Paul L. Caron

Monday, May 3, 2004

What Tax Profs Are Reading . . . Caron on Legal Essays on the New York Yankees

Tuesday, May 4, 2004

This is the second installment of What Tax Profs Are Reading. The goal is to share with the broader tax community reviews of both tax-related and nontax-related books recently read by tax professors. We invite tax professors to submit book reviews for publication on TaxProf Blog.

Image of Book JacketIn researching the connection between baseball and law schools for our Moneyball review essay, What Law Schools Can Learn from Billy Beane and the Oakland Athletics, 82 Texas L. Rev. 1483 (2004), we came across Courting the Yankees: Legal Essays on the Bronx Bombers (Carolina Academic Press, 2003), a wonderful collection of 21 essays by law professors, edited by Ettie Ward (St. John's), on a range of legal issues surrounding the Yankees and their players through the years. The book nicely accomplishes its mission:

[The book] examines both baseball lore and baseball law. Baseball has been America's national pastime for over 100 years; law and litigation now pervade every aspect of our society and have increasingly become an American pastime. By focusing on the famous New York Yankees, and incidents involving the team and the Yankee franchise, Courting the Yankees explores a wide range of legal issues as they relate to baseball.

Part One is devoted to some of the biggest names in Yankee history (Yogi Berra, Joe DiMaggio, Mickey Mantle, and George Steinbrenner) and their run-ins with the law. Surprisingly, some of the biggest Yankee names are not profiled -- where are Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Reggie Jackson, etc?

Part Two covers some notable incidents in Yankee history (injuries resulting from baseballs, Jim Bouton's tell-all book (Ball Four), the Sports Illustrated woman reporter who sued to gain access to the locker room, the death of Thurman Munson, and George Brett's pine tar incident).

Part Three contains various episodes of "scandalous behavior" perpetrated by various Yankees. (As one might expect, this is the longest part of the book.) Topics include various crimes and midemeanors ("foul" language, gambling, drug use, sex scandals, murders) and the role of the "cop" -- several baseball commissioners -- in policing the Yankee miscreants.

Part Four discusses various legal issues associated with Yankee Stadium, including its origins and building, as well as the impact of labor and antitrust laws.

Part Five explores various self-described "bigger issues," including breaking the color barrier, globalization, and, perhaps of most interest to readers of this blog, tax issues. Jack Williams (Georgia State) takes a tour through the tax problems of Yankees through the years. Some are mentioned only in passing, like Dwight Gooden and Darryl Strawberry. Others are discussed in much greater detail. The longest section explores the tax litigation surrounding Roger Maris's Anheuser-Busch distributorship. Other tax cases drawing significant discussion are those involving Whitey Ford, George Steinbrenner, and Jeff Pries.

As a life-long Boston Red Sox fan, I took perverse pleasure in reading about the various legal tangles involving my Yankee nemeses. Although nothing will take the sting away from last year's Red Sox implosion (or 1986, 1975, . . .), it is comforting to read that the Yankees' success on the diamond has not been matched in the courtroom. In watching Game 7 last year with my then-13 year old son, and seeing the tears stream down his face as he screamed at Grady Little "Take him out you idiot!," I was reminded of a great column in the Boston Globe after Game 6 of the 1986 World Series, describing how a father summed up the pain of the Bill Buckner moment to his 10-year son: "They killed your grandfather, they're killing me, and now the bastards are coming to get you."

To see the inaugural installment of What Tax Profs Are Reading, Joel Newman's review of Perfectly Legal by New York Times tax reporter David Cay Johnston, see here.

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