Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor’s baseball bonafides are beyond reproach. A big Yankees fan from youth. The judge who effectively ended the strike in 1995. She knows her stuff.
So she was the perfect choice to sit in on a mock oral re-argument of the famous Curt Flood case, which sought to end the reserve clause and grant the players free agency. Flood lost that round, of course, but it paved the way for the institution of free agency a few years later.
NPR has the story about it here. This exchange made me chuckle. Remember: they’re pretending it’s 1972 and the consequences of free agency are yet unknown:
Sotomayor, in mock horror, said that if the antitrust exemption were abolished and owners could no longer collude to set player salaries at will, the Yankees might have to pay Reggie Jackson $1 million a year!
Worse, replied Karlan, would be if the Yanks paid Alex Rodriguez a quarter of a billion dollars not to play.
“I can’t imagine such a thing!” answered a shocked Sotomayor.
She also gets a dig in at the Red Sox’ World Series drought, which was probably fun for her. It’s also clear that if Sotomayor was on the court in 1972 she would not have joined the majority in upholding the reserve clause. Too bad she wasn’t.