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Copyright (c) 1992 Emory University School of Law.
Emory Law Journal

COMMENTS: Fair or Foul? The Commissioner and Major League Baseball's Disciplinary Process

SPRING, 1992

41 Emory L.J. 581




Major League Baseball in the late twentieth century is a multi-billion dollar industry. 2 Major League Baseball, a self-governing private business association of twenty-six baseball clubs, has an internal disciplinary system that has enjoyed independence from outside judicial interference. 3 The basic powers to govern the industry are vested in a single omnipotent position: the Office of the Commissioner. The Commissioner is the chief executive officer of Major League Baseball. 4 The Commissioner has broad discretionary "police" powers to investigate any conduct or activity he deems not in the "best interests" of baseball and to impose any sanction he finds appropriate. 5 All persons involved in baseball (owners, players, club personnel, etc.) are subject to the jurisdiction of the Commissioner and agree to be bound without appeal by his decisions; they have no recourse to the courts. 6 As such, the Commissioner has the singular power to take away or materially affect significant property interests.

The Commissioner has used his disciplinary powers in two well-publicized cases over the last three years. In August of 1989, Commissioner A. Bartlett Giamatti banished Pete Rose, manager of the Cincinnati Reds and baseball's all-time hit leader, from the game for life because of his alleged gambling activities. In July of 1990, Commissioner Fay Vincent forced George Steinbrenner, the controversial owner of the New York Yankees, to resign as general partner of the Yankees' ownership group due to his "undisclosed working relationship" with and monetary payment to a known ...
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