Doubtful Trust In Baseball

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Baseball has long been considered America's favorite pastime. The qualities of this staple sport go far beyond the realm of simple entertainment; they represent a culture, one that is mired in decades of history, and complemented with the idealistic image of a close-knit family. When one thinks of the United States of America, cultural icons such as the American flag, apple pie, and baseball come to mind. Thus, it is important that when dealing with the economic facets of baseball, one considers the emotional response that can be incurred from the population. Dealing with more than one billion dollars, baseball undoubtedly deserves economic discussion. One issue that is highly controversial in this train of thought is the existence of anti-trust law exemptions in baseball.

Anti-trust laws are laws which prohibit anti-competitive behavior and unfair business practices. Their purpose is to make sure that businesses and consumers cannot be abused by powerful firms that hold or wish to hold a monopoly in the market. They also take into account certain ethical standards, and therefore can be considered quite subjective. Many specific strategies are outlawed by anti-trust laws, including price fixing (agreement on prices of uniform goods or services), predatory pricing (setting a low price in order to knock off competitors), and vendor lock-in (virtually forcing a consumer to buy from a certain supplier).

Anti-trust laws have had a colorful history in the United States. The earliest anti-trust law was created primarily by Senator John Sherman in 1890. It was signed by President Benjamin Harrison and put into effect, and today is the root of all anti-trust legislation. The Sherman Anti-Trust Act was used extensively during the Progressive era by "trust busters" such as Theodore Roosevelt, William Howard Taft, and Woodrow Wilson. The Standard Oil Company (headed by John D. Rockefeller) and the United States Steel Corporation (headed by Andrew Carnegie) were among the giants that fell to the wrath of the anti-trust acts. If these mammoth firms could not stand up to the anti-trust policies, what protected baseball from falling to them as well?

The controversy began to take root when in the beginning of the twentieth century, a player in the National League attempted to join a newly created club in the American League. The dispute was settled in 1903, claiming that the two leagues were a shared monopoly between the owners. Years later, Federal Baseball Club of Baltimore, Inc. v. National Baseball Clubs became a pivotal case in the status affirmation of baseball in the economy.

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