Baseball Economics: Current Research

By John Fizel; Elizabeth Gustafson et al. | Go to book overview

of free agency probably has something to do with this increase in average salaries. While Japanese club officials will tell you that baseball player salaries are adjusted based on a 250-point checklist system, it is nonetheless true that free agency has impacted the Japanese game. The problem we have is that no empirical research has been conducted on this topic to date, leaving us more or less with impressions instead of empirical facts and conclusions.

Japanese players and owners have taken the first steps toward a more modernized labor-management relationship. Only time will tell if these initial steps will be a harbinger of things to come. Collective bargaining between owners and players in Japan will necessarily be, at least in part, a reflection of the unique culture of the Japanese society. While the entire American system will probably never be implemented in Japanese professional baseball, it is worth noting that two key features of the American labor relations scene--salary arbitration and free agency--have made their way into the Japanese game. What is needed now are comparative studies to look at the impacts of these newer labor market conditions. What is the impact of salary arbitration on the process and outcomes of player salary bargaining in Japan? Similarly, what impact does the process of free agency have on salary outcomes? By answering these and other key questions, we will begin to have a better understanding of the inner workings of labor-management relations in Japanese professional baseball.


NOTES
1.
Yen and dollar figures are based on an exchange rate of 93.74 yen to the dollar, the average monthly exchange rate over the 32-month period January 1993 to August 1995. Data source: Federal Reserve System (various years).
2.
The first author of this paper found this out first hand when he attended a Pacific League game in the Tokyo Dome in the summer of 1995; an admission ticket cost 5,000 yen ($53).

-210-

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