View Poll Results: How effectively could a player bargain under the Reserve Clause, as opposed to now?

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  • 100% effectively.

    0 0%
  • 75% effectively

    0 0%
  • 50% effectively

    4 9.09%
  • 25% effectively

    6 13.64%
  • 10% effectively

    27 61.36%
  • 0 % effectively

    7 15.91%
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Thread: Reserve Clause: Bargaining

  1. #101
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    Quote Originally Posted by EdTarbusz View Post
    No it wasn't. Compared to the average American worker of the period the 10 day clause was an advantage for the average ballplayer. If you polled players into the 1960s I would guess that most supported the reserve clause because of the security it afforded them.

    I think comparing ballplayers to slaves is an insult to people who really were slaves.
    I just cannot express how much we disagree on this issue. Maybe good people of intelligence can disagree with respect on some issues. And I suspect the labor issues to be one such issue. I respect your baseball opinions but even friends can disagree on occasion without rancor.

    I am making efforts not to get worked up on these things anymore. Walter Johnson once referred to baseball contracts in his day as 'baseball slavery'. Just remember. It was never smart or astute to disagree with your employer too vociferously or for the record. Just like today. Doesn't pay to win battles with the boss.

  2. #102
    We can't say what every single player felt, but through their union they spoke out in defense of the reserve clause during the 1950's, and I don't think there were many objections from individuals. Like most baseball men, they thought the elimination of reserve rights would mean "the end of baseball as we know it." Events have shown that this expectation was perhaps somewhat exaggerated, but can anybody consider the enormous dislocations, instability and tumult since the Messersmith decision and say it was completely mistaken?

    But the ten-day clause was certainly not a benefit to individual players. It did guarantee the player a week and a half's severance pay if he were released, but at the same time it granted the club the right to terminate on a week and a half's notice the same contract that bound the player for an entire season, or for three seasons in the case of a contract such as the one Jackson signed in 1920. The ten-day clause did not provide the least bit of security for players, except in the sense that one might take the broad and speculative view (as most baseball people in fact did) that the system embodied in the standard contract was necessary to preserve the stability of the baseball world, enable weaker clubs to survive and thereby provide employment to many of the players, whatever the inconvenience or outright harm might come to particular players in individual cases. With the ten-day clause removed the standard contract would become something rather more like a real contract, that is, a document granting rights and imposing responsibilities on both sides, instead of giving practically all the rights to the clubs.

    The baseball contract has almost always proven impossible to enforce legally, and there are several reasons for this, but one is that the the ten-day clause in combination with the reserve clause made the document so one-sided ("lacking in mutuality" is the legal term) that the courts literally would not regard it as a contract at all. When the Giants went to court to stop John Ward from disregarding the reserve clause and jumping to the Players League in 1890, the judge hearing the court remarked:

    "We have the spectacle presented of a contract which binds one part for a series of years and the other party for ten days."

    The Giants were denied injunctions against Ward and Buck Ewing, and so it has gone almost every other time a club's contract right to a particular player has been brought up in court.

    Binding one side for life and the other for a week and a half, imposed as a standard document upon the players without any negotiation as to its form, the standard baseball contract with the ten-day and reserve clauses intact was in fact not a contract, a document that could be enforced in court. It was the embodiment of an agreement among the clubs that, first, they would each give up their own legal right to contract with respect to at least fifteen-sixteenths of the number of professional players of any value at a given time; and, second, they would ignore the right to contract of every one of the players.
    “Money, money, money; that is the article I am looking after now more than anything else. It is the only thing that will shape my course (‘religion is nowhere’).” - Ross Barnes

  3. #103
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    The standard baseball contract, in the early part of the 20th century, was so one-sided, so legally flimsy, that the owners themselves were terrified of it. They understood only too well that that it was completely one-sided, and that the judicial sytem, and by that I refer to the judges across the land, would have loved nothing more than to get their 'judicial hands' on it.

    And all the owners had legal counsel that must have advised them of that fact. So, consequently, the owners lived in mortal dread of their standard contracts ever coming beforre a judge, ever. They lived in dread for the realization that if those contracts were ever to come before judicial review, they were pre-ordained to fall. The very savvy Ty Cobb knew this and whenever he ran into obstinancy by his owner, Frank Navin, he (Cobb) would let it be known in their private salary negotiations, that he was backed by a block of Georgia lawmakers who were only too willing to introduce legislation to overturn those contracts. They were known as the Georgia block.

    And Navin and every other baseball owner understood that their prized, sacred 'anti-trust' excemption, was also legally precarious.

  4. #104
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    If the contracts were so legally flimsy then why did they hold up almost 100 years?

    People challenged the reserve clause and they lost every single time in the courts.

  5. #105
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ubiquitous View Post
    If the contracts were so legally flimsy then why did they hold up almost 100 years?

    People challenged the reserve clause and they lost every single time in the courts.
    They held up for several reasons.
    1. The players, like in all relatively small markets of highly-specialized workers, were terrified of being black-listed, and unemployed. So, they very rarely sued their employers.
    There were rare exceptions to this general fact, like Joe Jackson in 1924. He had literally nothing left to lose. Most did.

    2. The owners went to great lengths to avoid legal challenges. Whenever Ty Cobb threatened Frank Navin, Navin caved in and gave in to his salary demands.

    You claim the Reserve Clause was challenged, as if that happened often. Do you actually know how many times that happend, formally, in court? I can only remember the Federal League challenge.

    But as I remember it, the Federal League dropped their challenge in 1915, in exchange for concesssions, such as some of their owners were allowed into the major leagues.

    In sum, the reserve clause survived from the 1880's until 1975 precisely because it was challenged so few times. And that scarcity of challenges was due to intimidation of the players, the only people with a vested interest in challenging it.

    The AL dropped their challenge to the reserve clause around 1903, the Federal League dropped their challenge in 1915, and Joe Jackson never challenged the reserve clause. He claimed his team owned him 2 years of his contract.

    Now it's your turn. If the baseball contracts with the reserve clause were so legally sound, how is it they lost every single court action in the 1970's. They lost every single arbitration action they contested. Why was that? If the reserve clause was so legally sound, why isn't it still here today? How could it die? Legally sound principles live on. They survive and are strengthened.
    Last edited by Bill Burgess; 08-30-2011 at 12:42 PM.

  6. #106
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    The FL did not drop their challenge which is why we had a Supreme Court decision on it. Curt Flood also challenged the reserve system and lost.

    You don't need a ton of lawsuits to get case law.
    nd
    Again, if the contracts were legally flimsy the contracts would not have held up for almost 100 years and only be struck down by an arbitrator.

    Now it's your turn. If the baseball contracts with the reserve clause were so legally sound, how is it they lost every single court action in the 1970's.
    What court cases did the owners lose in the 70's?

    After they lost the arbitration case (which wasn't a court case) they took it to court and the courts ruled that arbitration was binding. Which it was. Both sides agreed to arbitration and to accept the findings of the arbiter. Now it can be argued that the Seitz decision was in fact a bad decision or a decision based on wrong conclusions but that is tough luck for the owners.

    2. The owners went to great lengths to avoid legal challenges. Whenever Ty Cobb threatened Frank Navin, Navin caved in and gave in to his salary demands.
    Frank caved in because he wanted Ty Cobb to play for him.

  7. #107
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ubiquitous View Post
    The FL did not drop their challenge which is why we had a Supreme Court decision on it. Curt Flood also challenged the reserve system and lost.

    You don't need a ton of lawsuits to get case law.
    nd
    Again, if the contracts were legally flimsy the contracts would not have held up for almost 100 years and only be struck down by an arbitrator.



    What court cases did the owners lose in the 70's?

    After they lost the arbitration case (which wasn't a court case) they took it to court and the courts ruled that arbitration was binding. Which it was. Both sides agreed to arbitration and to accept the findings of the arbiter. Now it can be argued that the Seitz decision was in fact a bad decision or a decision based on wrong conclusions but that is tough luck for the owners.



    Frank caved in because he wanted Ty Cobb to play for him.
    As I remember the Federal League case, wasn't it Judge Ken Landis who screwed the Feds by taking their lawsuit and pocketing it, thereby ending it.
    And then, the two parties agreed to end the FL and some of their owners were accepted into the major leagues?

    That doesn't speak to me of the strength of the baseball contracts or the strength of the reserve clause. Does that impress you with the strength of the BB contracts and the reserve clause? And if so, why?

    Curt Flood lost, but his cause did not lose. His cause was thrown to arbitration, and in arbitration, the reserve clause went down. Forever. Why? Why did it die if it was so sound? You are clever at not answering the question. If it was so sound, why isn't it still here?

    Frank Navin could have simply stood his ground and told Ty Cobb to sign the standard contract at his (Navin's) price. Why did Navin always surrender to Cobb's price? Cobb had no leverage. Cobb threatened Navin with going to court and challenging the reserve clause. Why was that tactic so effective and scare Navin?

    Navin could have had Cobb play at his price. So, why didn't he stand firm on his (Navin's) price? What was Cobb going to do? Leave the game? End his career? Stop avoiding the question. Stop being silly.

  8. #108
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    How do you think we got a Supreme Court ruling on the Federal League case?

    Well, hell, if we are going to say Curt Flood's cause didn't lose then we could also say the FL cause also didn't lose. We simply needed more time. The reserve system survived for a very long time and in order to kill it it took Marvin Miller about a decade or so to manuever the players and the owners into a certain situation that would lead to the reserve clauses demise.

    Cobb most certainly did have leverage. Cobb was an entertainer. He was a gate draw. Without Cobb the Tigers don't draw. Answering your question is not avoiding your question and you really do need to stop getting so personal with people who have discussions with you.

  9. #109
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    From the I understand the reserve clause was not struck down by arbiter Peter Seitz in 1975. The reserve clause states that a team could resign a player for one season if they two parties could not agree to terms on a contract. For decades both owners and players assumed that this clause meant that teams could resign a player over and over. But the players argued that this clause meant that a team could only resign a player once. Peter Seitz agreed with the players. the owners then fired Seitz.
    Last edited by Honus Wagner Rules; 08-30-2011 at 04:19 PM.
    Strikeouts are boring! Besides that, they're fascist. Throw some ground balls - it's more democratic.-Crash Davis

  10. #110
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bill Burgess View Post

    Curt Flood lost, but his cause did not lose. His cause was thrown to arbitration, and in arbitration, the reserve clause went down. Forever. Why? Why did it die if it was so sound? You are clever at not answering the question. If it was so sound, why isn't it still here?
    Bill,,

    That is not what happened. What happened in 1975 with Dave McNally and Andy Messersmith had nothing to do with the Curt Flood case. Here's a great college power point presentation that goes into great detail about Curt Flood and the reserve clause and McNally/Messersmith.

    http://www.google.com/url?sa=t&sourc...ZTRsCw&cad=rja
    .
    Strikeouts are boring! Besides that, they're fascist. Throw some ground balls - it's more democratic.-Crash Davis

  11. #111
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ubiquitous View Post
    How do you think we got a Supreme Court ruling on the Federal League case?

    Well, hell, if we are going to say Curt Flood's cause didn't lose then we could also say the FL cause also didn't lose. We simply needed more time. The reserve system survived for a very long time and in order to kill it it took Marvin Miller about a decade or so to manuever the players and the owners into a certain situation that would lead to the reserve clauses demise.

    Cobb most certainly did have leverage. Cobb was an entertainer. He was a gate draw. Without Cobb the Tigers don't draw. Answering your question is not avoiding your question and you really do need to stop getting so personal with people who have discussions with you.
    Where have I gotten personal? Because I do not feel that involved. I'm just having a discussion.

    But for the third time, if the reserve clause was so legally sound, why is it not still here? Marvin Miller was only one person. How could he have killed a legal principle if all the players supported it.

    You sound as if you're defending the reserve clause. You ask how it survived so long if it was so 'legally flimsy'.

    Other people wonder how it survived so long, when it was so legally one-sided.

    But I'm still waiting to hear why the reserve clause isn't still with us. In fact, why was no other profession embrasing such a good, fair and sound legal concept?

    I am not defending it. In fact, I have said many times it was one of the worst things ever to happen to baseball. And many others have agreed with me.

    But if you liked it, saw nothing wrong with it, and miss it, that's fine.

    When people identify with workers' rights, they criticize those things management did in the past to give themselves advantages.

    When people identify with managements' rights, they criticize those things workers did in the past to give themselves advantages.

    We all have the right to think what we think. I'm just having a dispassionate conversation with an old friend, and we sound like we disagree.

    I just don't see your point in defending a legal clause that has been discredited and took a long time to overthrow. It did much harm to player's rights, even if many of them never understood the means of their disempowerment.

    In the aftermath, within 10 years of Free Agency, player salaries multiplied by a multiple of 10, clearly demonstrating the massive loss of their standard of living for 100 years.

    If your point is that the pendelum has swung too far in the direction of player salaries, and present abuse by those professing players' rights, I would agree with you.

    But that doesn't mean the owners didn't abuse their positions until 1975. Unchecked power will corrupt whomever has it, be they owners or be they players.

  12. #112
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    Quote Originally Posted by Honus Wagner Rules View Post
    From the I understand the reserve clause was not struck down by arbiter Peter Seitz in 1975. The reserve clause states that a team could resign a player for one season if they two parties could not agree to terms on a contract. For decades both owners and players assumed that this clause meant that teams could resign a player over and over. But the players argued that this clause meant that a team could only resign a player once. Peter Seitz agreed with the players. the owners then fired Seitz.
    Basically the Seitz decision forced the owners to come to the table and negotiate free agency. If they hadn't then at most a team could control a player for two years. Technically we still have the reserve system it just doesn't last forever.

  13. #113
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bill Burgess View Post
    Where have I gotten personal? Because I do not feel that involved. I'm just having a discussion.
    Then you should refrain from saying things like "stop being silly".

    But for the third time, if the reserve clause was so legally sound, why is it not still here? Marvin Miller was only one person. How could he have killed a legal principle if all the players supported it.
    One thing doesn't have anything to do with the other.

    You sound as if you're defending the reserve clause. You ask how it survived so long if it was so 'legally flimsy'.
    I'm disputing your assertions that it was legally flimsy and that judges were chomping at the bit to take it apart. Neither statement is based on fact or reality it is simply your opinion.

    Other people wonder how it survived so long, when it was so legally one-sided.
    It doesn't matter if it is "legally one-sided".

    But I'm still waiting to hear why the reserve clause isn't still with us. In fact, why was no other profession embrasing such a good, fair and sound legal concept?
    The reserve clause is still with us, they simply modified it which is their right. But again I've already explained it. They took the issue to arbitration and the arbitrator ruled in favor of the players. The owners and players then negotiated (after a couple of court cases about whether or not the issue should have even gone to an arbitrator) a CBA in which both parties agreed on free agency. As far as I can tell every single professional team sport was in fact modeling their system after baseball.

    I am not defending it. In fact, I have said many times it was one of the worst things ever to happen to baseball. And many others have agreed with me.
    Which is fine but that has nothing to do with whether or not it was legally flimsy and judges were itching to get the issue in front of them.


    In the aftermath, within 10 years of Free Agency, player salaries multiplied by a multiple of 10, clearly demonstrating the massive loss of their standard of living for 100 years.
    It doesn't clearly show that since salaries were accelerating before FA. Salaries went up because revenue exploded.


    But that doesn't mean the owners didn't abuse their positions until 1975. Unchecked power will corrupt whomever has it, be they owners or be they players.
    Whether they abused their position or not has no bearing on whether or not the reserve clause was legally flimsy and whether or not judges wanted to hear these case so they could overturn the system.

  14. #114
    It's a mistake to think of the full-roster, unrestricted reserve clause in terms of legal validity, because it had none. It was generally a success for the clubs because they held together and acknowledged each others' rights to reserve their players. Legal validity had nothing at all to do with it, and in fact the reserve worked quite effectively at times without being expressed in the player contract at all.

    To cite the most striking example that comes to mind, in 1892 most of the NL clubs released all their players in midseason so they could impose new contracts with lower salaries on them. (I hate to think what Bill Burgess would have had to say if he'd been around to see that!) The players were not just free of the reserve clause, they were not under contract at all, having been released "unconditionally," yet for all practical purposes they remained reserved, simply because the clubs had agreed that nobody would sign anybody else's players.

    On the other hand, when clubs outside the system disregarded the established teams' reserve rights and signed reserved players, the established clubs had no effective recourse at law. The Giants tried to enjoin John Ward and Buck Ewing from disregarding the reserve clause in 1890 and got firmly slapped down twice. After that, I don't think anybody even tried -- certainly not many clubs did.

    We'll all agree that the Federal League was not a great success in competing for talent with the NL and AL, but they did sign a significant number of players. If you count minor leaguers, who were bound by the same reserve clause as major league players, the number would rise substantially. How many players were prevented from jumping to the Feds because their old teams went to court and got injunctions enforcing the reserve clause? How many of the established teams even tried to do that?
    “Money, money, money; that is the article I am looking after now more than anything else. It is the only thing that will shape my course (‘religion is nowhere’).” - Ross Barnes

  15. #115
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    Quote Originally Posted by Beady View Post

    To cite the most striking example that comes to mind, in 1892 most of the NL clubs released all their players in midseason so they could impose new contracts with lower salaries on them. (I hate to think what Bill Burgess would have had to say if he'd been around to see that!) The players were not just free of the reserve clause, they were not under contract at all, having been released "unconditionally," yet for all practical purposes they remained reserved, simply because the clubs had agreed that nobody would sign anybody else's players.
    The same thing happened at the end of the 1918 season when every Major Leaguer was given an unconditional release because the game was being shut down for the duration of WWI. The 10 day clause was probably enacted in late August, 1918 because I don't think any player was paid for September, 1918. When the game started back up in 1919 the owners entered a gentlemens agreement to respect the Reserve Clause and not poach players from other teams.

  16. #116
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    I have brought up many issues, but the one which you seem to desire to dispute is whether or not baseball's infamous reserve clause was 'flimsy' or not. That seems to be the one point that bothers you enough to discuss.
    And that's alright with me. I will discuss most things that feel wrong to me.

    I use the word 'flimsy', which seems to bother you, because it was so lop-sided. You claim that lop-sided has nothing to do with being, 'flimsy'. I find that curious, but so be it. We can discuss it civilly. And please realize, Ubi, that I am not taking this conversation personally. It's just another baseball discussion to me.

    For you to assert that baseball's reserve clause was 'not flimsy', is to suggest you are saying it was 'substantial', which is the opposite of 'flimsy'. And we are only discussing in the legal sense.

    To suggest that just because something like the reserve clause was 'substantial', just because it survived for 100 years is not a sound argument. There can be several reasons why a lop-sided, unsound, flimsy legal clause survived 100 years. And none of them would be admirable or enobling.

    One reason an unsound legal principle might survive a long time was the nature of power. When a relatively small group of people have power, they seldom give it up voluntarily. They might impose great harm on others, do damage to their interests, and hold back the natural evolution of human rights, social equality, etc., only to serve the interests of the power holders, at the expense of a large majority of society's other persons.

    I am using the adjective, 'flimsy', here as an example of an unsound, unbalanced legal principle. Such a principle, in my opinion, was baseball's 'reserve clause'. It is the nature of power that it doesn't exist in a vacuum. It exists in a condition where it serves some relatively few people, such as the powerful people. They normally exist in alliance with other powerful people. Persons entrenched in power normally ally with each other, in the attempt to keep that power in the hands of the fewest possible people.

    Societies dominant groups are natural allies. They form coalitions to retain that power, and create dynasties of societies dominant, powerful families. In the past, they were from northern Euprope, and were light-skinned. They got into manufacturing, politics, weapons-making, etc. They tried as hard as they could, for as long as they could to hold down and suppress the natural yearing for a rising living standards of blacks, women, gays, dark-skinned peoples from southern Euprope, Asia and South American, Mexico, etc.

    But, slowly but surely, the less-dominant social groups used every means they could to make inroads into the upper social levels. Sports, entertainment, labor laws, civil rights laws, environmental laws, consumer products legislation, etc. The disenfranchised social groups fought tooth and nail, and clawed their way up the social ladder, and had to fight the powerful for every single inch of progress.

    Baseball's reserve clause was only one small part of the management's countless tools to hold down the natural desire of the have-nots to achieve a rising living standard. A much more odious tool of the powerful was use of racism to contain the aspirations of the majority. They went hand in hand.

    Those types of persons who defend managements rights to control the have-nots normally defend Walter O'Malley's moving the Brooklyn Dodgers to the West. They normally recite the usual routine. He was only exercising his rights as a businessman to make a profit. The team belonged not to the fans but to the mogul. He did nothing wrong. Same thing with the owners controlling the players with the reserve clause.

    When one identifies with management, no management tool is too bad. But to those who identify with the desire of the world's masses, who have so little, such arguments are painful.

    I've rambled too far off course. I'll stop here in case there is anything you'd like to say. To clarify your reasons to defend the reserve clause. To say it wasn't flimsy, is indeed to defend it. You can't get around it.

  17. #117
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    Quote Originally Posted by Beady View Post
    It's a mistake to think of the full-roster, unrestricted reserve clause in terms of legal validity, because it had none. It was generally a success for the clubs because they held together and acknowledged each others' rights to reserve their players. Legal validity had nothing at all to do with it, and in fact the reserve worked quite effectively at times without being expressed in the player contract at all.

    To cite the most striking example that comes to mind, in 1892 most of the NL clubs released all their players in midseason so they could impose new contracts with lower salaries on them. (I hate to think what Bill Burgess would have had to say if he'd been around to see that!) The players were not just free of the reserve clause, they were not under contract at all, having been released "unconditionally," yet for all practical purposes they remained reserved, simply because the clubs had agreed that nobody would sign anybody else's players.

    On the other hand, when clubs outside the system disregarded the established teams' reserve rights and signed reserved players, the established clubs had no effective recourse at law. The Giants tried to enjoin John Ward and Buck Ewing from disregarding the reserve clause in 1890 and got firmly slapped down twice. After that, I don't think anybody even tried -- certainly not many clubs did.

    We'll all agree that the Federal League was not a great success in competing for talent with the NL and AL, but they did sign a significant number of players. If you count minor leaguers, who were bound by the same reserve clause as major league players, the number would rise substantially. How many players were prevented from jumping to the Feds because their old teams went to court and got injunctions enforcing the reserve clause? How many of the established teams even tried to do that?
    This is true. The reserve clause operated in the real world much like the unwritten Color Ban. Neither needed a written clause. If they had abolished the reserve clause from player contracts from 1900 on, it might not have meant anything different would have happened.

    As sports writer Grantland Rice was fond of saying, baseball's Color Line was not a written agreement. And even if it had been, it wouldn't have mattered. The owners had a 'Gentleman's Agreement' not to hire blacks at the major or minor league levels. They also would have agreed not to hire each other's players without a written reserve clause.

    The real battle was much more profound than that. It laid in the hearts of men. If men are determined to do the wrong thing, laws and rules do not govern them. They do what they choose to do.

    The fact that there was a written reserve clause was merely an indication that the rich owners were determined to do a certain course of action, to assure that they remained rich. A free-for all attempt to sign whomever they could felt too risky for them, the result too uncertain. Most rich men dislike risk and uncertainty. Two or three rich owners had less power than the combined other 13 owners. So, they avoided the risky unregulated bidding environment of a free market of baseball players as long as they could.

  18. #118
    I took "flimsy" and "substantial" to mean that the reserve clause was more or less vulnerable to challenge in court as a limitation on the player's freedom of contract, and I was pointing out that it never really operated that way and didn't really need to be subjected to fundamental attack on that ground, precisely because no court would even begin to enforce it. The reserve clause never did any player harm, because it never prevented any player from signing with any team willing to hire him, provided he could actually find somebody willing to hire him. Conversely, baseball's labor regime could be and sometimes actually was carried out without need for any contractual basis.

    Of course, if I have to choose between "flimsy" and "substantial," then I'd have no choice but to agree the classical reserve clause was flimsy, and I mean flimsy with extreme prejudice.

    I don't know whether the reserve clause remained in contracts for some specific reason or just out of inertia, but the owners originally put it only because the players themselves asked for it. This is the exact and very strange truth. In the fall of 1887 representatives of the Players Brotherhood led by Brotherhood president John Ward successfully demanded that the National League agree to certain revisions in the standard player contract, and one was that the club's right to reserve players be embodied in that contract.

    Prior to that, the reserve system had existed simply as a rule in the clubs' National Agreement allowing each club to submit a list of players who would be off limits to everybody else. There was no need to mention this in the player contract because, in a certain sense, it really didn't concern the player but was a private agreement among the club management. The clubs would no doubt have been perfectly happy for many years to continue on that basis.

    The players' position was that the reserve rule certainly did concern them, and they wanted all their rights, responsibilities and contractual disabilities spelled out in full in the contract, so they would not be utterly and entirely at the mercy of whatever changes the clubs might make. In this way John Ward is in the paradoxical position of being the father of the reserve clause.
    “Money, money, money; that is the article I am looking after now more than anything else. It is the only thing that will shape my course (‘religion is nowhere’).” - Ross Barnes

  19. #119
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    I want to apologize to Ubi, Beady and anyone else who I might have offended by my tone. Sometimes in these little discussions, I get too pointed and if so, I certainly don't want to insult any of our good members. When I said, "Stop being silly." to Ubi, I was not trying to give offense in any way. I often am confused when someone 'sounds' as if they are defending something that I find morally objectionable.

    Perhaps Ubi wasn't defending the reserve clause and disliked it as much as I, but was merely taking a devil's advocate position that anything that survives that long legally, must not be flimsy in the legal sense.

    Since I consider the reserve clause to have been a morally-despicable piece of labor law, that happened to survive 100 years due to the Laws of Inertia, as applied to the powerful interests over the weak, I naturally took exception to it sounding as if it was being defended, when maybe it wasn't.

    Oft-times, a morally bankrupt legal piece might survive, merely because the good guys can't muster the political clout to kill it. I put the reserve clause in the same category as slavery. Slavery in America survived from around 1500 to 1864, when President Lincoln finally abolished it by the Emancipation Proclamation. That is around 364 years! I claim it was legally-flimsy, despite the American Supreme Court endorsing it in ? in the Dred Scott Decision. That only proves that an indefensible piece of law can survive without the slightest foundation of morality or good law to underlie it.

    That is the only thing I was trying to say. Legally flimsy things can survive a long time if the good guys lack the political clout to kill it and put it out of its misery. Prohibition and the anti-drug laws might be other legal skunks, as well as laws against prostitution. Many laws are ridiculous but it takes the right moment in history before they die. History is full of terrible laws. Laws where religion required human sacrifice, laws entrenching titles giving people privileges by birth status, laws allowing royalty, kings, queens, monarchies, laws entrenching state religions, loyalty oaths, and hundreds more.

    All that is needed for terrible things to happen is for good people to do nothing. Freedom is not free. Rights require eternal vigilance.

  20. #120
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bill Burgess View Post
    Oft-times, a morally bankrupt legal piece might survive, merely because the good guys can't muster the political clout to kill it. I put the reserve clause in the same category as slavery. Slavery in America survived from around 1500 to 1864, when President Lincoln finally abolished it by the Emancipation Proclamation. That is around 364 years! I claim it was legally-flimsy, despite the American Supreme Court endorsing it in ? in the Dred Scott Decision. That only proves that an indefensible piece of law can survive without the slightest foundation of morality or good law to underlie it.

    .
    Slavery wasn't abolished by the Emancipation Proclamation. It was abolished by the 13th amendment.

  21. #121
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    The Emancipation Proclamation was issued in 1862, not 1864, and as Ed has pointed out above, it didn't really abolish anything.
    And I think it's somewhat melodramatic to put the Reserve Clause in the same category as slavery. Ballplayers bound by the Reserve Clause at least had the option of retiring and doing something else for a living.
    "Tactics were resorted to, unworthy of fair, manly players" - Brooklyn Eagle, June 12,1890

  22. #122
    Mighty fancy wordsmithing by some of the above but common sense will tell you that the reserve clause was baseball slavery set up by the good ol'boys club, which also increased gambling activity.

    If you think different just take a few strides in the players shoes.


    "If I hear Bowie Kuhn say just once more he's doing something for the betterment of baseball, I'm going to throw-up.">Sparky Anderson

  23. #123
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    Quote Originally Posted by ol' aches and pains View Post
    The Emancipation Proclamation was issued in 1862, not 1864, and as Ed has pointed out above, it didn't really abolish anything.
    And I think it's somewhat melodramatic to put the Reserve Clause in the same category as slavery. Ballplayers bound by the Reserve Clause at least had the option of retiring and doing something else for a living.
    Yeah, I am being melodramatic, but I have a good reason. I am often over-dramatic because I don't know any other way to get your attention. So, I dramatize my points to make them obvious. I try my best to make my points obvious, like comparing the baseball slavery embodied in the 'reserve clause', to classical slavery, because otherwise, my subtleties might go sailing way over your heads.

    To suggest a person who invests many years honing their athletic skills to leave their profession in search of another field, where they have no skills, is not really a rational approach to a problem.

    Let's say a young man starts playing the game of baseball at an early age, like Babe Ruth, Ty Cobb and Honus Wagner. They all started playing ball around the age of 10-12 years old. They all played against older kids. They kept playing, practicing and getting better and better until they finally came to the attention of baseball scouts or others. They all started making money playing ball around the age of 17.

    Why should someone who has invested over 10 years of their early formative years honing their skills have to walk away with 10 wasted years, just because some overly-greedy suits want to restrict and control a very small market of highly-skilled athletes, for their personal avarice and building a family dynasty?

    Wouldn't it make much more sense to force those 16 individual owners to compete and bid for the services of those highly-specialized athletes in the normal business manner that all the other American businesses had to do? Why grant baseball an exemption from the National Sherman Anti-Trust Law? What good came from that exemption? It drastically harmed the interests of the players and their families, while allowing the families of the 16 team owners to live far, far higher than normal, business practices should have allowed them.

    Make no mistake. Those 16 owners lived much, much better than the average American family ever dreamed of. The apologists for management never tire of telling us that the baseball players live far better than their counterparts. As well they should have. Highly trained persons in any other profession also lived much better. So, why shouldn't a trained athlete make more money and live better, too?

    Star players lived much better than average people, but so did the other trained professionals like doctors, dentists, lawyers, engineers, bankers and architects. Specialists should live better. They invested their time and efforts, too, just like the other specialists.

    Seems like the best course would be to make the baseball moguls have to live with the same rules as the other business moguls.
    Last edited by Bill Burgess; 08-31-2011 at 09:51 PM.

  24. #124
    The winners and losers under the traditional unrestricted reserve regime were not "clubs" and "players" respectively. Players got less money and had little freedom of action, certainly, but free-spending clubs such as Comiskey's White Sox circa 1915 were not really winners.

    Whatever money Comiskey saved on Jackson's salary had to be discounted by the very large payment he had to make to purchase the rights to Jackson's contract from Cleveland. As a general proposition, an owner like Comiskey would probably have been better off dealing directly to Jackson on an open labor market, rather than having to negotiate a large sales price in a single, very large and risky payment to Charles Somers at the time he bought Jackson.

    More generally, any club like Comiskey's that was in a buying mood would benefit from a fluid labor market, the more fluid the better. The unrestricted reserve regime tightened up the labor market greatly and therefore was not at all conducive to Charlie Comiskey's best interests.

    The real beneficiaries of the unrestricted reserve system were not "moguls" or the "rich owners" or "greedy suits" or "dominant social groups," but the poor clubs that were scuffling to stay alive, and we shouldn't allow rhetoric to obscure the fact that baseball was not a very profitable industry through most of its history. The reserve clause enabled poor clubs to keep their heads above water by converting good players from unaffordably large items on the payroll into objects of property that could be sold to meet current expenses. This was the basic business plan on which many clubs operated for years and decades, especially in the minor league but also teams like the Browns and Phillies in the majors.

    The argument, therefore, was that the unrestricted reserve regime was necessary to provide the support that would prevent weak clubs from being killed off in competition with strong ones. And the specific argument considering the question from the standpoint of the players was that, whatever immediate hardship individual players might suffer in particular cases, in the long run it served the interests of players at large that there be a stable baseball world inhabited by a large number of financially solvent employers, and only the reserve system could provide this.

    Of course, as powerful clubs and poor ones had and still have different interests, so some players gained and would have gained more than others. Because their services would have been in very great demand, the Cobbs and Jacksons and Collins of the world would have been able to exploit free agency far more effectively than the likes of Ed Klepfer or Bird Lynn, for whom there would have been much weaker demand. Conversely, if the elimination of the reserve system had resulted in salary competition had reduced the major leagues to, say, eight large market clubs and pruned the minors back even more radically, Joe Jackson would still have found a high-paying employer. But it would have ended the careers of players like Lynn and Klepfer.

    Therefore, the reserve clause did not simply pit the interests of owners at large against players at large. Instead, it asked sacrifices of a small number of the more fortunate and prosperous players and owners -- those who could best afford those sacrifices -- in the interest of less fortunate members of both groups, and of the baseball world as a whole.

    As to why the unrestricted reserve regime is not still with us, the answer is simple, if not very interesting or significant. Baseball's system of managing labor relations changed because the world had changed. It doesn't mean the reserve system might not have been perfectly appropriate to its times.

    That's the argument; I'm not saying I entirely buy it, but it was accepted by a great many people for many years, and I certainly do think it deserves to be taken seriously.
    “Money, money, money; that is the article I am looking after now more than anything else. It is the only thing that will shape my course (‘religion is nowhere’).” - Ross Barnes

  25. #125
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    I hear you Beady, my friend. I suppose it goes without saying that every bad thing has some good in it. There are probably few bad things that can't be shown to have helped some people. So, I am going to try a different tact, to show how strangely weird the reserve system in baseball really was.

    But all hypothetical examples have inperfections, and mine will too. Let's say that today, you received a letter from your boss that said he had sold you to another company for $15,000. because his competitor had seen your potential, and your boss wasn't really that interested in keeping you on. And further more, you had no voice in the sale, and your options were to go along with the deal, or find another profession. And you were not going to get any of the sale money. And to add icing on the cake, you had to accept whatever salary was offered to you or find another profession?

    Would you feel like property? To prevent you from feeling like a commodity, they said they sold 'your contract'. And you were not allowed to shop your services to any other company in your field.

    That's the weird world of the reserve clause. Strange, weird, and only existed in baseball. Not even Rockefeller or Carnegie had those dictatorial powers. Only the 16 men who ruled baseball.

    What would you say if you got a letter like that, Beady? Just curious.
    Last edited by Bill Burgess; 09-01-2011 at 01:13 AM.

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