Off-campus UMass Amherst users: To download dissertations, please use the following link to log into our proxy server with your UMass Amherst user name and password.

Non-UMass Amherst users, please click the view more button below to purchase a copy of this dissertation from Proquest.

(Some titles may also be available free of charge in our Open Access Dissertation Collection, so please check there first.)

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

Ross David Weiner, University of Massachusetts Amherst


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.

Subject Area

Economics|Labor economics

Recommended Citation

Weiner, Ross David, "The political economy of organized baseball: Analysis of a unique industry" (1999). Doctoral Dissertations Available from Proquest. AAI9950217.