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Opening Day

The sun is shining here in the New York area. The sky is blue. And at 1:05 this afternoon, it will be right around 55 degrees.

Perfect. Absolutely perfect.

It’s opening day for the 111th season of The Legal Genealogist‘s favorite team — the team so much of the country loves to hate — the New York Yankees. And we’re playing our archnemesis, the team we love to hate, the Boston Red Sox.

It’s our ace C.C. Sabathia against their Jon Lester. Statistics favor us — the Yankees have won 11 straight home season openers when the season starts at home dating back to 1986. And we’ve won two of the last three season openers against the Red Sox.

It doesn’t get much better than this.

Except when the National Archives gets into the act.

I’m telling you — if you’re a baseball fan — you have got to grab this free downloadable eBook from the National Archives — Baseball: The National Pastime in the National Archives.1

And here’s the kicker for readers of this blog — you also have got to grab this free downloadable eBook if you’re a fan of the law.

Patent law — now codified at 35 U.S.C. §§ 1 et seq. — was incorporated into American law and given constitutional status in the United States in 1789, when this clause was inserted into Article I:

The Congress shall have Power To…promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries….2

And how does Baseball: The National Pastime in the National Archives begin? With images of patents for baseball bats and balls and gloves.

American law at various times required sending Native American children to boarding schools3 and interning Japanese American citizens during World War II.4

And what’s the next thing that Baseball: The National Pastime in the National Archives features? Photos of the baseball teams from, for example, the Chemawa Indian School in Salem, Oregon, in 1939, the Chilocco Indian School near Newkirk, Oklahoma, in 1935, and the Albuquerque (N.M.) Indian School in 1911. And photos of the 1944 baseball season at the Tule Lake (Cal.) Segregation Center and children playing baseball at the Manzanar (Cal.) Relocation Center.

We all know that our ancestors had to register for the draft in World War I — the law said so.5 So wander through the pages of Baseball: The National Pastime in the National Archives — and the draft registration cards of George Herman Ruth — better known as Babe. And Ty Cobb. And Shoeless Joe Jackson. And Charles Stengel — better known as Casey.

Civil rights an issue you’re interested in? Baseball: The National Pastime in the National Archives follows Jackie Robinson’s presence in national records from his acquittal in a 1944 court martial on charges of refusing an order to sit in the back of a troop bus all the way through his activism and correspondence with Presidents Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson and Nixon.

How about federal labor relations law? Remember the 232-day strike of 1994-95? You can see some of the original documents leading up to that reserve clause battle starting with Curt Flood’s 1969 objection to “being bought and sold irrespective of my wishes.”

And near and dear to my heart, you can even read about the fight to open the Little League to girls — a legal battle fought around the country — but won in the courts of New Jersey when the Superior Court, Appellate Division, upheld a report and recommendation by a hearing officer who was a dear friend and mentor, the late Sylvia B. Pressler, who herself became the Presiding Judge of the Appellate Division in later years.6

You can download this free book in two flavors: for the iPad and for iPhone, Android, Nook, SONY Reader, other mobile device or eReader, or PC or Mac (an ePub file, 53.6MB.) I personally use the free program Calibre to read EPUB format books on my computer.

It’s fun, it’s free, it’s laced with the law.

And it’s for later.

Right now… PLAY BALL!


  1. Baseball: The National Pastime in the National Archives, EPUB format (Washington, D.C. : National Archives, 2013).
  2. U.S. Constitution, Article I, section 8, clause 8.
  3. See Act of 13 July 1892, 27 Stat. 143 (1892), giving the Commissioner of Indian Affairs power to require “attendance of Indian children of suitable age and health at schools established and maintained for their benefit.”
  4. See e.g. Act of March 21, 1942, 56 Stat. 173 (1942).
  5. Act of 18 May 1917, 40 Stat. 76 (1917).
  6. National Organization for Women v. Little League Baseball, 127 N.J. Super. 522 (App. Div. 1974), aff’d 67 N.J. 320 (1974).
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