The political economy of organized baseball: Analysis of a unique industry

1999 1999

Other formats: Order a copy

Abstract (summary)

This dissertation claims that from 1879 until the early 1970s organized baseball players labored under a unique form of slavery. An analysis is provided of the economics surrounding organized baseball, the culture interpreting and describing the treatment of players, and the laws and rules structuring organized baseball to argue that the baseball industry resembled slavery more than it resembled any other social structure. The dissertation also discusses the struggle that took place within and outside of this slavery to liberate the “boys of summer” from their contractual bondage. This struggle culminated in 1976 with the introduction of free agency and the elimination of the reserve clause in organized baseball, setting in motion a transition to capitalism from this slavery. Ironically, ballplayers had previously labored under capitalism in the nineteenth century until escalating labor costs and player movement from team to team led to a transition to the slavery from which the players would not be liberated until 1976.

Following this discussion, the dissertation turns to a careful analysis of this new capitalist economic structure that emerged after 1976. It examines how clubs become complex sites of revenue flows not only from baseball, but also from broadcasting, the state, concessions, luxury seating, etc. The dissertation then examines the impact of these flows on the actors and structures inside and outside of organized baseball. Through its study of organized baseball, this dissertation allows for a new way of thinking about the organization of an industry and the struggles between labor and management within that industry. It also offers a new way to conceptualize the relationship between the law, culture, and economics. By studying organized baseball, this dissertation provides a new and unique understanding of the labor struggles in organized baseball, the relationship between baseball and the state, and the relationships between individual clubs. It thus allows for a more generalized understanding of labor-management conflicts as well as conflicts between industry and the state.

Indexing (details)

Labor economics
0501: Economics
0510: Labor economics
Identifier / keyword
Social sciences; Industry; Political economy; Professional baseball; Slavery; Sports
The political economy of organized baseball: Analysis of a unique industry
Weiner, Ross David
Number of pages
Publication year
Degree date
School code
DAI-A 60/11, Dissertation Abstracts International
Place of publication
Ann Arbor
Country of publication
United States
0599529830, 9780599529830
Resnick, Stephen
University of Massachusetts Amherst
University location
United States -- Massachusetts
Source type
Dissertations & Theses
Document type
Dissertation/thesis number
ProQuest document ID
Database copyright ProQuest LLC; ProQuest does not claim copyright in the individual underlying works.
Document URL
Access the complete full text

You can get the full text of this document if it is part of your institution's ProQuest subscription.

Try one of the following:

  • Connect to ProQuest through your library network and search for the document from there.
  • Request the document from your library.
  • Go to the ProQuest login page and enter a ProQuest or My Research username / password.