Federal League Baseball Club of Baltimore v. National League et al.
Roger Ian Abrams
Northeastern University - School of Law
June 6, 2013
Leading Cases in Sports Law, Jack Anderson, ed., T.M.C. Asser Instituut, 2013
Northeastern University School of Law Research Paper No. 145-2013
In Federal League Baseball Club of Baltimore v. National League (1922), the Supreme Court unanimously ruled that Major League Baseball did not affect interstate commerce, an astounding decision even at the time. As a result, the restrictive baseball reserve system, which bound a ballplayer to his club for his entire work life at salary unilaterally determined by his employer, was held not cognizable under the federal antitrust laws. This chapter explains the origins of the decision in the economic battle between Organized Baseball and the rival Federal League and the arguments made by the parties in their briefs submitted to the Court. It then explores Justice Holmes’ decision which continues to remain the law, but only in the business of baseball.
Date posted: June 7, 2013