CURT FLOOD ACT OF 1998; Congressional Record Vol. 144, No. 139
(House of Representatives - October 07, 1998)

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[Pages H9942-H9946]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]




                         CURT FLOOD ACT OF 1998

  Mr. HYDE. Mr. Speaker, I move to suspend the rules and pass the 
Senate bill (S. 53) to require the general application of the antitrust 
laws to major league baseball, and for other purposes.
  The Clerk read as follows:

                                 S. 53

       Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of 
     the United States of America in Congress assembled,

     SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE.

       This Act may be cited as the ``Curt Flood Act of 1998''.

     SEC. 2. PURPOSE.

       It is the purpose of this legislation to state that major 
     league baseball players are covered under the antitrust laws 
     (i.e., that major league baseball players will have the same 
     rights under the antitrust laws as do other professional 
     athletes, e.g., football and basketball players), along with 
     a provision that makes it clear that the passage of this Act 
     does not change the application of the antitrust laws in any 
     other context or with respect to any other person or entity.

     SEC. 3. APPLICATION OF THE ANTITRUST LAWS TO PROFESSIONAL 
                   MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL.

       The Clayton Act (15 U.S.C. Sec. 12 et seq.) is amended by 
     adding at the end the following new section:
       ``Sec. 27. (a) Subject to subsections (b) through (d), the 
     conduct, acts, practices, or agreements of persons in the 
     business of organized professional major league baseball 
     directly relating to or affecting employment of major league 
     baseball players to play baseball at the major league level 
     are subject to the antitrust laws to the same extent such 
     conduct, acts, practices, or agreements would be subject to 
     the antitrust laws if engaged in by persons in any other 
     professional sports business affecting interstate commerce.
       ``(b) No court shall rely on the enactment of this section 
     as a basis for changing the application of the antitrust laws 
     to any conduct, acts, practices, or agreements other than 
     those set forth in subsection (a). This section does not 
     create, permit or imply a cause of action by which to 
     challenge under the antitrust laws, or otherwise apply the 
     antitrust laws to, any conduct, acts, practices, or 
     agreements that do not directly relate to or affect 
     employment of major league baseball players to play baseball 
     at the major league level, including but not limited to--
       ``(1) any conduct, acts, practices, or agreements of 
     persons engaging in, conducting or participating in the 
     business of organized professional baseball relating to or 
     affecting employment to play baseball at the minor league 
     level, any organized professional baseball amateur or first-
     year player draft, or any reserve clause as applied to minor 
     league players;
       ``(2) the agreement between organized professional major 
     league baseball teams and the teams of the National 
     Association of Professional Baseball Leagues, commonly known 
     as the `Professional Baseball Agreement', the relationship 
     between organized professional major league baseball and 
     organized professional minor league baseball, or any other 
     matter relating to organized professional baseball's minor 
     leagues;
       ``(3) any conduct, acts, practices, or agreements of 
     persons engaging in, conducting or participating in the 
     business of organized professional baseball relating to or 
     affecting franchise expansion, location or relocation, 
     franchise ownership issues, including ownership transfers, 
     the relationship between the Office of the Commissioner and 
     franchise owners, the marketing or sales of the entertainment 
     product of organized professional baseball and the licensing 
     of intellectual property rights owned or held by organized 
     professional baseball teams individually or collectively;
       ``(4) any conduct, acts, practices, or agreements protected 
     by Public Law 87-331 (15 U.S.C. Sec. 1291 et seq.) (commonly 
     known as the `Sports Broadcasting Act of 1961');
       ``(5) the relationship between persons in the business of 
     organized professional baseball and umpires or other 
     individuals who are employed in the business of organized 
     professional baseball by such persons; or
       ``(6) any conduct, acts, practices, or agreements of 
     persons not in the business of organized professional major 
     league baseball.
       ``(c) Only a major league baseball player has standing to 
     sue under this section. For the purposes of this section, a 
     major league baseball player is--
       ``(1) a person who is a party to a major league player's 
     contract, or is playing baseball at the major league level; 
     or
       ``(2) a person who was a party to a major league player's 
     contract or playing baseball at the major league level at the 
     time of the injury that is the subject of the complaint; or
       ``(3) a person who has been a party to a major league 
     player's contract or who has played baseball at the major 
     league level, and who claims he has been injured in his 
     efforts to secure a subsequent major league player's contract 
     by an alleged violation of

[[Page H9943]]

     the antitrust laws: Provided however, That for the purposes 
     of this paragraph, the alleged antitrust violation shall not 
     include any conduct, acts, practices, or agreements of 
     persons in the business of organized professional baseball 
     relating to or affecting employment to play baseball at the 
     minor league level, including any organized professional 
     baseball amateur or first-year player draft, or any reserve 
     clause as applied to minor league players; or
       ``(4) a person who was a party to a major league player's 
     contract or who was playing baseball at the major league 
     level at the conclusion of the last full championship season 
     immediately preceding the expiration of the last collective 
     bargaining agreement between persons in the business of 
     organized professional major league baseball and the 
     exclusive collective bargaining representative of major 
     league baseball players.
       ``(d)(1) As used in this section, `person' means any 
     entity, including an individual, partnership, corporation, 
     trust or unincorporated association or any combination or 
     association thereof. As used in this section, the National 
     Association of Professional Baseball Leagues, its member 
     leagues and the clubs of those leagues, are not `in the 
     business of organized professional major league baseball'.
       ``(2) In cases involving conduct, acts, practices, or 
     agreements that directly relate to or affect both employment 
     of major league baseball players to play baseball at the 
     major league level and also relate to or affect any other 
     aspect of organized professional baseball, including but not 
     limited to employment to play baseball at the minor league 
     level and the other areas set forth in subsection (b) above, 
     only those components, portions or aspects of such conduct, 
     acts, practices, or agreements that directly relate to or 
     affect employment of major league players to play baseball at 
     the major league level may be challenged under subsection (a) 
     and then only to the extent that they directly relate to or 
     affect employment of major league baseball players to play 
     baseball at the major league level.
       ``(3) As used in subsection (a), interpretation of the term 
     `directly' shall not be governed by any interpretation of 
     section 151 et seq. of title 29, United States Code (as 
     amended).
       ``(4) Nothing in this section shall be construed to affect 
     the application to organized professional baseball of the 
     nonstatutory labor exemption from the antitrust laws.
       ``(5) The scope of the conduct, acts, practices, or 
     agreements covered by subsection (b) shall not be strictly or 
     narrowly construed.''.

  The SPEAKER pro tempore. Pursuant to the rule, the gentleman from 
Illinois (Mr. Hyde) and the gentleman from Michigan (Mr. Conyers) each 
will control 20 minutes.
  The Chair recognizes the gentleman from Illinois (Mr. Hyde).
  (Mr. HYDE asked and was given permission to revise and extend his 
remarks.)


                             General Leave

  Mr. HYDE. Mr. Speaker, I ask unanimous consent that all Members may 
have 5 legislative days within which to revise and extend their remarks 
on the bill under consideration.
  The SPEAKER pro tempore. Is there objection to the request of the 
gentleman from Illinois?
  There was no objection.
  Mr. HYDE. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.
  Mr. Speaker, I rise in support of S. 53, the Curt Flood Act of 1998. 
After years of disagreement, the baseball players, the baseball owners, 
and the minor leagues have reached an historic agreement on the 
application of the antitrust laws to labor relations in baseball. This 
agreement has already passed the Senate by unanimous consent, and I 
hope we will pass it today.
  Mr. Speaker, let me just add, because we are talking about baseball, 
let me tip my cap to my good friend, the gentleman from Michigan (Mr. 
Conyers) the ranking member of the Committee on the Judiciary. He has 
his own bill on this topic, H.R. 21, and he has led the charge on this 
issue in the House. I want to thank him for his outstanding work in 
bringing this bill to fruition.
  I also want to thank my friends, Senators Orrin Hatch and Pat Leahy, 
chairman and ranking member of the Senate Committee on the Judiciary. 
They worked many long hours to negotiate the delicate compromise that 
this bill embodies. We are also indebted to them for their outstanding 
efforts in bringing this bill to passage. I am delighted to support 
this simple but important bill, and I ask my colleagues to do the same.
  Mr. Speaker, I rise in support of S. 53, the ``Curt Flood Act of 
1998.'' After years of disagreement, the baseball players, the baseball 
owners, and the minor leagues have reached a historic agreement on the 
application of the antitrust laws to labor relations in baseball. This 
agreement has already passed the Senate by unanimous consent, and I 
hope that we will pass it today.
  The Supreme Court first held that the business of baseball is exempt 
from the antitrust laws in 1922. Federal Baseball Club of Baltimore, 
Inc. v. National League of Professional Baseball Clubs, 259 U.S. 200 
(1922). The Court, emphasizing organized baseball's longstanding 
reliance on that exemption, has twice declined to overrule its original 
1922 decision. Flood v. Kuhn, 407 U.S. 258 (1972); Toolson v. New York 
Yankees, Inc., 346 U.S. 356 (1953). Instead, the Court has left it to 
Congress to decide whether the baseball exemption should continue.
  Given the agreement of the parties, Congress has now decided to 
legislate in this area, but we do so only in an extremely narrow 
manner. S. 53 leaves completely unchanged all aspects of the baseball 
exemption except for the narrow issue of the labor relations of major 
league players at the major league level as set out in detail in the 
new subsection 27(b) of the Clayton Act.
  This bill originates from a compromise struck during the last round 
of collective bargaining between the major league owners and the major 
league players. After a lengthy labor dispute, these parties reached a 
collective bargaining agreement that, among other things, required 
negotiation to reach agreement on a limited repeal of baseball's 
antitrust exemption. They did so because the players' union argued that 
the antitrust exemption contributed to the labor disputes that have 
long marked its relationship with the owners. Specifically, the union 
asserted that it was disadvantaged in its labor negotiations with the 
owners because, unlike unions of other professional athletes, it could 
not challenge allegedly unlawful employment terms under the antitrust 
laws.
  The major league clubs, of course, disagreed with this view. They 
contended that the baseball exemption was irrelevant to their labor 
negotiations with the union. The clubs argued that, like every other 
multi-employer bargaining group, they were protected from antitrust 
challenges to their employment terms by the nonstatutory labor 
antitrust exemption. In that regard, I want to note that nothing in 
this bill will affect in any way the protections afforded to the major 
league clubs by the nonstatutory labor antitrust exemption.
  As a result of this difference of opinion, both the players and the 
owners were willing to support the repeal of the specific and narrow 
portion of the baseball exemption covering labor relations between 
major league players and major league clubs. The bill was carefully 
drafted, however, to leave the remainder of the exemption intact.
  Before this bill passed the Senate, several changes were adopted to 
address concerns raised by owners of the minor league teams--the 
members of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues. 
Minor league baseball owners were concerned that the original bill 
reported by the Senate Judiciary Committee might not adequately protect 
their interests. Specifically, the minor league clubs were concerned 
that the original version of S. 53 was not sufficiently clear to 
preserve antitrust protection for: (1) the relationship between the 
major league clubs and the minor league clubs and (2) those work rules 
and employment terms that arguably affect both major league and minor 
league baseball players.
  Members of Congress agreed that this narrow legislation should not 
hurt the grass roots minor league baseball played in over 150 towns 
across the country. For that reason, the minor league clubs were 
invited into the discussion and given an opportunity to suggest changes 
to address their concerns, and those changes have been incorporated.
  As a result of these three-way negotiations, the parties agreed to 
amend the bill in several significant ways. These amendments clarify 
the limited reach of the bill and the expansive nature of the continued 
protection the bill affords to minor league baseball. For instance, to 
accommodate the concerns of the minor league clubs, subsection (b) of 
the new section 27 of the Clayton Act was changed by adding the word 
``directly'' immediately before the phrase ``relating to or affecting 
employment'' and the phrase ``major league players'' was added before 
the phrase ``to play baseball.'' These changes were made to ensure that 
neither major league players nor minor league players could use new 
subsection (a) to attack conduct, acts, practices, or agreements 
designed to apply to minor league employment.
  In addition, new subsection (c) was added to clarify that only major 
league players could sue under the new subsection (a). Again, the minor 
leagues were concerned that, without a narrow standing section, minor 
league players or amateurs might attempt to attack minor league issues 
by asserting that these issues also indirectly affected major league 
employment terms.
  Therefore, the new subsection (c) carefully limits the zone of 
persons protected by the bill to only major league players by providing 
that ``only a major league baseball player has

[[Page H9944]]

standing to sue under'' this limited antitrust legislation. The 
standing provision gives major league baseball players the same right 
to sue under the antitrust laws over the major league employment terms 
that other professional athletes have. Of course, the United States has 
standing to sue to enjoin all antitrust violations under 15 U.S.C. 
Sec. Sec. 4 and 25, and we do not intend subsection 27(c) to limit that 
broad authority.
  This bill does not affect the application of the antitrust laws to 
anyone outside the business of baseball. In particular, it does not 
affect the application of the antitrust laws to other professional 
sports. The law with respect to the other professional sports remains 
exactly the same after this bill becomes law.
  Because we are talking about baseball, let me tip my cap to my good 
friend, the Ranking Member of the Judiciary Committee, John Conyers. 
Mr. Conyers has his own bill on this topic, H.R. 21, and he has led the 
charge on this issue in the House. I want to thank him for his 
outstanding work in bringing this bill to fruition.
  I also want to thank my friends Senators Orrin Hatch and Pat Leahy, 
the Chairman and Ranking Member of the Senate Judiciary Committee. They 
worked many long hours to negotiate the delicate compromise that this 
bill embodies. We are also indebted to them for their outstanding 
efforts in bringing this bill to passage.
  Mr. Speaker, I am delighted to support this simple, but important, 
bill, and I ask my colleagues to do the same. At this point, I will 
reserve the balance of my time.
  Mr. Speaker, I reserve the balance of my time.
  Mr. CONYERS. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.
  (Mr. CONYERS asked and was given permission to revise and extend his 
remarks.)
  Mr. CONYERS. Mr. Speaker, this Curt Flood Act is an important piece 
of legislation. I thank the gentleman from Illinois (Chairman Hyde) for 
his very charitable comments. As two baseball aficionados, we know that 
the right thing is being done as we move this to finality.
  Professional baseball is the only industry in the United States 
exempt from the antitrust laws without being subject to regulatory 
supervision. This circumstance has resulted from a rather sorry Supreme 
Court decision in 1922 holding that baseball did not involve interstate 
commerce and was beyond the reach of antitrust laws.

                              {time}  2145

  For some reason, we in the Congress have failed to rectify this, 
despite subsequent court decisions holding that all the other 
professional sports were fully subject to these same laws that baseball 
claimed to be exempt from.
  There may have been a time when baseball's unique treatment was a 
source of pride and distinction for many loyal fans who loved our 
national pastime. But with baseball suffering more work stoppages over 
the last century than all the other sports combined, including a 1994 
strike which ended the possibility of a world series for the first time 
in 90 years, and depriving many of our cities of tens of millions of 
dollars in tax revenues, we can now no longer afford to treat 
professional baseball in a manner enjoyed by no other professional 
sport. And that is what S. 53 and H.R. 21 attempt to do.
  I am very pleased to be a major sponsor of this legislation, because 
concerns have been previously raised that by repealing the antitrust 
exemption we would somehow be disrupting the operation of the minor 
leagues. That, my colleagues will remember, was the defense that was 
always raised. An ugly specter. Or professional baseball's ability to 
limit franchise relocation might also occur. This legislation carefully 
eliminates these matters from the scope of new antitrust coverage.
  In the past, some of us in this body objected to legislating in this 
area because of their hesitancy to take any action which could impact 
an ongoing labor dispute. But because the owners and the players have 
recently agreed to enter into a new collective bargaining agreement, 
that objection no longer exists. Additionally, the baseball owners are 
now in full support of this legislation, as of course the Major League 
Players Association has always been.
  This bill was introduced by myself in honor of a very courageous and 
beautiful ball player, center fielder, Curt Flood, who passed away 
earlier this year, in January, and, unfortunately, is no longer with us 
to see the fruit of his work. Mr. Flood, one of the greatest players of 
his time, risked his career when he challenged baseball's reserve 
clause after he was traded from the St. Louis Cardinals to the 
Philadelphia Phillies. Although the Supreme Court rejected the 1972 
challenge of Flood, we all owe a debt of gratitude for his willingness 
to challenge the baseball oligarchy. And he paid the price, too.
  By the way, at his funeral in California, George Will, perhaps the 
supreme baseball nut of all, was there, and Reverend Jesse Jackson, 
Senior was there as well. It was a very touching event.
  Now, this bill has gone through many changes over the years and was 
introduced originally in the 103rd Congress by our former beloved 
member of the Judiciary, Mike Synar, of Oklahoma.
  In order to address the concern of the minor leagues, it contains 
many redundancies and, accordingly, a court may have questions about 
how the provisions of this bill will interrelate. Any court facing such 
questions would be advised, if I may dare suggest, to return to the 
purpose section of the bill for aid and interpretation. The purpose 
section states what Congress intends; that is, that it is no longer 
subject to question that major league baseball players have the same 
rights under antitrust laws as do other professional athletes.
  This is a simple proposition, yet it is indeed startling that 26 
years after this brave and eloquent player, Curt Flood, stood alone 
before the Supreme Court to seek an answer to a question whose answer 
seemed obvious to him, that it is only just now being addressed by this 
branch of government. I am very proud of the Congress for this.
  If a court has any doubt as to the meaning or purpose of any 
provision of this act, it should be guided by our purpose, which is, at 
long last, to give the answer that Mr. Flood indeed knew to be the 
correct one. The legislation is not intended to have an adverse effect 
on any ongoing litigation nor intended to limit the ability of the 
United States Government to bring antitrust actions.
  It is overdue. I hope it will be quickly passed for the good of the 
game, which has once again demonstrated why we love it, why baseball is 
on a resurgence, and we are just delighted that now that McGwire and 
Sosa have brought new enjoyment and life to the game that we now have 
this legislation to accompany it.
  Mr. Speaker, I reserve the balance of my time.
  Mr. HYDE. Mr. Speaker, I yield 5 minutes to the gentleman from 
Kentucky (Mr. Jim Bunning), a member of Baseball's Hall of Fame.
  (Mr. BUNNING asked and was given permission to revise and extend his 
remarks.)
  Mr. BUNNING. Mr. Speaker, I thank the gentleman from Illinois for 
yielding me this time.
  Mr. Speaker, I rise in strong support of S. 53, the Curt Flood Act, 
named for the player who challenged the antitrust laws all the way to 
the Supreme Court.
  Baseball is the only sport, and just about the only business in 
America, that is immune from the antitrust laws. Because of an outdated 
supreme court decision, major league baseball has been operating under 
a different set of rules than everyone else for the past 75 years. The 
legislation before us today is very simple: It provides for a limited 
repeal of that exemption when it comes to labor-management relations.
  Baseball has had big troubles in recent years, and the antitrust 
exemption has been the root cause. There has been eight work stoppages 
in the last three decades, and it is no coincidence that baseball, the 
only sport that enjoyed such special treatment, has had more strikes 
and lockouts than all other sports combined.
  After playing and managing in professional baseball for over 25 
years, and serving on the Executive Board of the Players Association, I 
know firsthand how the exemption distorts player-owner relationships 
and has contributed to the turmoil in baseball. The exemption 
effectively removes a negotiating tool from the labor negotiating 
process and forces both sides to play hardball when it comes to 
bargaining over contracts. It removes a way for the players to push 
their grievances, and encourages the owners to take a hard line and 
reduces their incentive to compromise.

[[Page H9945]]

  Personally, I think this exemption should be repealed altogether. 
Baseball is a multibillion dollar business that should have to play by 
the same rules as other sports and businesses. The exemption is anti-
competitive and anti-American. But by passing this bill today, and 
partially repealing the exemption, we provide another avenue for the 
owners and the players to explore another way to vent steam before 
calling a strike or staging a lockout.
  This is a bipartisan consensus bill that the Senate passed without 
opposition. It is supported by all of the affected parties in baseball, 
owners, players, and the minor leagues. Everyone agrees that it 
represents a positive step forward for our national pastime.
  But most importantly, this legislation represents a win for the fans. 
Just 4 years ago the players were on strike. The world series was 
canceled. Baseball seemed doomed. But this year, as the gentleman from 
Michigan (Mr. Conyers) has said, baseball has had a renaissance. Mark 
McGwire and Sammy Sosa thrilled us with the home run race. The playoffs 
are more exciting than ever before. And baseball is back.
  Fans are returning to baseball, and passing this bill today will help 
ensure that the game does not spiral backwards, down into the abyss of 
labor strife. It will help ensure that the fans are not robbed of their 
right to the greatest game ever invented.
  Mr. Speaker, I urge strong support for the bill.
  Mr. CONYERS. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.
  I neglected to mention that the gentleman from Kentucky (Mr. Jim 
Bunning), Hall of Famer, worked diligently on this bill with myself and 
the gentleman from Illinois (Mr. Hyde), and he was also a Detroit 
Tiger, where his greatest playing took place, and we still claim him, 
although he represents the great State of Kentucky. And, Mr. Speaker, 
he has a baseball in his hand now, as we watch.
  Mr. Speaker, I yield back the balance of my time.
  Mr. HYDE. Mr. Speaker, I yield 2 minutes to the gentleman from 
Arkansas (Mr. Hutchinson).
  Mr. HUTCHINSON. Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the chairman for 
yielding me this time, and I want to thank the gentleman from Kentucky 
(Mr. Bunning) for signing my baseball and being such a great baseball 
hero.
  I speak as a fan today. In Arkansas, we do not have major league 
baseball in the State, but we have minor league baseball and we have a 
great baseball tradition. This bill that is before us has been agreed 
to by the players and the owners, but, more importantly, in my 
judgment, it is a bill for the fans. The fans want to see the boys of 
summer out on the field. They want to see them play ball. This has been 
a great year for the fans and we want that to continue without 
interruption.
  This bill, as has been explained, and so eloquently by the gentleman 
from Michigan (Mr. Conyers), and also by the chairman, provides 
baseball players with the same rights already afforded the National 
Football League and the National Basketball Association players. So 
they can act as their counterparts do in other fields of endeavor. But 
this also recognizes the importance of an antitrust exemption for 
certain aspects of the game so team owners may continue to cooperate on 
issues such as league expansion, franchise location and broadcast 
rights, without fear of lawsuit. So it protects and helps minor league 
baseball that is important in my State.
  Mr. Speaker, baseball is America's pastime and it is my State's as 
well. Arkansas has produced its share of baseball greats as well, men 
like Lou Brock, Dizzy Dean, George Kell, and Brooks Robinson, all Hall 
of Famers, that have made us proud as they have carried a little bit of 
Arkansas to the far corners of this country.
  Mr. Speaker, this is a good bill for baseball, the players and owners 
alike; it is a good bill for the fans, and I urge my colleagues to 
support it.
  Mr. HYDE. Mr. Speaker, I yield 2 minutes to the gentleman from New 
York (Mr. Boehlert).
  (Mr. BOEHLERT asked and was given permission to revise and extend his 
remarks.)
  Mr. BOEHLERT. Mr. Speaker, I rise in support of this conference 
report. I do so in my capacity as chairman of the Minor League Baseball 
Caucus. The common thread that unites all of us in this caucus is our 
love for America's pastime.
  I am a little bit disappointed that the two gentlemen that preceded 
me in the well, the gentleman from Kentucky (Mr. Bunning), who is a 
member of the Baseball Hall of Fame, when he talked about the great 
year of 1998, I am surprised that he, a great Hall of Fame pitcher, did 
not mention that David Wells pitched a perfect game for the New York 
Yankees. The gentleman from Kentucky knows more than most that good 
pitching beats good hitting all the time.
  Mr. HYDE. Mr. Speaker, will the gentleman yield?
  Mr. BOEHLERT. I yield to the gentleman from Illinois.
  Mr. HYDE. I would like to point out to the gentleman that the 
gentleman from Kentucky (Mr. Bunning) also pitched a perfect game when 
he was in the major leagues.
  Mr. BOEHLERT. Reclaiming my time, Mr. Speaker, the gentleman is 
exactly right, and I was one of the great fans cheering him on when he 
pitched that perfect game.
  And my colleague from Arkansas neglected to mention another great 
Hall of Famer from his home State. Arky Vaughn.
  The fact of the matter is, one of the reasons why this settlement was 
delayed was the genuine concern for the future of minor league 
baseball. Because when all is said and done, while we are all thrilled 
by America's pastime, most people have to watch it on television. But 
across America, 35 million fans are going to the ball parks to see 
minor league baseball, in places like Syracuse, New York, and Utica, 
New York, and all over America. In Toledo, Ohio, the Mudhens. Who can 
forget them.

                              {time}  2200

  It is indeed America's pastime. The great concern that all of us had 
was the preservation of minor league baseball. I am pleased to report 
to my colleagues that the minor league baseball officials have worked 
cooperatively and they do endorse this package. It is good for baseball 
at all levels.
  Mr. LUTHER. Mr. Speaker, in an attempt to clarify the legislative 
intent of S. 53, I would like to place the following Senate colloquy 
between Senator Paul Wellstone, Judiciary Committee Chairman Orrin 
Hatch and Ranking Judiciary Committee Member Patrick Leahy in the House 
record.

                         Curt Flood Act of 1998

       Mr. Wellstone. Mr. President, late last night (July 30, 
     1998), the Senate passed by unanimous consent S. 53. I have 
     been contacted by the Attorney General of my State, Hubert H. 
     Humphrey III, and asked to try to clarify a technical legal 
     point about the effect of this legislation. The State of 
     Minnesota, through the office of Attorney General, and the 
     Minnesota Twins are currently involved in an antitrust-
     related investigation. It is my understanding that S. 53 will 
     have no impact on this investigation or any litigation 
     arising out of the investigation.
       Mr. Hatch. That is correct. The bill simply makes it clear 
     that major league baseball players have the same rights under 
     the antitrust laws as do other professional athletes. The 
     bill does not change current law in any other context or with 
     respect to any other person or entity.
       Mr. Wellstone. Thank you for that clarification. I also 
     note that several lower courts have recently found that 
     baseball currently enjoys only a narrow exemption from 
     antitrust laws and that this exemption applies only to the 
     reserve system. For example, the Florida Supreme Court in 
     Butterworth v. National League, 644 So.2d 1021 (Fla. 1994), 
     the U.S. District Court in Pennsylvania in Piazza v. Major 
     League Baseball, 831 F. Supp. 420 (E.D. Pa. 1993) and a 
     Minnesota State court in a case involving the Twins have all 
     held the baseball exemption from antitrust laws is now 
     limited only to the reserve system. It is my understanding 
     that S. 53 will have no effect on the courts' ultimate 
     resolution of the scope of the antitrust exemption on matters 
     beyond those related to owner-player relations at the major 
     league level.
       Mr. Hatch. That is correct. S. 53 is intended to have no 
     effect other than to clarify the status of major league 
     players under the antitrust laws. With regard to all other 
     context or other persons or entities, the law will be the 
     same after passage of the Act as it is today.
       Mr. Leahy. I concur with the satement of the Chairman of 
     the Committee. The bill affects no pending or decided cases 
     except to the extent that courts have exempted major league 
     baseball clubs from the antitrust laws in their dealings with 
     major league players. In fact, Section 3 of the legislation 
     makes clear that the law is unchanged with regard to issues 
     such as relocation. The bill has no impact on the recent 
     decisions in federal and state courts in Florida, 
     Pennsylvania and

[[Page H9946]]

     Minnesota concerning baseball's status under the antitrust 
     laws.
       Mr. Wellstone. I thank the Senator. I call to my colleagues 
     attention the decision in Minnesota Twins v. State by 
     Humphrey, No. 62-CX-98-568 (Minn. dist. Court, 2d Judicial 
     dist., Ramsey County April 20, 1998) reprinted in 1998-1 
     Trade Cases (CCH) 72,136.

  Mr. BILIRAKIS. Mr. Speaker, I rise to support S. 53, the Curt Flood 
Act, which gives major league baseball players the same rights other 
professional athletes have under antitrust laws.
  As a longtime proponent of lifting baseball's antitrust exemption, I 
have sponsored bills in the past to lift this exemption completely as 
it applies to all aspects of baseball's business. Although the bill we 
are considering now is more limited in scope, it is an important first 
step in correcting a seven decade-old mistake.
  Federal antitrust laws prohibit businesses from taking actions that 
``unreasonably'' constrain interstate commerce. However, many years ago 
Major League Baseball was singled out for a complete exemption from 
America's antitrust laws by the Supreme Court. The Court said baseball 
was an amusement and not a business, exempting it from antitrust laws. 
This exemption created a monopoly for baseball and established 
artificial barriers to league expansion. It sent the wrong signal to 
Americans that baseball did not have to comply with our country's 
antitrust laws.
  In 1972, the Supreme Court called the situation an ``anomaly'' and an 
``aberration'' which Congress should remedy. A 1976 report by the House 
Select Committee on Professional Sports concluded that there was no 
justification for baseball's special exemption. Unfortunately, no 
action was ever taken.
  Mr. Speaker, baseball has seen a resurgence since the dark days of 
the 1994 strike. Who can forget Cal Ripken's triumphant lap around 
Camden Yards after breaking Lou Gehrig's Iron Man streak of consecutive 
games played? Or the incredible home run chase this year between Mark 
McGwire and Sammy Sosa that culminated in both players smashing the 
thirty-seven-year home run record held by Roger Maris?
  I felt immense personal pride when I watched my hometown team, the 
Tampa Bay Devil Rays, take the field for their inaugural season at 
Tropicana field. The debut of a major league team in the Tampa-St. 
Petersburg area was delayed for years because Major League Baseball did 
not have to abide by our nation's antitrust laws.
  I urge my colleagues to support S. 53 because it makes baseball live 
by the same laws as the fans who sit in the bleachers. It tells 
baseball fans that competition and fairness in baseball boardrooms is 
just as important as it is on the field. Let's give America its game 
back.
  Mr. CHABOT. Mr. Speaker, the legislation before us today is the 
result of a negotiation resulting in a compromise among the union that 
represents major league players, the owners of major league baseball 
clubs, and by the owners of minor league baseball teams affiliated with 
major league clubs. The compromise addresses only the limited area of 
the labor relations of major league players at the major league level. 
The bill does not affect any other aspect of the organized baseball 
exemption. Also, the legislation does not change in any way the 
antitrust exemption for the major league players union or the major 
league clubs in the collective bargaining process provided by the 
nonstatutory labor antitrust exemption available to all unions and 
employers.
  The legislation is a success because it has been carefully crafted to 
make clear that only major league baseball players, and no other party, 
can bring suit under this amendment to the Clayton Act.
  This protection will help to ensure the continued viability of minor 
league baseball.
  Minor league baseball owners were concerned that any legislation 
preserve the antitrust protections for the historic relationship 
between the major league clubs and the minor league clubs. The minor 
league owners were particularly concerned about the work rules and 
terms of employment that impact both major league and minor league 
baseball players. The language of the bill guarantee that neither major 
league players nor minor league players can use subsection (a) of new 
section 27 of the Clayton Act to attack conduct, acts, practices or 
agreements designed to apply only to minor league employment.
  I believe the compromise is successful because it protects minor 
league baseball by barring minor league players or amateur players from 
using the antitrust laws to attack issues unique to the continued 
economic success of minor league baseball.
  Mr. CLAY. Mr. Speaker, I rise in strong support of S. 53, the ``Curt 
Flood Act of 1998.'' This is the Senate counterpart of H.R. 21, 
legislation I introduced in the each of the last two Congresses 
providing for the partial repeal of baseball's antitrust exemption. I'd 
like to thank Chairman Hyde for his leadership in seeing that this 
vital and long overdue legislation reached the House Floor.
  Professional baseball is the only industry in the United States 
exempt from antitrust laws without being subject to alternative 
regulatory supervision. This circumstance resulted from an erroneous 
1922 Supreme Court decision holding that baseball did not involve 
``interstate commerce'' and was therefore beyond the reach of the 
antitrust laws. Congress has failed to overturn this decision despite 
subsequent court decisions holding that the other professional sports 
were fully subject to the antitrust laws.
  There may have been a time when baseball's unique treatment was a 
source of pride and distinction for the many loyal fans who loved our 
national pastime. But with baseball suffering more work stoppages over 
the last 25 years than all of the other professional sports combined--
including the 1994-95 strike which ended the possibility of a World 
Series for the first time in 90 years and deprived our cities of 
thousands of jobs and millions of dollars in tax revenues--we can no 
longer afford to treat professional baseball in a manner enjoyed by no 
other professional sport.
  Because concerns have previously been raised that by repealing the 
antitrust exemption we could somehow be disrupting the operation of the 
minor leagues, or professional baseball's ability to limit franchise 
relocation, the legislation carefully eliminates these matters from the 
scope of the new antitrust coverage.
  In the past, some in Congress had objected to legislating in this 
area because of their hesitancy to take any action which could impact 
the ongoing labor dispute. But because the owners and players have 
recently agreed to enter into a new collective bargaining agreement, 
this objection no longer exists. In addition, the baseball owners are 
now in full support of this legislation as are the Major League Players 
Association.
  I originally introduced the House version of the bill as H.R. 21, in 
honor of the courageous center fielder, Curt Flood, who passed away 
earlier this year on January 21. Mr. Flood, one of the greatest players 
of his time, risked his career when he challenged baseball's reserve 
clause after he was traded from the St. Louis Cardinals to the 
Philadelphia Phillies. Although the Supreme Court rejected Flood's 
challenge in 1972, we all owe a debt of gratitude for his willingness 
to challenge the baseball oligarchy.
  This bill has gone through many iterations over the years, beginning 
with its first enaction by the House Judiciary Committee at the end of 
the 103d Congress. That legislation was introduced by my former 
colleague Mike Synar.
  In order to address the concern of the minor leagues, it contains 
many redundancies. Accordingly, a court may have questions about how 
the provisions of this bill interrelate. Any court facing such 
questions would be well-advised to return to the purpose section of the 
bill for aid in interpretation. The purpose section is the statement of 
what Congress intends the bundle of works now known as the ``Curt Flood 
Act of 1998'' to mean--that is, it is no longer subject to question 
that major league baseball players have the same rights under the 
antitrust laws as do other professional athletes. That is a simple 
proposition, yet it is indeed startling that 26 years after a brave and 
eloquent player stood alone before the Supreme Court to seek an answer 
that was obvious to him, it is only now being addressed directly by any 
branch of the United States government. If a court has any doubt as to 
the meaning or purpose of any provision of this new Act, it should be 
guided by our purpose which is at long last to give the answer Mr. 
Flood knew to be the correct one. This legislation is not intended to 
have any adverse effect on any ongoing litigation nor is it intended to 
limit the ability of the United States to bring antitrust actions.
  Mr. Speaker, this bill is long overdue. I hope the House will act 
quickly to pass it for the good of the game, which has once again 
demonstrated why we love it, and for the good of the fans, who deserve 
to enjoy the national pastime without the continuous interruptions that 
have become nearly as predictable and plentiful, as McGwire or Sosa 
home runs.
  Mr. HYDE. Mr. Speaker, I have no further requests for time, and I 
yield back the balance of my time.
  The SPEAKER pro tempore (Mr. Gutknecht). The question is on the 
motion offered by the gentleman from Illinois (Mr. Hyde) that the House 
suspend the rules and pass the Senate bill, S. 53.
  The question was taken; and (two-thirds having voted in favor 
thereof) the rules were suspended and the Senate bill was passed.
  A motion to reconsider was laid on the table.

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