SAN FRANCISCO — After a federal court dismissed appeal filed by former minor league players in an antitrust suit, their counsel is planning to petition the U.S. Supreme Court to review the case.
In response to a recent unfavorable decision, lead attorney for the players, Samuel Kornhauser, is preparing to once again challenge a historic ruling from the U.S. Supreme Court, which excludes Major League Baseball from the Sherman Antitrust Act.
“There is no exemption for baseball,” Kornhauser told the Northern California Record. “If you take a look at the antitrust statutes, there’s nothing in there. Congress created specific exemptions for labor bargaining and that sort of thing. But there is none for baseball, and we intend to petition the Supreme Court. Hopefully we’ll get it straightened out.”
The case was originally filed on behalf of four former minor league players, Cirilo Cruz, Jeffrey Dominguez, Sergio Miranda and Jorge Padilla. They accused Bud Selig, the former-MLB Commissioner, and the 30 MLB teams of colluding to restrict minor league players’ ability to play for other teams and fixing their pay, resulting in disparity between major and minor leagues.
For instance, the pay for starting minor league players was reportedly between $3,000 to $7,500 over the course of a five-month season in 2014. However, the minimum monthly salary for major league players was $81,500 that same year.
"It’s a huge industry," Kornhauser said. "The 30 billionaire baseball owners don’t need any antitrust protection. They’re making plenty of money. You got thousands of minor leaguers making $3,000 a year and it’s skewed. It’s backwards."
The U.S. Supreme Court's ruling, made nearly 95 years ago, declared that the game was “not a form of interstate commerce,” which Kornhauser protested to be not the case during the appeals proceedings.
However, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit sided with the precedent made by the high court based on its reaffirmations of the exemption in Toolson v. New York Yankees 346 U.S. 356 and Flood v. Kuhn 407 U.S. 258.
“The whole concept is upside down," Kornhauser said. "The ones that need protection are the players. The owners are colluding to fix their prices, the artificially low salaries. The ball players are working 50, 60 [hours], sometimes more a week—not even getting minimum wage. And it’s a hugely profitable business for the major league owners that pay those minor league salaries.”.