All right, in the interest of full disclosure: yours truly is the furthest thing from an objective source regarding this book. The author, Bill Gould, befriended me and I read his manuscript and offered him my editing advice. And more than that, I noticed a couple of questionable baseball facts in the manuscript, so Bill hired me to serve as his baseball fact-checker.
So, if you find any misstatements of baseball fact in this book, I’m the party to blame!
But with all those caveats noted, Bargaining with Baseball: Labor Relations in an Age of Prosperous Turmoil is a must-read book for anyone seriously interested in the labor history of baseball.
In addition to being one of the key figures in that history himself (Professor Gould was Chairman of the National Labor Relations Board in 1995, and it was he who cast the deciding vote that ended the longest labor stoppage in MLB history), the author is an unabashed lifelong fan of the game (and especially—fair warning!—the Red Sox) . Bill weaves his own highly interesting story into and around the “business” core of the book, and the result is an unusually accessible and engaging look at some pretty hefty stuff.
SABR-nerds such as yours truly might find a few of Bill’s observations regarding statistical metrics and milestones a bit questionable, but nonetheless he presents them with such genuine warmth and enthusiasm that one doesn’t get hung up on that issue.
And there is, literally, no author in the world better-qualified to present the detailed legal analysis and history included here. The affable, cheery Professor Emeritus persona that Bill presents is completely authentic—he is as nice a fellow as I’ve ever had the pleasure to meet—but his legal chops are deadly serious. Were one ever to take a class from Professor Gould, my advice would be sit toward the front, pay close attention, take copious notes, and prepare to be challenged. And to learn.