Athletes vs Owners

Jacob Daubert was born in coal country in Pennsylvania and went to work in the mines when he was 11. Growing up, he became a talented baseball player. He was good enough of a player to sign with minor league teams.

While he was originally a pitcher, he converted to first base. He broke into the major leagues in 1910. He was an average batter in his first season but batted over 300 in the next 6 seasons. His career highlights included:

  • National League MVP
  • Two times batting champion
  • Member of a World Series championship team

Jacob was one of the founders of the Players’ Fraternity. He was the Vice President of the fraternity when they petitioned the owners for changes in player/owner responsibilities. The demands they made included:

  • Negotiation rights when players were released
  • Ten days’ notice before being released
  • Contract transparency when they were traded
  • Prohibition against being sent to the minors if another club wanted them
  • Free uniforms and shoes
  • Traveling expenses to spring training
  • Written documentation on fines and suspensions

The initial results of the petition were unfavorable to players setting off over 100 years of continuous relationship between those with the talent and the owners. One result of the bargaining was that Jacob was never selected for the Baseball Hall of Fame. When Jacob’s career was over, he was in the top 10 among all-time players in 10 of the batting, fielding, and games played categories.

Jacob died during his last (14th) season at the age of40. He was the oldest player to die while still playing. The failed negotiations that Jacob spearheaded were the beginning of athletes asserting that their talent should be more in balance in rewards from sports revenues. One could argue that the balance has now shifted more to the players.

Not only did the baseball negotiations represent a beginning for sports but they also became a beginning for many industrial workers.

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“Where free unions and collected bargaining are forbidden, freedom is lost.” – Ronald Reagan

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