Legal bases: baseball and the law by Roger Abrams

By Roger Abrams

Examines such concerns as drug use and playing, enforcement of contracts, and the rights of homeowners and bosses. the writer finds an all-star baseball legislation group whose tales light up dating among legislation and baseball that has made the company of baseball a really American establishment.

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But for other fans, the rival league produced more entertainment at lower prices. For an athlete with a short career span, economic reality mandated taking advantage of these rare opportunities. Even players who stayed with the established league benefited from the rivalry, finding employers willing to pay more to retain their services in a dwindling pool of available players. " The magnates pounded the Players League financially, first by scheduling games in direct competition with Players League contests and then by distributing free National League game passes throughout town.

Many came from the Irish and German working classes, and at least a fifth worked in saloons in the off-season. A staggering 80 percent of baseball players became saloon keepers after leaving the professional game. It is not surprising that Monte Ward could encourage his fellow players to join the collective effort. The players knew that a typical professional career lasted only a few years. By the 1880s, a club's roster was only fourteen players. While players were paid well compared to other workingmen, their vocation could end at a moment's notice.

This rival enterprise would end the hated practices of the established league; it was to operate without a reserve clause, a classification system, or a blacklist. Baseball players jumped to the new league like kids into a country pond, Page 19 ignoring the promise they had made in their National League contracts not to play for any other baseball club. To give the new clubs stability, players signed three-year Players League contracts at the same salaries they had received from their National League clubs in either 1888 or 1889, whichever was higher.

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