Select Page

Baseball via the National Archives

It is, The Legal Genealogist contends, always a good day when the New York Yankees are atop the American League East.

Oh, it could be better for sure — sharing the top spot with the loathed adversaries from Beantown is hard — but after last season’s disappointment in the ALCS the strength of the team early on is awfully nice.

It could be even better if the weather wasn’t threatening to cancel today’s game.

So… what’s a blog about legal genealogy doing talking about baseball?

Come on, now…

Even the National Archives can answer that question.

And it has done so, in writing, in a slim little ebook that you can download for free if you love baseball or the law or — like me — baseball and the law.

Now I’ve written about Baseball: The National Pastime in the National Archives before,1 but it’s so worth mentioning time and again for those who weren’t reading the blog in the past.

Because those two topics of baseball and the law — 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.2 And how does Baseball: The National Pastime in the National Archives begin? With images of patents for baseball bats and balls and gloves.

glove patent

• Ever have occasion to look into the laws that sent Native American children to boarding schools3 or that sent Japanese American citizens into internment camps during World War II?4 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?5 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.6

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 here on this 113th anniversary of the second no-hitter of Christy Matthewson’s career,7 we can all pass some time with the national pastime… without leaving our computers.

Baseball: The National Pastime in the National Archives is a great read — and a great example of how the law impacts every aspect of our lives.


  1. See Judy G. Russell, “Joy in Mudville — legal-style,” The Legal Genealogist, posted 4 Apr 2016 ( : accessed 13 June 2018).
  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).
  7. See “1905: Christy Matthewson throws second no-hitter,” This Day in History ( : accessed 13 June 2018).
Print Friendly, PDF & Email