Supreme Court Sluggers: James Iredell

Journal of Law, Vol. 4, (Journal of Legal Metrics, Vol. 3), pp. 169-181, 2014

George Mason Law & Economics Research Paper No. 14-40

14 Pages Posted: 2 Sep 2014 Last revised: 3 Sep 2014

See all articles by Ross E. Davies

Ross E. Davies

George Mason University - Antonin Scalia Law School; The Green Bag

Date Written: August 31, 2014


The Supreme Court existed for about a dozen years before John Marshall became Chief Justice in 1801. Until recently, in some instances quite recently, scholars tended to neglect those early years and the judges who served on the Court during them. That is why Supreme Court Sluggers cards of the early Court are good vehicles for saluting – if only partially and imperfectly – some great baseball players who also were neglected until recently (and who suffered treatment worse than neglect in their playing days). Sluggers cards of the original pre-Marshall Court – Chief Justice John Jay and Justices John Rutledge, William Cushing, James Wilson, John Blair, and James Iredell – will be based on negro league stars who were denied (for most of their careers, at least) opportunities to play in the major leagues due to race discrimination. The first Sluggers card of a member of the founding-era Court – the card featured in this little article – portrays Justice Iredell in the batting stance of longtime Homestead Grays first baseman Walter “Buck” Leonard. (The nickname came courtesy of a young sibling who tried to call him “Buddy” but pronounced it “Bucky,” and it stuck for life as “Buck.”) On the statistical side, the Iredell card reflects another similarity between the early Justices and the players on whom their portraits are modeled: the sources of job performance data are fragmentary (as well as being sometimes hard to parse), at least compared to those for modern Justices and major leaguers.

Keywords: job performance, jury charges, Justice James Iredell, major league baseball, negro league, North Carolina, pre-Marshall Supreme Court, race discrimination, record keeping, separate opinions, state court, statistics, Walter Leonard, Ware v. Hylton

JEL Classification: J71, K41

Suggested Citation

Davies, Ross E., Supreme Court Sluggers: James Iredell (August 31, 2014). Journal of Law, Vol. 4, (Journal of Legal Metrics, Vol. 3), pp. 169-181, 2014 , George Mason Law & Economics Research Paper No. 14-40, Available at SSRN:

Ross E. Davies (Contact Author)

George Mason University - Antonin Scalia Law School ( email )

3301 Fairfax Drive
Arlington, VA 22201
United States

The Green Bag ( email )

6600 Barnaby St., NW
Washington, DC 20015
United States


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