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

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  1. Stan

    He gives a remote impossibility-You should have asked him about the Stan solution of simply pardoning use. And make it easy for player to admit they took them..undemonize them.
    This whole stigmatize them is stupid and goes nowhere. As we see,some players gave their lives to improve their game..same as tobacco chewers who needed the nicotine “high”…and we dont shun them.
    Do it the adult way..no “asterisks”.

    August 29th, 2011 12:41 pm

  2. captveg

    Lowell, what do you think about every owner, manager, GM and the Commish that conveniently looked the other way during the drug era also being ineligible for the Hall of Fame? As Bill says, “The Mitchell Report highlighted the corruption that permeated baseball from top to bottom.”

    August 29th, 2011 12:54 pm

  3. jimr

    I agree with Stan; rules against greenies (amphetamines) were adopted at the same time steroids were banned – 2000. Jim Bouton said in his “Ball Four” that players ate greenies like candy – in the 1960′s. This becomes a double-standard for the Hall Of Fame, to look at one drug and not the other. I’m fairly certain a number of trucker-pill-popping players are already enshrined. Anyhoo, having read Marvin Miller’s book on unionizing the players, I’m curious how this book will address the owner-player relationships over the years.

    August 29th, 2011 1:18 pm

  4. tkh

    I’ve met Mr. Gould once. A very nice man and an excellent member of the NLRB. Heard him speak one time before a small group aboard the Jeremiah O’Brian and it was very illuminating. Thanks for the heads up about the book. I look forward to reading it. (although I do disagree on the punishment for steroids – for the simple reason that every era had it’s issues that impacted the game just as much…i.e. exclusion of blacks in the 20-40′s was every bit as detrimental to the game and impacted records. Also, the influence of speed on the ballplayers in the 60′s also impacted the game and its record book. I think the Hall of Fame should be inclusive and that every era should be thoroughly examined in the Hall. If a person gets in and was accused, or played during the steroid era it should be documented. I think of the Hall as more of a historical record rather than a hallowed place..Pete Rose should be in warts and all, same for Bonds and other cheaters…but I realize I am in the minority on this and the Hall of Fame is NOT an historical museum but a recognition of great players and deeds..but that’s not the way I would have it be if I was in charge)

    August 29th, 2011 1:22 pm

  5. Duncan

    Who do you include as a cheater? Willie Mays, Hank Aaron, countless others have been proven to use red juice, greenies, etc. They were tired, and needed a pick me up. Then hit a home run. Should that count?

    August 29th, 2011 1:32 pm

  6. CohnZohn

    What would be your solution?

    August 29th, 2011 1:35 pm

  7. Steven Harmon

    Wow, Lowell, thanks for the heads up. That is a must buy. I am pleased to see you (and the author) view the steroids issue as a true line in the sand, and that the complicity of the game’s caretakers (owners, media, players even fans to an extend) should be taken to task.

    Hey, fans, if you’re interested in a little rumination on yesterday’s Giants’ loss, click on my name!

    August 29th, 2011 1:57 pm

  8. Steven Harmon

    And, I’m sorry, but there is no comparison between what greenies did for players and what steroids did to the game. Steroids fundamentally altered the game, provided players with more power than naturally possible, even improved their eyesight. Greenies didn’t allow them to recover more quickly from injury, didn’t add bulk to their bodies. Greenies are more comparable to caffeine, a quick pick-me up.

    August 29th, 2011 2:02 pm

  9. Stan

    No,greenies didnt Steve-but painkillers-without prescription- by the handfull did,and speed certainly was a wonderful pick up for a day after night game or doubleheader. Don’t underplay 50-60′s chemical enhancers.

    August 29th, 2011 5:03 pm

  10. One Puzzle Piece Short

    Steve Harmon – So it’s your contention that a “quick pick me up” to counter fatigue had no bearing on the results of the games? Then we did they bother? Tired players play poorly, so artificially refreshed ones must surely play better.

    Lowell, what about the fact, often unmentioned to avoid a vicious reaction, that many of the “golden age” players lived in another artificial bubble, one which grimly and firmly excluded players of color from the sport for decades, an even more shameful blight on the game.

    The Ginats announcers were speaking fondly of Perry’s “puffball”, but that was clearly cheating. So why does that get a pass? Who in the game has a moral, or even legal, leg to stand on when casting the first stone in a sea of sinners?

    August 29th, 2011 5:05 pm

  11. glenellen

    I agree with Stan and one puzzle.
    I figured out The Pete Rose Deal. He is banned from Baseball for life. Ok. But once he passes, he should go right into the Hall of Fame for what he did in Baseball. He is banned for his life, not after it. Agreed ?

    August 29th, 2011 7:17 pm

  12. Johnc

    One of Mr.Gould’s Chapters is entilted “The Growing Problem of Race in Baseball”. I have not had a chance to read that chapter yet, but if a “race” problem exits in baseball then it must exist in the San Francisco Giants as they are part of baseball. I have not heard a peep about this and you have certainly not brought it up in any of your columns. Can you elaborate at all on this?

    August 30th, 2011 12:15 am

  13. Dale

    It’s a difference of a little edge and a BIG edge. Other drugs were a little edge, steriods a big one. If Aaron had used them, he’d have hit 850 home runs, or more. I think while someone is under suspicion, they should not enter the hall. Bonds probably would have made it anyway, so he should, eventually. Maybe after death, like glenellen suggests for Rose. I think to allow Bonds in while he is suspected of cheating is a breach of integrity. There has to be a line somewhere. How can we reward cheating, or is it OK to win at any price?

    Dale in the UK

    August 30th, 2011 1:41 am

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