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Friday, December 12, 2008
William S. Stevens: 1948-2008So there's this thing just about every first year law student reads called “The Common Law Origins of the Infield Fly Rule.” It's a law review note from the 70s that draws an analogy between the infield fly rule and the Anglo-American common law, each of which were refined with incremental changes over time and each of which can be maddeningly confusing to the average observer. It's quite a famous bit of legal writing, as these things go, and it's dryly funny too. Given its subject, it was one of the few things I read in law school that I actually enjoyed and actually remember. Legal beagles who haven't read it can find it at 123 U. Pa. L. Rev. 1474 (1975).
Sadly, the fellow who wrote it has died:
William S. Stevens, whose slyly humorous law-review note on the relationship between baseball’s infield fly rule and Anglo-American common law became one of the most celebrated and imitated analyses in American legal history, died Monday in Anchorage, where he was working. He was 60 and lived in Narberth, Pa. The cause was a heart attack, said T. Dennis Sullivan, his brother-in-law . . .
He shouldn't have worried much about his ego. Most of us in this profession make no real mark and bring no real joy to anyone. Stevens did both, and for that I'll always have a good thought in my head and a good feeling in my heart for the guy.
(thanks to Jason for the heads up)
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