Regulating the National Pastime: Baseball and Antitrust

Regulating the National Pastime: Baseball and Antitrust

Regulating the National Pastime: Baseball and Antitrust

Regulating the National Pastime: Baseball and Antitrust

Synopsis

Major League Baseball, alone among industries of its size in the United States, operates as an unregulated monopoly. This 20th-century regulatory anomaly has become known as the "baseball anomaly." Major League Baseball developed into a major commercial enterprise without being subject to antitrust liability. Long after the interstate commercial character of baseball had been established and even recognized by the Supreme Court, baseball's monopoly remained free from federal regulation. Duquette explains the baseball anomaly by connecting baseball's regulatory status to the larger political environment, tracing the game's fate through four different regulatory regimes. The constellation of institutional, ideological, and political factors within each regulatory regime provides the context for the survival of the baseball anomaly.

Excerpt

It is said that few things in life are certain. Until the summer of 1994 most Americans would probably have said that, in addition to death and taxes, one thing that could be counted on was the World Series. Every fall since 1904 Americans had enjoyed the world championship of baseball. In 1994, this was not to be. This grand tradition was not interrupted by economic depression, world war, or even natural disaster. Nor was the Fall Classic canceled by an arrogant pennant winning manager unwilling to play against inferior talent. The 1994 World Series fell victim to a labor/management dispute. The player strike, baseball's ninth work stoppage since 1970, was the culmination of three decades of unrest in the business of baseball.

The 1994 baseball strike exposed the less wholesome side of our national pastime more vividly than anything before. The business of baseball took a bit of the shine off what most considered a national treasure. Indeed, baseball seemed to be losing its special place in the American psyche. Long separated from discussions of politics and industrial relations, baseball was suddenly at the center of serious public policy debates at the highest levels of government. In this more somber atmosphere, the long dormant issue of baseball's exemption from federal antitrust laws acquired a new life. Disgusted with the failure of the players and owners to come to an agreement, many, inside government and out, began pushing for repeal of the antitrust exemption as a way to pressure owners into an agreement with the players. The popular concern with baseball was reflected in both the appointment of a mediator by the President of the United States to bring . . .

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