Major League Rebels: Baseball Battles Over Workers’ Rights and American Empire

Rowman & Littlefield. Apr. 2022. 336p. ISBN 9781538158883. $38. SPORTS
Since baseball’s inception as a professional sport, the entities that control it have sought to wring the maximum profit from the game, argue Elias and Dreier. Their book outlines myriad ways in which MLB team owners and league officials have manipulated laws and ignored morality in favor of money—often at players’ expense. Elias and Dreier also recount moments when players have countered major-league machinations. For instance, in the 1880s, hall-of-famer John Montgomery Ward organized possibly the first professional sports players union, in an ultimately failed attempt to secure fair wages for himself and his peers; the union hoped to do away with the reserve clause that forever tied players to a given team. Ninety years later, All-Star center fielder Curt Flood took a bold stance that helped bring about free agency and a new, stronger players union, headed by the extremely competent Marvin Miller. The book also examines the MLB’s decades of alignment with and tacit support of the U.S. military.
VERDICT Elias and Drier have exceptional insight on behind-the-scenes labor fights in the MLB; a fine depiction of capitalist avarice. A must for baseball fans.
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