Major League Baseball, or MLB, has enjoyed a federal antitrust exemption since 1922 due to a Supreme Court’s ruling that the sport did not engage in interstate commerce. Quite curious because even back then, teams had to cross state lines to play each other, but the ruling has nonetheless stayed on the books, so to speak, ever since.
The ruling was reaffirmed in 1953 and again in 1972 in the Curt Flood case that did away with the infamous reserve (slavery) clause that MLB teams had used to keep its players in tow, underpaid and under wraps. In this latter case, however, at least the high court noted that the ruling of no interstate commerce was an “anomaly” but left it to Congress to deal with if it so chose.
Of course, Congress has wielded its antitrust bludgeon on quite a few occasions, most recently when dragging in owners, players and baseball executives to testify about steroids use.
Now, and here’s another curious aspect, since baseball does not engage in interstate commerce, it technically doesn’t fall under the FLSA (Fair Labor Standards Act) that regulates working hours, minimum wages, overtime day and child labor. (Of course, most states have similar or stronger laws on the books, so this may be a moot point.)
I guess that’s how teams get away with working their batboys till the wee hours, right?