Some brief baseball messages for your Memorial Day weekend.
May 29, 1922 – Supreme Court: One hundred years ago today, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that Major League Baseball was exempt from antitrust laws. Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes (below), speaking for a unanimous court, held that baseball was not involved in interstate commerce (what?) and therefore not subject to Federal antitrust laws. Baseball was a sport, not a business!
In later cases, the Supreme Court has conceded the lack of logic in saying baseball was the only professional sport entitled to this exemption. But the monopoly for the American and National Leagues remains in effect. This has protected MLB from any competition of the kind that the NFL and NBA have had. The AFL and ABA were able to succeed in football and basketball, giving them leverage to later merge with the older leagues.
Congress on occasion has considered removing MLB’s judicial exemption, but usually as a threat for another purpose. After Charlie Finley moved the A’s to Oakland, Missouri Senator Stuart Symington threatened to file legislation if MLB did not agree to quickly grant Kansas City an expansion team. MLB moved quickly. Senator Bernie Sanders has been unhappy with how MLB handled its minor league affiliates and with the 2021/2022 lockout. He introduced legislation in March of this year, saying “I think the time is now when these billionaires should start paying attention to the needs of the fans and the people of this country, rather than just the bottom line.” With the lockout over, I’m guessing this fades away.
Below, Sanders taking batting practice while meeting with minor leaguers in December of 2019.
May 29, 1962 – Buck O’Neil: On this date in 1962, Buck O’Neil became the first Black coach in Major League Baseball. The Negro Leagues Baseball Museum tweeted this info today and included a nice 2-minute video (click here).
Fast forward 60 years – Buck O’Neil is voted into the Hall of Fame, as chronicled in Hot Stove #179.
This Joe Posnanski book about Buck is the segue to the next section.
May 29, 2022 – Shoe: Today, the cartoon strip Shoe ran these panels featuring Treetops Books:
As seen in this closeup of the book titles, Buck O’Neil is there. Lower left, The Soul of Baseball, the wonderful story of a road trip taken by Buck, Joe Posnanski and NLBM President Bob Kendrick.
Continuing counterclockwise from Buck:
Five Seasons by the late Roger Angell who was the subject last week in Hot Stove #192.
Catcher in the Wry by the very funny Bob Uecker, a former catcher who became more well known for his baseball broadcasting and his Miller Lite ads that sent him to the cheap seats (click here). In 2019, Rita and I took a bus tour for MLB games at five stadiums (Hot Stove #102). One of our stops was in Milwaukee at Miller Park where I sat with the Bob Uecker statue in the cheap seats, the last row of the upper deck.
Ball Four by Jim Bouton. When this controversial book was released in 1970, most of the baseball establishment was appalled. Not Roger Angell. He found it to be “a rare view of a highly complex public profession seen from the innermost side…and very likely the funniest book of the year.” Featured in Hot Stove #103.
Wait Till Next Year by Doris Kearns Goodwin. A personal memoir of growing up a Brooklyn Dodgers fan and finally being rewarded with the team’s first World Series win in 1955. One of my favorites (featured in Hot Stove #55).
The Baseball 100 by Joe Posnanski. I’m guessing this was the best-selling baseball book over the last year. Featured in Hot Stove #180 (“Inside The Baseball 100”).
Boys of Summer by Roger Kahn. A loving look at the Dodgers while they were still in Brooklyn.
Joe DiMaggio by ?. It’s not clear if a specific DiMaggio book is intended. Probably the best known book for the Yankee Clipper is Joe DiMaggio: The Hero’s Life by Richard Ben Cramer, and the cover art in the strip is similar.
If you are looking for baseball books to read this summer, the selections in the SPORTS section at Treetops Books are some of the best.
Lonnie’s Jukebox – Roger Angell Edition: My tribute to Roger Angell in the last Hot Stove did not include a Lonnie’s Jukebox section. But Hot Stove reader Cheryl Dillard gave me an idea for one with her response: “Oh my gosh! What a cool fellow, and a Roy Orbison fan!.” I Googled Angell and Orbison, and saw where Cheryl had picked up this valuable piece of trivia. In the essay “This Old Man,” Angell had written about some of his elderly pleasures in reading, movies, baseball broadcasts, his evening Dewar’s and “the briefest strains of Handel or Roy Orbison, or Dennis Brain playing the early bars of his stunning Mozart horn concertos.”
Roy Orbison also found his way into Tom Verducci’s 2014 article on Angell in Sports Illustrated. This article has one of my favorite quotes about Angell: “What he does with words, even today at 93, is what Mays did in centerfield and what Koufax did on the mound.”
Verducci tells of taking a road trip with Angell to Cooperstown – the 93-year-old doing the driving. Verducci: “In the map pocket in the door next to me are some Angell staples: a paperback Chekhov novel and two CDs, one by Roy Orbison and one titled Martin Scorsese: The Best of the Blues.”
My knowledge about classical music is nil (as would be confirmed by Hot Stove Classical Music Editor Dan Margolies). And most of the classical pieces on YouTube are long, but I did find a couple by Angell’s artists that fit my attention span.
“Music for the Royal Fireworks” by George Fredrick Handel. Composed in 1749. I wonder if this will be played during the fireworks at the Memorial Day concerts.
“Mozart Horn Concerto” by Dennis Brain.
Next, we go to Angell’s CD with the “Best of the Blues.” This is a companion box set to Martin Scorsese’s PBS documentary series The Blues. I’ll go with tracks from two of my favorite artists:
“Blue Monday” by Fats Domino.
“Johnny B. Goode” by Chuck Berry.
And now, clearly a big Roger Angell favorite, Roy Orbison…
“Only the Lonely” by Roy Orbison.
“Pretty Woman” by Roy Orbison.
Thank you Roger. Again.