal, and no court would have read one into the contract -- just as Seitz didn't.
Boy, I see that someone hasn't gotten any better at lawyering in the time I haven't been around here much. At best for the players the contract was unclear. It did not say, as he seems to think, that teams could keep a player for one more year after his contract expired. It said that teams could renew the contract for a year. And when you renew a contract, you at least arguably renew the whole contract, which includes the renewal provision. To be sure, one can make an argument that it was ambiguous. But what happens when a contractual term is ambiguous? One normally looks at the course of dealings between the parties to determine the best interpretation. And the players and teams had arguably¹ treated it as perpetually renewable for, what, 90 years? More importantly, it's not clear that it could have gone to court at all. There was always arbitration of such contractual disputes, even before Miller — it's just that it was the commissioner who was the arbitrator. (See, for example, Charlie Finley's challenge to Kuhn's decision to prevent him from selling players.) Miller's achievement was not setting up an arbitration system; it was setting up a neutral arbitration system.


Incidentally, note that MLB's position was actually that the contract was irrelevant, that the reserve system was not based on that contract at all, but on the century-old agreement between the clubs. Seitz rejected that, obviously.


¹There are counterarguments; after all, if it were 100% clear, then teams wouldn't have repeatedly felt compelled to buy off players who had considered the Messersmith approach.
   42. David Nieporent (now, with children) Posted: December 28, 2019 at 06:50 AM (#5911320)

Miller joined the baseball union in 1966 and immediately knew he could beat the reserve clause. But he needed to get the players ready and in the right frame of mind to get and keep any gains from victory. That's why it took 9 years for Miller and the union to get to the point where they would challenge the reserve clause. There was many steps needed along the way to achieve success.
One key one was Catfish Hunter. His unique free agency showed players what they were really worth on the open market, which gave them the incentive to fight. Hunter went from a one-year deal for $100k to a five year deal at $750k/year. (But, of course, Hunter's free agency was also thanks to Marvin Miller's obtaining neutral arbitration. If Kuhn were the one deciding, it's hard to imagine he'd have declared Hunter a free agent.)
   43. Sunday silence Posted: December 28, 2019 at 06:52 AM (#5911321)
But what happens when a contractual term is ambiguous? One normally looks at the course of dealings between the parties to determine the best interpretation. And the players and teams had arguably¹ treated it as perpetually renewable for, what, 90 years?


I think your missing a bigger point here: when a term is ambiguous the general rule of thumb is that is read against the party that created the ambiguity. At some pt. someone realized that was a big point the ongoing dispute that it would be read against the owner's interests.
   44. . Posted: December 28, 2019 at 07:16 AM (#5911322)
As far as Yaz goes he was a company man. Most of the stars generally were as they were well taken care of during their playing days and after.


Exactly, and that's the far bigger reason the status quo was never challenged until a cultural era in which the status quo more broadly was under attack. It's a lot easier to be a "renegade" when you have wide support from your peers and the wider culture than when you're flying completely solo.
   45. David Nieporent (now, with children) Posted: December 28, 2019 at 07:43 AM (#5911323)
I think your missing a bigger point here: when a term is ambiguous the general rule of thumb is that is read against the party that created the ambiguity. At some pt. someone realized that was a big point the ongoing dispute that it would be read against the owner's interests.
I am well aware of contra proferentem. But that doctrine typically only is employed as a last resort, after other tools of interpretation fail. If the course of dealing, course of performance, and trade usage can resolve the ambiguity, then contra proferentem is generally not necessary.
   46. . Posted: December 28, 2019 at 07:43 AM (#5911324)
And, yes, looking at the Rick Barry situation it was directly on point and *is* the hypothetical "Ted Williams free agency." He was drafted by the SF Warriors, wanted to jump to the ABA, he went to court, and the court said he owed the Warriors one more *and only one more* year because of the option clause in the contract he signed, and then he was free. He sat out the 1967-68 season rather than play for the Warriors, then was free to go to his new team, which he did. Decision issued August 9, 1967.

It looks like the Warriors never even bothered going back to court to try to enforce the option clause for the second year out, most likely because any legal argument they made would have been preposterous.
   47. David Nieporent (now, with children) Posted: December 28, 2019 at 07:44 AM (#5911325)
and that's the far bigger reason the status quo was never challenged until a cultural era in which the status quo more broadly was under attack.
The status quo, of course, was challenged before that era. McCoy already mentioned Danny Gardella. There was also Toolson.
   48. Sunday silence Posted: December 28, 2019 at 07:54 AM (#5911327)
There was always arbitration of such contractual disputes, even before Miller — it's just that it was the commissioner who was the arbitrator. (See, for example, Charlie Finley's challenge to Kuhn's decision to prevent him from selling players.)


I thought this was 1974 and Marvin Miller was the rep then, no?
   49. Sunday silence Posted: December 28, 2019 at 07:57 AM (#5911328)
If the course of dealing, course of performance, and trade usage can resolve the ambiguity, then contra proferentem is generally not necessary.


What exactly was it about the way baseball was handling the renewal clause that would interpret the renewal clause?

I mean this is an odd way to look at this. For 100 years baseball players had been signing agreements that allowed them to be renewed. No one challenged it, and I dont think there was any sort of working agreement between players and management as to what that clause really meant. So how does their course of conduct allow us to interpret that clause? Im totally lost as to what you are suggesting here.

Both sides appear to have let that issue alone.

This is not like some trade agreement where both sides interpret "vegetables" to include tomatoes or something when they fill out an order. Or both sides agree that when the bell rings there's still a few minutes left to complete any trade that we are still in process. I dont know what you mean by usage or course of performance here.
   50. David Nieporent (now, with children) Posted: December 28, 2019 at 08:00 AM (#5911329)
My writing was a bit shorthand and unclear. The Finley thing was actually 1976, a time when Miller was rep, yes. But this particular grievance was between an owner and MLB rather than one involving the players, so neutral arbitration didn’t apply. (I wasn’t citing this as an instance of something that happened pre-Miller; I was merely citing it as an illustration of how things worked when there wasn’t neutral arbitration: the commissioner unilaterally decided things and the courts had no say.)
   51. Sunday silence Posted: December 28, 2019 at 08:10 AM (#5911331)
Boy, I see that someone hasn't gotten any better at lawyering in the time I haven't been around here much. At best for the players the contract was unclear. It did not say, as he seems to think, that teams could keep a player for one more year after his contract expired. It said that teams could renew the contract for a year. And when you renew a contract, you at least arguably renew the whole contract, which includes the renewal provision. To be sure, one can make an argument that it was ambiguous. But what happens when a contractual term is ambiguous? One normally looks at the course of dealings between the parties to determine the best interpretation. And the players and teams had arguably¹ treated it as perpetually renewable for, what, 90 years?


what is your point in all this? No name is saying that the renewal clause does not mean it goes on perpetually. YOu make this big long winded paragraph and at the end you say they look at the course of dealings, and these two parties had treated it as perpetual.

What part of what he said do you disagree with? It sounds like you agree that its perpetual.
   52. Sunday silence Posted: December 28, 2019 at 08:12 AM (#5911332)

My writing was a bit shorthand and unclear. The Finley thing was actually 1976, a time when Miller was rep, yes. But this particular grievance was between an owner and MLB rather than one involving the players, so neutral arbitration didn’t apply.


OK what you're saying is that there was always quasi arbitration; and that would have been the Comm'r at least from 1921 onward.

OK then my assumption is that Landis would have read this term as being perpetually renewable. THen who's next Eckhart? What would have he have said? I presume Bowie Kuhn would have interpreted it the owners way; isnt that part of dynamic in all this?
   53. . Posted: December 28, 2019 at 08:25 AM (#5911333)
It doesn't matter what Landis or Eckhart would have done, unless there was a clause in the contract requiring disputes over its interpretation to go to arbitration rather than court. Maybe there was, I don't know. In the NBA, there obviously wasn't, or else Rick Barry would have had to arbitrate. If I had to guess, I'd guess there wasn't a mandatory arbitration clause in the standard player contract or the governing documents in the Landis era. But it's only a guess.
   54. Sunday silence Posted: December 28, 2019 at 08:31 AM (#5911334)

And, yes, looking at the Rick Barry situation it was directly on point and *is* the hypothetical "Ted Williams free agency.


OK so its your position that a court would have eagerly joined in on this and have allowed baseball players to be free earlier than 1974 or whenever Messershmitt was? And that the anti trust exemption created in 1922 (Federal baseball club vs Nat'l league) would not have applied to this.

As background, Gardella dropped his case in 1949 settling for $65k, upon counsel's recommendation he would not win in Sup Ct. And in 1953 the Sup court affirmed per curiam Toolson's case which closely similar, citing the anti trust exemption of 1922. Toolson of course losing.

So at what point in history do you think someone could have done a Rick Barry? in 1925? in 1945? 1955?
   55. Sunday silence Posted: December 28, 2019 at 08:34 AM (#5911335)
If I had to guess, I'd guess there wasn't a mandatory arbitration clause in the standard player contract or the governing documents in the Landis era. But it's only a guess.


there probably wasnt as both Gardella and Toolson made it to court. So what is your overall point here? That a player could have gone to court and won?

Everyone agrees that the players could have gone to court. Not many agree on the second part.
   56. . Posted: December 28, 2019 at 08:36 AM (#5911336)
Monte Ward won a Barry-esque court case in 1890. Baseball sued, trying to get an injunction preventing him from playing for another team, citing the "reserve clause," and lost.
   57. Sunday silence Posted: December 28, 2019 at 08:58 AM (#5911337)
what's your pt? That's before 1922. Can you be any more obtuse?
   58. Sunday silence Posted: December 28, 2019 at 08:59 AM (#5911338)
Its a shame Danny Gardella couldnt catch fly balls, otherwise he'd probably be one of the most famous ball players ever. Just read his bio:

https://sabr.org/bioproj/person/c141e904
   59. McCoy Posted: December 28, 2019 at 09:06 AM (#5911339)
https://www.theantitrustattorney.com/baseball-and-the-antitrust-laws-part-ii-the-owners-strike-back-and-strike-out/
   60. McCoy Posted: December 28, 2019 at 09:07 AM (#5911340)
Monte won a trial case in 1890. Baseball changed the contracts afterward and had them go all the way up to state supreme Court and SCOTUS.
   61. Sunday silence Posted: December 28, 2019 at 09:53 AM (#5911347)

I think he took his case eventually to court and must not have made the mundane contractual interpretation argument that carried the day five years later.


I dont think FLood made that argument because as you pointed out he had signed a contract that provided for its renewal. He seems to be bound by that. I just read the Supreme Courts op. in Flood, and I did not see any mention of it, so I think that's what happened there. I suppose.

Also to point out that this contractual argument did not "Carry the day" five years later. My understanding is that Seitz ruled Messersmith was a free agent ,by playing out his option year. The renewal clause itself was bargained away by collective bargaining between players and owners a little while later. That's my understaning.
   62. . Posted: December 28, 2019 at 10:31 AM (#5911348)
The renewal clause was amended, but not eliminated, from the uniform player contract and is still in there today, modified by an exception for players who have elected free agency under the Basic Agreement. It's how pre-arb guys get renewed. Players are also still "reserved," that's how the 40-man roster comes about. Tendering a contract for the next year reserves the player.

Flood (a) was never going to be free for 1970 because of his 1969 contract; (b) would have been free for 1971 under the Barry precedent; and (c) was never going to be free earlier than 1971 because of the time it was going to (and did) take his case to wind its way through the courts. He got bad advice and took on more than he needed to. How that came about is an interesting question, most likely at the end of the day because Miller and/or Flood's lawyers were glory-seeking. Once he'd sat 1970, he and the union should have fought his trade to Washington, since the Cardinals didn't own his contract or rights anymore (Barry).(*) Maybe they did do that, I don't know.

(*) Unless the contract ran through the calendar year, rather than the end of the World Series -- unlikely, but possible.
   63. McCoy Posted: December 28, 2019 at 10:56 AM (#5911350)
His "bad advice" was that he was going to lose the case and his career would be ruined. He did it anyway. The flood case happened because Flood wanted it to happen.
   64. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: December 28, 2019 at 11:03 AM (#5911351)
It said that teams could renew the contract for a year. And when you renew a contract, you at least arguably renew the whole contract, which includes the renewal provision.
This interpretation would render the ‘for a period of one year’ in the renewal provision surplusage, as it was a one-year contract to begin with. To have any purpose, that clause would have to be interpreted as a limitation on the total period of the renewal.
   65. . Posted: December 28, 2019 at 11:07 AM (#5911352)
His "bad advice" was that he was going to lose the case and his career would be ruined. He did it anyway. The flood case happened because Flood wanted it to happen.


He was never blackballed; indeed, the Senators freely traded for him. His career wasn't ruined by the case, it was ruined by the fact that he couldn't play well anymore and hung up his spikes. He stunk in 1971. And please don't start with the "he was mentally stressed by the crush of being traded and the litigation," blah blah blah. Rick Barry was still able to play extremely well -- most likely because he was still young, rather than 33 like Flood was. Muhammed Ali was able to box well after taking his case to the Supreme Court and sitting out four years, for almost certainly the same reason.

He had no case to have the assignment of his contract from the Cards to Phils nullified and no case to be a free agent in 1970. Both issues were covered explicitly by the contract he signed. Even if he'd won the antitrust case, he never would have gotten those remedies -- and at the point of decision, they were moot anyway. The other sports didn't have baseball's antitrust exemption and still were able to enforce the one-year renewal clauses (*) as a matter of contract law. (See, again, Barry. The Warriors didn't need to point to anything antitrust to bind Barry for the option year, all they needed to do was point to the contract he signed.)

(*) And clauses permitting contract assignment, i.e., trades.
   66. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: December 28, 2019 at 11:14 AM (#5911354)
He was never blackballed; indeed, the Senators freely traded for him. His career wasn't ruined by the case, it was ruined by the fact that he couldn't play well anymore and hung up his spikes. He stunk in 1971.
Yeah, the blackballing thing has always been hard for me to accept given that he was, you know, allowed to play after the case. How did that become the accepted take?
   67. McCoy Posted: December 28, 2019 at 11:28 AM (#5911356)
I'm not sure who you're arguing with. I said the advice he was given was that he would lose and his career would be ruined. What does future actions have to do with present decisions?
   68. . Posted: December 28, 2019 at 11:31 AM (#5911358)
How did that become the accepted take?


And the Senators gave him a $20,000 raise from his 1969 salary. His 1971 salary as a "blackballed" worker was roughly 10 times the median US salary.

To answer your broader question, baseball fans tend to romanticize the history of their sport beyond all reason, seeing in it an essentially progressive arc that parallels the one they'd like to see the broader nation follow, and in a very tangible sense see their sport egging on the nation's progress -- which gives them personal pride that they're baseball fans. People who do that tend to lose sense of actual facts and events. You don't hear basketball fans waxing poetic about Rick Barry breaking the reserve clause and fighting for freedom; hell, I didn't really even know about his litigation and I've been a sports/sports business fan for years. Oscar Robertson filed an antitrust-esque suit against the NBA right around the time of Flood's suit, that kept the NBA and ABA from merging, and therefore driving player salaries and freedom way up -- and you don't hear much about that one either.

   69. . Posted: December 28, 2019 at 11:34 AM (#5911360)
From the Flood Supremes opinion:

But at the age of 31, in October 1969, Flood was traded to the Philadelphia Phillies of the National League in a multi-player transaction. He was not consulted about the trade. He was informed by telephone and received formal notice only after the deal had been consummated. In December he complained to the Commissioner of Baseball and asked that he be made a free agent and be placed at liberty to strike his own bargain with any other major league team. His request was denied.


That was a preposterous demand, completely at odds with the contract he'd signed and the prevailing and entirely legal practice in professional sports without any antitrust exemption or protection, made by a man who made 10 times the income of the average US worker for essentially part-time work. There's no need to valorize such a ridiculous thing. The entire episode, including the poor legal strategy, and rushed demands and lawsuits, reads essentially as farce. The bad Supreme Court decision and Justice Blackmum going on for pages about baseball's "colorful" history, replete with a long, meaningless list of player names, pretty much completes it.
   70. McCoy Posted: December 28, 2019 at 11:38 AM (#5911362)
Without baseball in his life everyday and the money it brought in Flood quickly went broke and became a full blown alcoholic. He announced the senators and fled the country.

Taking on baseball and sitting out the 1970 season ruined his career.
   71. McCoy Posted: December 28, 2019 at 11:41 AM (#5911363)
And yet your own example, Monte Ward, was able to win the court case against him back in 1890.
   72. . Posted: December 28, 2019 at 11:43 AM (#5911364)
Taking on baseball and sitting out the 1970 season ruined his career.


It did no such thing. Players sit out full seasons all the time without their careers being ruined.
   73. Sunday silence Posted: December 28, 2019 at 11:44 AM (#5911365)
I am well aware of contra proferentem. But that doctrine typically only is employed as a last resort, after other tools of interpretation fail. If the course of dealing, course of performance, and trade usage can resolve the ambiguity, then contra proferentem is generally not necessary.


Here's what baseballreference says about the Seitz ruling :

. In essence, Seitz ruled that since the owners had written the contract, it was their responsibility to spell out its terms exactly. Because the reserve clause didn't explicitly state that it would be applied to the season played without a signed contract, he had to accept the players' interpretation that the clause only extended for one season and not in perpetuity.


This is what Im saying: ambiguous terms are read against the party that wrote them. Your response is that the courts will look to trade usage to interpret them. My question is how is that relevant? What sort of dealings, or usage etc. would help us to determine what the reserve clause means?

Apparently, Seitz didnt find any to use to help him interpret the clause.
   74. . Posted: December 28, 2019 at 11:45 AM (#5911366)
And yet your own example, Monte Ward, was able to win the court case against him back in 1890.


Right, but he didn't demand immediate freedom and neither did, more on point, Rick Barry. Flood signed a contract that paralleled the contracts of the non-antitrust exempt sports that was assignable and renewable for a year. Not only didn't he have a leg to stand on, he didn't have a toenail to stand on.
   75. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: December 28, 2019 at 11:46 AM (#5911367)
Without baseball in his life everyday and the money it brought in Flood quickly went broke and became a full blown alcoholic.
If that all happened in 1970 when he was sitting out, I guess I can see how one would say the case ruined his career because that could quite well be responsible for his performance when he came back. Doesn’t add up to blackballing though.

   76. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: December 28, 2019 at 11:46 AM (#5911368)
Without baseball in his life everyday and the money it brought in Flood quickly went broke and became a full blown alcoholic. He announced the senators and fled the country.

Taking on baseball and sitting out the 1970 season ruined his career.


Sounds like poor money management and alcoholism ruined his career.
   77. Howie Menckel Posted: December 28, 2019 at 11:47 AM (#5911369)
Flood had a 100 OPS+ in 1969 - and after his dismal (7 singles in 35 AB) results with the Senators, he finished with a 100 career OPS+.
   78. . Posted: December 28, 2019 at 11:50 AM (#5911370)
. In essence, Seitz ruled that since the owners had written the contract, it was their responsibility to spell out its terms exactly. Because the reserve clause didn't explicitly state that it would be applied to the season played without a signed contract, he had to accept the players' interpretation that the clause only extended for one season and not in perpetuity.


This isn't really right. The Basic Agreements going back to at least 1970 contained an express provision that the union wasn't agreeing to the reserve system. It's also not right in that the reserve clause *did* explicitly say it would be applied to the season played without a signed contract.
   79. McCoy Posted: December 28, 2019 at 11:51 AM (#5911372)
Ward didn't sue baseball. Baseball sued him because instead of demanding to be a free agent he simply made himself a free agent and created his own league.
   80. . Posted: December 28, 2019 at 11:53 AM (#5911373)
--
   81. . Posted: December 28, 2019 at 11:53 AM (#5911374)
Ward didn't sue baseball. Baseball sued him


To enforce the reserve clause. And lost. As a matter of contract law.
   82. McCoy Posted: December 28, 2019 at 12:00 PM (#5911377)
A pretty good little read that talks about the Seitz ruling. The author argues that Seitz got it wrong/ It also brings up a point that Seitz didn't actually want to rule on this. He told the owners which way he was leaning and that they should negotiate this out but they said no. They figured they could take the ruling to court and win it there. But once the arbitrator made his ruling the courts were unlikely to overturn it.
   83. McCoy Posted: December 28, 2019 at 12:01 PM (#5911378)
To enforce the reserve clause. And lost. As a matter of contract law.

And Flood sued baseball on the same grounds and lost.
   84. . Posted: December 28, 2019 at 12:06 PM (#5911380)
The owners did not properly encapsulate their vision of the reserve clause in the sport's governing documents, including the uniform player contract. That's why they lost. It was basically drafting incompetence on their part or their lawyers' part.

Reserving players is different conceptually from the language of player contracts.
   85. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: December 28, 2019 at 12:06 PM (#5911381)
Ward didn't sue baseball. Baseball sued him
In Soviet Russia?
   86. . Posted: December 28, 2019 at 12:08 PM (#5911383)
And Flood sued baseball on the same grounds and lost.


Nope, he didn't sue on contract law grounds.
   87. McCoy Posted: December 28, 2019 at 12:10 PM (#5911384)
I should also add that if Seitz had heard the Flood case he would have likely sided with Flood as he believed signing a contract doesn't renew the option year.
   88. Sunday silence Posted: December 28, 2019 at 12:37 PM (#5911389)
Players sit out full seasons all the time without their careers being ruined.


And "all the time" meaning like what once a decade?
   89. Sunday silence Posted: December 28, 2019 at 12:40 PM (#5911390)
Muhammed Ali was able to box well after taking his case to the Supreme Court and sitting out four years, for almost certainly the same reason.
r


Every time you say "almost certainly" I read it as: "this supports my opinion even though there's no real evidence one way or the other."
   90. Sunday silence Posted: December 28, 2019 at 12:41 PM (#5911391)
like here:

. If Ted Williams or Stan Musial (or Ty Cobb or Tris Speaker) would have been a free agent, there's virtually no doubt other owners would have bid for him
   91. Sunday silence Posted: December 28, 2019 at 12:42 PM (#5911392)
or here:


The contractual interpretation argument Messersmith made is essentially airtight and almost certainly -- nothing is entirely certain -- would have prevailed in court
   92. David Nieporent (now, with children) Posted: December 28, 2019 at 12:50 PM (#5911393)
What part of what he said do you disagree with? It sounds like you agree that its perpetual.
Uh, he said the opposite — that it wasn't perpetual — so how could i "agree" that it was perpetual? But what I actually disagreed with was his claim that it was a slam dunk case in favor of the players, that Seitz's ruling was guaranteed. ("No court would have" ruled in the owners' favor.)
   93. Sunday silence Posted: December 28, 2019 at 01:28 PM (#5911399)
OK David, I get what you are saying in your last post. I misinterpreted what one or the other was saying. I think it was your comment here:

It did not say, as he seems to think, that teams could keep a player for one more year after his contract expired.


I am not even sure how I took that but I misinterpreted what was being said by either you or both of you. OK he is saying it's not a perpetual renewal. Your point is both the owner's interpretation and in certain ways it was interpreted by others; that it did indeed mean to be perpetual. Correct ?
   94. Rennie's Tenet Posted: December 28, 2019 at 01:56 PM (#5911404)
The flood case happened because Flood wanted it to happen.


It also happened because it was funded by the union. Flood showed up in Miller's office with his business lawyer from St. Louis, who to his credit seemed to know that he was in over his head. If the union didn't fund Flood's representation, Flood would either have to go home or find antitrust counsel who would work on contingency. The union extracted a promise from Flood that he would continue with the lawsuit even if he received a good settlement offer. Aside from his St Louis lawyer, it's doubtful that Flood had anyone devoted to his interests in this matter.

   95. McCoy Posted: December 28, 2019 at 02:04 PM (#5911409)
Flood traveled to Puerto Rico to meet with his fellow players and they agreed to fund his lawsuit.
   96. Sunday silence Posted: December 28, 2019 at 02:04 PM (#5911410)
THe article cited by McCoy in post 82 is very good. Thank you. This article's premise and basic argument is sort of what David was talking about and what I disagree with. THe article says that the past pattern/practice of the "reserve system" meant that it was indeed a perpetual system. So heres from the article;

There is no question that Marvin Miller believed that the uniform contract allowed for only a single renewal. He certainly wanted that to be the case. If it was the case, then why had no player from 1879— when the reserve system was first adopted by the owners—to 1973 ever “played out his option” and declared he was a free agent?19 For almost a century, players and owners acted as if the reserve system was perpetual.


My argument is this: you can propose any hypothetical you want (why didnt no one play out their option year?) but that hardly proves that there is some sort of understanding here. Players keep signing one year contracts that allow for a renewal year. So what? What does that tell you? Does it tell you how to interpret an amiguous term? How so? All the players keep signing one year deals; they could just as equally believe its a one year renewal only. I dont see what the article's author sees here.

Well why didnt they play out their option and declare themselves free agents? Well who the hell knows? Everyone is different. Some of them may have needed the money. SOme of them didnt care. Some of them were bought off. What does the prove?

The issue was never raised in the sense that there was some understanding between players and management as to what it meant. If you had just read that clause without understanding baseball, what would you think?

THe author then manages to belabor this point several times such as here:


The first clause is of particular importance: The owners agreed not to change the reserve system. That must mean that the reserve system as operated historically continued unchanged.


He proves that negotiations between players and management from 1968 to 73 left the reserve system intact. It doesnt prove waht the reserve means.

Lets say you and I agree to buy vegetables and not fruites. Are tomatoes included? I put tomatoes in the deal and you accept; well clearly you and I agree that tomatoes are covered.

OK scenario II: I never put tomatoes in the deal.

"See See? You dont think tomatoes are vegetables! AHA!

"Why? that? "

Cause you've been doing it this way for a hundred years, that proves your understanding that tomatoes are not vegetables."

"What if I dont like tomaotes? "

Hopefully you get the analogy.


   97. Sunday silence Posted: December 28, 2019 at 02:25 PM (#5911414)
in 1970 both sides agreed to the following clause as they hammered out a new deal:

The parties have differing views as to the legality and as to the merits of such system as presently constituted. This Agreement shall in no way prejudice the position or legal rights of the Parties or of any Player regarding the reserve system.25


It seems the two sides have different views... I mean it doesnt say that the two sides dont agree on what the reserve system means. I guess its arguable, I hardly think it proves that there was an understanding about what the reserve system means. Certainly by 1970, no one on the players side is going to admit that its understood to be perpetual.
   98. . Posted: December 28, 2019 at 03:15 PM (#5911420)
Well why didnt they play out their option and declare themselves free agents? Well who the hell knows?


Because the vast majority of people go along to get along, because athletes on their own are generally not that swift, and because it took awhile for other people who are swift to see that they could make a bunch of money themselves by getting involved with athletes.

The NFL reserve system, a similar one-year option renewal clause, was struck down on antitrust grounds by the Supreme Court in 1957.(*) It *still* took six more years for a player to play out his option and change teams, R.C. Owens in 1963. At which point, the owners and commissioner enacted the "Rozelle Rule" by which he could compensate teams losing free agents with assets from the team signing them. Which is probably similar to what would have happened if there had been a "Ty Cobb, free agent" or "Ted Williams, free agent."

(*) Another case I'd never really heard of before this exercise. As noted upthread, football fans don't wax rhapsodic about the "bravery" of the essentially anonymous guy who ended the reserve clause in the NFL 13 years before the Curt Flood lawsuit. That's purely a baseball fan thing, which means there's something about baseball or baseball fans that make it a thing.
   99. McCoy Posted: December 28, 2019 at 03:28 PM (#5911423)
Baseball couldn't have it's rules stuck down on antitrust grounds. That was the whole point of there not being a point to take them to court. It's why Miller didn't think going to the courts was a good way to solve the problem
   100. Rennie's Tenet Posted: December 28, 2019 at 05:33 PM (#5911451)
"...because it took awhile for other people who are swift to see that they could make a bunch of money themselves by getting involved with athletes."

Also, for the great bulk of baseball history, the money available didn't amount to much. I guess the first influx that showed real potential was when cities started building stadiums and offering inducements to move there. Then you got some expansion fees. The World Series and All Star Game went to night games at much higher rates. Finally, you get the cable explosion, and somewhere in there merchandising takes off. The Terrapins decision turn heads today, but on the facts it wasn't so silly in 1920. It was a very high-profile industry, but the individual businesses were just medium-sized.
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