"Basically, owning a minor league franchise is a license to lose money," the lawyer pleads, and he gets no argument from the Supreme Court of the United States. Just refusal, once more, of the high court to reexamine its long-held principle that the business of baseball is exempt from federal antitrust laws.
Plaintiff was the defunct Boise (Idaho) Baseball Club, whose attorney appealed to the tribunal whose precedents, he said, have been "the primary cause of many civic-minded minor league operators going bankrupt, or going out of business."
The Boise club, a 1975-76 member of the Class A Northwest League, charged that the Oakland A's, with whom it had a player development contract, fostered the franchise's demise -- after financial losses forced a projected move out of Boise -- by interfering with prospective sale to investors in Medicine Hat, Alberta. Boise also argued it should have been compensated for the American League's appropriation of the Seattle area for the expansion Mariners in 1976. It sued the commissioner and the major leagues.
The justices, without comment, yesterday let stand lower courts' dismissal of Boise Baseball Club Inc. v. Kuhn et al. and spurned the contention that "the immunity rule . . . is outdated and should be overturned." The Big Nine went along with 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which had cited Curt Flood's unsuccessful challenge a decade ago to the antitrust exemption, stating, "The Supreme Court stressed the need for uniform national regulation of baseball."