The news yesterday that Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor will be throwing out the ceremonial first pitch at this Saturday's New York Yankees home game came as little surprise to Brad Snyder.
The University of Wisconsin Law School professor has written extensively about the long relationship between the Supreme Court and baseball, and he already thinks Sotomayor is "the most important federal judge in the history of baseball besides Judge Kenesaw Mountain Landis." Sotomayor's 1995 ruling as a federal district court judge ending the baseball strike, Snyder said, prevented the corrosive long-term damage to baseball that other sports strikes have caused. President Obama mentioned her baseball ruling as one of Sotomayor's claims to fame when he nominated her on May 26.
Snyder also noted that as a diehard Yankees fan, Sotomayor represents a new generation of baseball devotees on the high court. "Five years from now, Sotomayor and Samuel Alito Jr. will have replaced John Paul Stevens, Harry Blackmun, and Potter Stewart, as baseball's biggest fans on the high court," said Snyder, formerly in private practice at Williams & Connolly in D.C.
Sotomayor is throwing the ball at the new Yankees Stadium as part of the team's Hispanic Heritage Month. "Having Justice Sotomayor, a South Bronx native, participate in our yearly Hispanic Heritage Month celebration is very exciting, as she is an inspiration to so many," said Manuel García, Yankees director of Latino affairs.
Footnote: In case you were wondering about Judge Landis, he was the first federal judge to become known as having "saved baseball," back in 1915. The Federal League had filed an antitrust challenge to Major League baseball, claiming it was a huge illegal trust. Knowing it was a hot potato, Landis sat on the case without acting on it until the Federal League folded. Landis then became baseball commissioner. "Justice Sotomayor is a much better judge than Judge Landis," said Snyder.