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No strikeout here!!

This is a day when The Legal Genealogist should be totally distracted.

When deadlines, new lectures, syllabus materials and even (gasp) the pay-the-bills job should all be set aside for a few hours.

When instead of census records and probate courts and tax forms, it should be hot dogs, crackerjacks and the crack of a bat.

It should be — oh yes it should be — Opening Day in New York.

BB.ebookToday was the scheduled first home game of the season for my favorite team — the team so much of the rest of the country loves to hate — the New York Yankees. At 1:05 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time, the first pitch should have been thrown out against the Houston Astros.

Mother Nature, however, had other ideas. It’s barely 40 degrees right now, and a light rain is falling. So — alas! — that first pitch of the season has been postponed. Opening Day 2016, the 114th season for the Yanks, will now be tomorrow.


But it isn’t possible to mope around and think that there’s no joy in Mudville — not when the National Archives gets into the act.

Those of us who need a baseball fix today can get it by grabbing a free downloadable eBook from the National Archives — Baseball: The National Pastime in the National Archives.1

I’ve written about this book before2 but it’s worth mentioning again and again — not just for people who love baseball, but also for people who love the law.

Those two topics — obviously favorites of mine — are intertwined throughout this wonderful free downloadable book:

• If you’re at all interested in patent law, you know that the 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 as part of Article I.3 And how does Baseball: The National Pastime in the National Archives begin? With images of patents for baseball bats and balls and gloves.

• Ever have occasion to look into the laws that sent Native American children to boarding schools4 or that sent Japanese American citizens into internment camps during World War II?5 In Baseball: The National Pastime in the National Archives, you’ll find photos of the baseball teams from many of the Indian Schools and the internment camps.

• Interested in World War I draft registrations — and the law that required that registration?6 In the pages of Baseball: The National Pastime in the National Archives, you’ll find 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.

• If the fight for civil rights is what you’re most interested in, you can find in the pages of Baseball: The National Pastime in the National Archives the story of 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.

• For those of us committed to equal opportunities for our girls, you can read in Baseball: The National Pastime in the National Archives 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.7

You can download this free book in a number of different flavors: an iTunes version for iPad and another that works on the iPhone, iPad or iPod touch, an EPUB version for iPhone, Android, Nook, SONY Reader, other mobile device or eReader, or PC or Mac, a version for Scribd users, and, of course, the downloadable PDF for PC, Mac, or any mobile device with PDF reader.

So even if there’s no first pitch today, there is joy in Mudville — legal style — with Baseball: The National Pastime in the National Archives.


  1. Stephanie Greenhut, Kristina Jarosik, and Jenny Sweeney, Baseball: The National Pastime in the National Archives (Washington, D.C. : National Archives, 2013).
  2. Judy G. Russell, “Play ball!,” The Legal Genealogist, posted 1 Apr 2013 ( : accessed 4 Apr 2016).
  3. U.S. Constitution, Article I, section 8, clause 8.
  4. 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.”
  5. See e.g. Act of March 21, 1942, 56 Stat. 173 (1942).
  6. Act of 18 May 1917, 40 Stat. 76 (1917).
  7. 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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