Winter 1999: Document of the Month

This issue features a November 30, 1949 confidential memo from Walter Lord O’Brian to Commissioner Happy Chandler, discussing MLB’s attempt to write its judicially-created antitrust exemption into law. “At the Executive Council Meeting in Versailles, Kentucky, on November 1, 1949, it was decided to investigate with some care the possibility of obtaining legislative relief for Baseball in the near future. . . .

“It is clear that it will not be easy to obtain passage of even a limited legislative exemption, and unless preliminary talks with the Department of Justice and the Administration result in favorable reaction, it is believed that it will be so hopeless as to be unwise to make the attempt.” MLB’s proposal would have codified the Federal Baseball antitrust exemption, except for radio and TV contracts (which were then under investigation).

“It is assumed that it will be desirable to include other organized sports than baseball, but this is a very doubtful assumption, and presents a serious question of policy. No other sport has baseball’s reputation for integrity and responsible self government, and some may be said to be definitely subject to suspicion; accordingly, it might be wiser for baseball, at least initially, to urge an exemption only for Baseball itself, and not to attempt to include other sports.”

Compiled by Doug Pappas. All rights reserved.
Originally published in the Winter 1999 issue of Outside the Lines, the SABR Business of Baseball Committee newsletter.

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