In Federal Baseball Club of Baltimore v. National League of Professional Baseball Clubs, 259 U.S. 200
MR. JUSTICE BURTON, with whom MR. JUSTICE REED concurs, dissenting.
Whatever may have been the situation when the Federal Baseball Club case
In 1952 the Subcommittee on Study of Monopoly Power, of the House of Representatives Committee on the Judiciary, after extended hearings, issued a report dealing with organized baseball in relation to the Sherman Act. In that report it said:
That the Court realized that the then incidental interstate features of organized baseball might rise to a magnitude that would compel recognition of them independently is indicated by the statement made in 1923 by Mr. Justice Holmes, the writer of the Court's opinion in the Federal Baseball Club case. In 1923, in considering a bill in equity alleging a violation of the Sherman Act by parties presenting local exhibitions on an interstate vaudeville circuit, the Court held that the bill should be considered on its merits and, in writing for the Court,
The 1952 report of the Congressional Subcommittee previously mentioned also said:
Conceding the major asset which baseball is to our Nation, the high place it enjoys in the hearts of our people and the possible justification of special treatment for organized sports which are engaged in interstate trade or commerce, the authorization of such treatment is a matter within the discretion of Congress.
"The primary sources of revenue for baseball clubs are admissions, radio and television, and concessions. The following table indicates the combined revenue of the 16 major-league clubs from these sources for the years 1929, 1939, and 1950.
"Major league revenue
"[In thousands of dollars]
_____________________________________________________________________ "Source of revenue 1929
11939 1950 _____________________________________________________________________ Home games.................... 6,559.1 6,766.6 18,334.8 Road games.................... 2,221.4 2,320.2 4,517.8 Exhibition games.............. 422.6 515.7 911.5 Radio and television.......... 0 884.5 3,365.5 Concessions (net)............. 582.8 850.3 2,936.3 Other ........................ 733.4 776.0 1,969.6 ______________________________________ Gross receipts........... 10,519.5 12,113.3 32,035.5 _____________________________________________________________________ "1Data unavailable for 2 clubs: Chicago, American League; and Pittsburgh, National League. . . . . . "The fastest-growing source of revenue for major league clubs is radio and television. Receipts from these media of interstate commerce were nonexistent in 1929. In 1939, 7.3 percent of the clubs' revenue came from this source; and in 1950, this share rose to 10.5 percent. "Portrayed in absolute terms, the growing importance of radio and television becomes even more pronounced. Receipts rose from nothing in 1929 to $884,500 in 1939 and $3,365,500 in 1950. Reported income from primary radio and television contracts for 1951 indicate that this sharp increase is continuing. . . . To this must be added $110,000 for the sale of radio and television rights to the 1951 all-star game and $1,075,000 for the sale of similar rights to the 1951 world series." Id., at 5-6.
"Four bills have been introduced in the Congress, three in the House, one in the Senate, intending to give baseball and all other professional sports a complete and unlimited immunity from the antitrust laws. The requested exemption would extend to all professional sports enterprises and to all acts in the conduct of such enterprises. The law would no longer require competition in any facet of business activity of any sport enterprise. Thus the sale of radio and television rights, the management of stadia, the purchase and sale of advertising, the concession industry, and many other business activities, as well as the aspects of baseball which are solely related to the promotion of competition on the playing field, would be immune and untouchable. Such a broad exemption could not be granted without substantially repealing the antitrust laws." Id., at 230.
In No. 18 the following specific allegations appear and those in No. 23 are comparable:
"That the Defendants, and each of them, have entered into or agreed to be bound by a contract in the restraint of Interstate Commerce; that said contract is designated as the Major-Minor League Agreement, dated December 6, 1946, and provides in effect that:
"1. All players' contracts in the Major Leagues shall be of one form and that all players' contracts in the Minor Leagues shall be of one form.
"2. That all players' contracts in any league must provide that the Club or any assignee thereof shall have the option to renew the player's contract each year and that the player shall not play for any other club but the club with which he has a contract or the assignee thereof.
"3. That each club shall, on or before a certain date each year, designate a reserve list of active and eligible players which it desires to reserve for the ensuing year. That no player on such a reserve list may thereafter be eligible to play for any other club until his contract has been assigned or until he has been released.
"4. That the player shall be bound by any assignment of his contract by the club, and that his remuneration shall be the same as that usually paid by the assignee club to other players of like ability.
"5. That there shall be no negotiations between a player and any other club from the one which he is under contract or reservation respecting employment either present or prospective unless the Club with which the player is connected shall have in writing expressly authorized such negotiations prior to their commencement.
"6. That in the case of Major League players, the Commissioner of Baseball and in the case of Minor League players, the President of the National Association, may determine that the best interests of the game require a player to be declared ineligible and, after such declaration, no club shall be permitted to employ him unless he shall have been reinstated from the ineligible list.
"7. That an ineligible player whose name is omitted from a reserve list shall not thereby be rendered eligible for service unless and until he has applied for and been granted reinstatement.
"8. That any player who violates his contract or reservation, or who participates in a game with or against a club containing or controlled by ineligible players or a player under indictment for conduct detrimental to the good repute of professional baseball, shall be considered an ineligible player and placed on the ineligible list.
"9. That an ineligible player must be reinstated before he may be released from his contract.
"10. That clubs shall not tender contracts to ineligible players until they are reinstated.
"11. That no club may release unconditionally an ineligible player unless such player is first reinstated from the ineligible list to the active list.
"That by reason of Plaintiff being placed and held on said ineligible list as hereinabove set out and the making of the aforementioned contract by the Defendants, the Defendant[s], and each of them, have refused since the 25th day of May, 1950, and still do refuse to allow Plaintiff to play professional baseball, and that Plaintiff has thereby been deprived of his means of livelihood, all to the Plaintiff's damages in the sum of $125,000.00."
The complaint also contains a separate cause of action alleging that the defendants, by virtue of their agreements, have entered into a combination and conspiracy in the restraint of trade or commerce among the several states, and another cause of action alleging that the defendants have, by their agreements, combined to monopolize professional baseball in the United States.