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Little White Book of Baseball Law

November 30, 2011
By Joe Parsio, Head of Access Services
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I’m sorry, but I must admit, I find baseball a bit boring. However I did enjoy John Minan and Kevin Cole’s fun and informative Little White Book of Baseball Law.    If you’ve ever wondered who legally owns Barry Bonds’ record-setting home run ball, the answer is in “the eighth inning.” Each “inning” or chapter is about a specific real case with citations, so you can get more information on Westlaw or LexisNexis. It also has an “umpire’s ruling” at the end of each. 
Besides covering baseball memorabilia ownership, the book also covers new stadium construction, injured spectators and television contracts. Patent law is brought up with cases on safety masks in Thayer v. Spaulding, 27 F. 66 (C.C.D. ILL. 1886); antitrust in Federal Baseball Club of Baltimore, Inc. v. National League of Professional Baseball Clubs, et al., 259 U.S. 200 (1922), as well as Flood v. Kuhn et al., 407 U.S. 258 (1972); and scalping in Lainer v. City of Boston, 95 F. Supp. 2d 17 (D. Mass. 2000).  The sixth inning, “Hey, Beerman!,” Donchez v. Coors Brewing Co., 392 F.3d 1211 (10th Cir. 2004) gives an interesting distinction between service mark and trademark.
There are entries on Barry Bonds, Don Drysdale, Shoeless Joe Jackson and Sammy Sosa and doctored bats. The Phillies are covered in two “innings.” In the case of Flood v. Kuhn et al., 407 U.S. 258 (1972), which is covered in the “fifth inning,” Curt Flood was involuntarily traded by the Cards to the Phillies. He complained to Bowie Kuhn, Commissioner of Baseball, and asked to be made a free agent. When Flood was denied, he argued that his personal freedom was constrained, and he filed an antitrust suit.  The seventeenth inning, focuses on U.S. v. Cleveland Indians Baseball Company, 532 U.S. 200 (2001), where the authors discuss payroll litigation. In the umpire’s ruling, the authors note that the 2008 Yankees, who failed to even make the playoffs, payroll exceeded the combined payroll of the Phillies, World Series winners that year, and the payroll of the Tampa Bay Rays.
The authors, Kevin L. Cole (Penn Law ’83) and John H. Minan, are law professors at the University of San Diego.