I am privileged to know Bill Gould and I want to tell you about his new book. Bill is professor emeritus of law at Stanford and he served as the chairman of the National Labor Relations Board from 1994 to 1998. He also is a die-hard baseball fan and for years it has been my pleasure – my honor – to sit near Bill at Giants and A’s games and talk ball. Just talk ball.
It’s like Oliver Wendell Holmes showing up at the ballpark and knowing my name and wanting to discuss why the Giants can’t hit.
Bill, you may know, was the guy who, as NLRB chairman brought the 1994-1995 baseball strike to an end. He figures hugely in the history of Major League Baseball.
His new book is called “Bargaining With Baseball.” It is part personal memoir and part a legal history of baseball. Bill talks about the history of baseball in ways I crave, in ways I never could. In the same sentence he can discuss a fine point of law and juxtapose that with a discussion of the spitter. His love of baseball emerges in every word, comma, dash and period of his book. He reminds us baseball is a game but it also is a business and it reverberates into politics and race relations – into every corner of our lives. He is a first-rate mind discussing our national pastime.
Here is a list of his chapters and then I’ll get into one specific topic:
The State of the Game
The Post-World War II Era: Remembrances of Baseball Past
The Early Years: The Game and the Law
The 1994-95 Baseball Strike and the NLRB
The Financial Aftermath of the Mother of All Strikes
On-the-Field Changes: The Players Speak
Cheating, Drugs and Other Forms of Problem Behavior
The Growing Problem of Race in Baseball
Globalization and Baseball
OK, got that? Now to the book.
As you saw, Bill wrote a chapter about drugs. I have more and more taken a hard position on drugs. You get caught cheating you don’t get into the Hall of Fame. I was afraid Bill would disagree with me on legal terms or on any terms. I was relieved to see he’s as hard as I am. I’ll quote some Bill Gould for you re: drugs and baseball.
On the complicity of Major League Baseball in the steroid scandal: “The Mitchell Report highlighted the corruption that permeated baseball from top to bottom.”
On records: “At the minimum a sanction at least in the form of an asterisk – an officially placed cloud which exists in any event – should be placed over the record of those implicated in Mitchell, and those named and mentioned by the BALCO revelations if they are revealed or investigated by the Commissioner in the future – admittedly a remote possibility.”
On the Hall of Fame: “If, in fact, Bonds and others are shown by drug testing and independent testimony to have consumed drugs independent of the outcome of perjury proceedings, it seems to me that denial of admission to the Hall of Fame is appropriate because of the fact that the integrity of the game itself was interfered with and that competition was not fair. Criminal conviction arising out of this would make the case for exclusion stronger. This has nothing to do with moral character or the idea that the Hall of Fame should maintain the standards of churches.”
Bill discusses every important, grown-up topic facing baseball today. If you walk by the press box at AT&T you often can see him sitting near Marty Lurie. Give Bill a wave.
William B. Gould’s book, “Bargaining With Baseball,” is published by McFarland and Company