Love affair with baseball, labor law, is worth the read


By Rick Eymer

Palo Alto Online Sports

William B. Gould IV retains his lifelong passion for two things: the law, specifically labor law, and baseball, most specifically the Boston Red Sox.

The Professor Emeritus at Stanford Law School, where Gould has presided since joining the faculty in 1972, has managed to capture both of his passions in his latest book, Bargaining with Baseball: Labor Relations in an Age of Prosperous Turmoil (McFarland and Company, $39.95).

Bursting at the seams with stories of his childhood and a brief history of labor relations, Gould skillfully weaves a tale of innocence and experience in a land where baseball was king and a place for his devotion to justice to develop.

"This is something that has been in my bones all my life," Gould said recently. "What this allowed me to do was bring together these two great passions of my life. It's been in the making for a long time."

Gould has written nine books on international labor relations and labor law and over 60 law review articles. The former chairman of the National Labor Relations Board (where he cast teh deciding vote that ended baseball's strike of 1994-95) is the recipient of five honorary doctorates for his contributions in the fields of labor law and labor relations.

Get him talking about baseball and you'll find yourself lost in the child-like world of baseball, Fenway Park, the Boston Red Sox and the sandlots where he grew up playing ball, unsupervised, for hours.

Gould will be discussing his latest work at Books, Inc. in Mountain View on Tuesday at 7 p.m. He's also scheduled to appear on Stanford's student radio station, KZSU-FM 90.1, on Monday.

Gould will also make appearances at the Berkeley Institute of Labor Relations on Oct. 4 and at the Stanford Bookstore on Oct. 5.

"I've been crazy about the Red Sox all my life," Gould said. "I still have an unmitigated passion for the Sox. I feel as though all the ups and downs in my life correalates with all the ups and downs of the Red Sox."

As his interest in labor law grew, baseball began to undergo its own transformation in terms of labor relations.

The years of listening to the Red Sox on the radio, accumulating statistics by the ream, of being consumed by baseball gave way to the fertile, educational years spent studying the law.

At the same time, men like Curt Flood began challenging things like the reserve clause in baseball, free agency, the right to unionize and collective bargaining.

"It seemed like serendipity," Gould said. "Labor law became part of baseball. I know a lot of fans bemoaned this. I didn't. I thought it added a dimension. I'm a great believer in collective bargaining for employees generally."

Since becoming a labor lawywer, Gould has watcdhed baseball expand from 16 teams to its current total of 30. Broadcasting rights, major league properties and other cottage industries also expanded, creating unbelievable wealth and other financial opportunities.

Gould was ready to immerse himself into all of it, both as a fan and a lawyer.

The year he graduated from the University of Rhode Island, both the Giants and Dodgers made their debuts in cities on the west coast.

When he graduated from the Cornell University Law School in 1961, the American League had just added two more teams. The National League would follow suit the next year.

When he spent the next two years studying at the London School of Economics, he depended on his father to mail the standings of the American League to him to keep up with baseball.

"He endulged me," Gould said. "He felt I was a little out of balance."

These days he's come to depend on his own son to keep him informed of the newer players Boston has called to the majors. He felt a certain bond with Stanford grad Jed Lowrie, who currently plays with the Red Sox.

By the time he got to Stanford, the student revolution swept the nation, the establishment was being questioned and the first baseball labor strike was about to blossom.

Even the Red Sox got to the World Series in 1967, with the background of a tumultuous year in America. For Gould, these were the best of the times.

Gould attends as many Red Sox games as he can when they come to Oakland and San Francisco, among the other teams he comes to watch.

Perhaps the best moments came when the media left then Giants manager Dusty Baker's office after a game, and only Gould and the late Leonard Koppett, a former Menlo Park resident who wrote and edited for the defunct Peninsula Times-Tribune, remained to discuss the events of the day.

"We talked frequently about what transpired that day," Gould fondly remembers.

Even now Gould feels the ebb and flow of life is somehow connected with the ebb and flow of baseball. Reading his book will remind you of that. His stories are about as good as it gets.

We can't do it without you.
Support local journalism.


Like this comment
Posted by Mark Weiss
a resident of Barron Park
on Oct 30, 2011 at 11:21 pm

Great man, great read, great to see him speak out against Measure D. No on D.

Like this comment
Posted by Solon
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Nov 1, 2011 at 1:50 pm

Yes on D Common Sense Need to be the way to go

City and Unions should make their own decisions, not have anything imposed on either by "consultant" arbitrators paid by the hour, to do whatever THEY want with a few hours of study

almost ALL cities follow the NO BINDING ARBITRATION approach, Palo ALto should do.

Bill Gould is a great guy, preaching to the choir tho he is

Like this comment
Posted by Mark Weiss
a resident of Barron Park
on Nov 13, 2011 at 9:46 am

not sure i like your chin music, buster

home team bats last.

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

Be the first to know

Get the latest headlines sent straight to your inbox every day.

Downtown Palo Alto gets new Vietnamese eatery
By Elena Kadvany | 15 comments | 6,458 views

Environmentalists will soon be fighting housing advocates over what to do with the SF Bay locally
By Diana Diamond | 25 comments | 1,332 views

On Metaphor and Mortality
By Aldis Petriceks | 0 comments | 1,167 views

Premarital and Existing Couples: Marriage Rules: Yours, Mine, or Ours?
By Chandrama Anderson | 0 comments | 923 views

Big Island Food Party!
By Laura Stec | 4 comments | 662 views


Short story writers wanted!

The 33rd Annual Palo Alto Weekly Short Story Contest is now accepting entries for Adult, Young Adult (15-17) and Teen (12-14) categories. Send us your short story (2,500 words or less) and entry form by March 29. First, Second and Third Place prizes awarded in each category.

Contest Details