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Baseball (a Game of Yesterday and a Business of Today)

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Baseball (a Game of Yesterday and a Business of Today)

Baseball: The American Pastime

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April 14, 2008

Table of Contents


Labor Battles in the Modern Era

Steroid Abuse

Steroid Punishments

Costs of Baseball

Stadium Cost

Does it Pay to Build


Work Cited


Figure 1 Steroid Suspension 2005 Regular Season


Baseball is still America’s pastime. From the mid 1800’s when it was invented, America has been fascinating people of all ages.

Americans began playing baseball on informal teams, using local rules. By the 1860s, the sport, unrivaled in popularity, was being described as Americas “national pastime.” Alexander Joy Cartwright of New York invented the modern baseball field in 1845. Alexander Cartwright and the members of his New York Knickerbocker Base Ball Club devised the first rules and regulations for the modern game of baseball.

Baseball was based on the English game of rounders. Rounders becomes popular in the United States in the early 19th century, where the game was called took up a couple of name, one of which was basball. Cartwright formalized the modern rules of baseball. The first recorded baseball game was held in 1846 when Alexander Cartwright’s Knickerbockers lost to the New York Baseball Club. The game was held at the Elysian Fields, in Hoboken, New Jersey. From then on the sport has turned into a multi million dollar industry that America has continued to cherish.

Labor Battles in the Modern Era

Professional baseball players had organized with commissioners several times in baseball history, but they were never able to make the advances that unions in other industries had won for their members. The Major League Baseball Players Association had been around for more than thirty years, but its sole purpose had been to collect and administer a meager pension. Concerned about getting a piece of growing television revenues, the players sought to strengthen their union in 1965.

They hired Marvin Miller, a veteran labor organizer who had fought for the United Steelworkers union for years. He knew there was more at stake than adding broadcasting money to the pension fund. When Miller came on board and saw what the conditions were, he knew much more was at stake.

For one thing, the minimum salary was $6,000, just a thousand dollars more than it had been in 1947 (Young). As he began to collect data, the players were surprised at how poorly they were being paid. This education paved the way for the first collective bargaining agreement in 1968. It provided some modest improvements, but most importantly it gave the players some leverage. For nearly a hundred years, team owners had a “take it or leave it” relationship with players. The union could (and did) file complaints with the National Labor Relations Board when players were treated unfairly. Players also won the right to have their grievances heard before an independent arbitrator.

There had been a brief player’s strike at the start of the 1972 season, which delayed the start of the season by 13 days. Delay was much more serious and little negotiation took place. After 50 days, the owners relented and agreed to a modified compensation plan.

In 1985, the players struck again. The owners had hoped that salary arbitration would help keep salaries down, but it propelled them through the roof. The owners wanted to change it: the players rejected it. After two days, the owners relented and the players came back.

Prior disputes set the stage for the worst battle of all. In 1992, the owners forced Commissioner Faye Vincent to resign. The labor contract was about to expire, and they didn’t want him to interfere in negotiations. Turns out they didn’t want any negotiations either. Their had been a strike or a lockout every time the collective bargaining agreement expired, and the players didn’t want to go through that again. They started the 1994 season without

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