Jim Devine's "Show Me Spirit"
Dessem, R. Lawrence, Missouri Law Review
I am pleased to have been asked by the editors of the Missouri Law Review to write this short introduction to Associate Dean Jim Devine's final Article: "Curt Flood and a Triumph of the Show Me Spirit." (1) It provides a wonderful window on some of the things that mattered most to Jim: law, history, sports, and personal character and integrity. (2)
Jim's Article is his final gift to us all. Professor Doug Abrams knew that Jim had written the Article and Robin Nichols was able to locate an electronic draft of it. Thanks to the editors of the Missouri Law Review for doing the necessary work to bring this to print.
As his last Article illustrates, Jim Devine did some of his best teaching and writing at the intersection of law and history. Building upon earlier articles about baseball's labor wars, (3) baseball strikes, (4) and the (re)integration of baseball,5 his final Article considers legal arguments in their historical context. He notes, for instance, the string of legal victories by baseball players against their employers in the late 19th and early 20th Centuries. (6)
Jim loved sports. His office was filled with sports photographs, miniature bobblehead dolls of baseball players, baseball cards, and other baseball memorabilia. He also had a real love of competitive swimming, spending untold hours working with children, youth, and adults involved in swimming. (7)
Jim brought to his research in sports and legal history the expertise for which he was probably best known nationally: professional responsibility. He not only was the lead author on a major professional responsibility casebook, (8) but in several law review articles he considered ethics and professionalism in the context of sports. (9)
In such writings as the Article that follows, Jim's focus was not on the technicalities of the Model Rules of Professional Responsibility, but on the professionalism and character of people facing and surmounting the challenges that sports presents to even the most talented athlete. Jim would have known well the statement by legendary UCLA basketball coach John Wooden that "Sports don't build character; they reveal it." (10)
Thus sports and history and professionalism was the ideal blend for some of Jim's best writing, as exemplified by the following article about Curt Flood. Just like Curt Flood, Jim Devine moved others not because of what he said, but because of who he was and how he lived his life. As one of the authors cited by Jim said about Curt Flood, "[H]e was a very principled man." (11)
Although he hailed from New Jersey and not Missouri, Jim Devine, along with Curt Flood, was an adopted son of the Show Me State. Jim's description of Curt Flood's "Show Me spirit of stalwart stubbornness and dedication to common sense" (12) could just as easily have been applied to Jim, himself. In his Article, Jim notes the remarkable consistency of Curt Flood, who once played 223 consecutive games without an error, (13) was selected for three all-star teams, and won seven consecutive Gold Gloves. (14)
Jim was similarly stalwart and consistent. He, too, set high standards for himself and others and then exceeded those standards on a daily basis. As Hall of Fame manager Earl Weaver once said of baseball, "This ain't a football game. We do this every day." (15) Whether as a father, a husband, a teacher, a mentor, or a friend, Jim Devine lived his life with grace and dignity every single day. …