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Does the ADA open the door for teams full of walking midgets?


DrungoHazewood

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Interesting bit from the Sports Law Blog asks the question "does the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) invalidate the precedent that the commissioner of baseball can refuse to accept the contract of little people like Eddie Gaedel?"

Most of you know the story of Gaedel, the midget Bill Veeck signed and let pinch hit for the St. Louis Browns. He walked in his only plate appearance (of course) and had his contract rejected by the commish the next day.

Once rosters expand in September I'd love to see a team sign 10 or 15 little people to be pinch hitters. My Lord, can you imagine a game Daniel Cabrera started where the other team used a lineup of nine guys under four feet tall? The first inning might never end. If it did, they'd just sub out all the short guys for real players in the bottom of the first. Obviously this wouldn't work very well before rosters expand.

It's a competitive advantage - the Orioles should do it. And if Bud tries to stop it they'll get Big Pete to file an ADA suit.

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Maybe they can get an ADA exemption to go along with their Anti-trust exemption? (Seriously.)

Actually, you're probably onto something. Baseball's antitrust exemption arose because Congress declared baseball wasn't interstate commerce. Does the ADA only affect interstate commerce? I've never really looked into that.

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Actually, you're probably onto something. Baseball's antitrust exemption arose because Congress declared baseball wasn't interstate commerce. Does the ADA only affect interstate commerce? I've never really looked into that.

Expansive commerce clause. Even if the employment is wholly intra-state, the effect of the discrimination is felt across state lines.

(2) Covered entity

The term "covered entity" means an employer, employment agency, labor organization, or joint labor-management committee.

(A) In general

The term "employer" means a person engaged in an industry affecting commerce who has 15 or more employees for each working day in each of 20 or more calendar weeks in the current or preceding calendar year, and any agent of such person, except that, for two years following the effective date of this subchapter, an employer means a person engaged in an industry affecting commerce who has 25 or more employees for each working day in each of 20 or more calendar weeks in the current or preceding year, and any agent of such person.

(B) Exceptions

The term "employer" does not include

(i) the United States, a corporation wholly owned by the government of the United States, or an Indian tribe; or

(ii) a bona fide private membership club (other than a labor organization) that is exempt from taxation under section 501© of title 26.

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The law:

(2) Disability

The term "disability" means, with respect to an individual

(A) a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more of the major life activities of such individual;

(B) a record of such an impairment; or

© being regarded as having such impairment.

link

Apparently dwarfism is covered under the ADA link

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More to the point, would a team of midgets give a competitive advantage? Couldn't pitchers throw into the small strike zone at 40 miles per hour?

Gaedel was 3' 7" tall and "batted" in a crouch. I'm guessing his strike zone, by the modern definition of knees to belt, was about 6" high. I'd bet most pitchers couldn't reliably hit that area 3/7ths of the time.

In 2007 the average AL team scores 0.58 runs in the first inning. So that's our baseline. The team o' little people would have to average more than 0.58 runs per inning for this to be an advantage.

I started to try to figure out the odds of a team of players with .300/.500/.700 OBPs scoring X number of runs an inning only on walks. My elementary probabilty is a bit rusty and it quickly got out of hand... I'll have to work on this. There's definitely some break-even point, and I'd like to know what that is.

Edit: this will take about a 10-line program to do a simple Monte Carlo type simulation. When I get time at home I'll try this out.

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MANAGING EDITOR'S NOTE: The politically correct term for the short-statured to whom Jon Wilt inoccuously referred to as "midgets" is "little people."

Direct from the Little People of America's "FAQ's" site found here...

Q: What is a midget?

A: In some circles, a midget is the term used for a proportionate dwarf. However, the term has fallen into disfavor and is considered offensive by most people of short stature. The term dates back to 1865, the height of the "freak show" era, and was generally applied only to short-statured persons who were displayed for public amusement, which is why it is considered so unacceptable today.

Carry on. ;)

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The PGA lost their case to require Casey Martin to play without using a golf cart because the courts decided that walking from hole to hole was not a fundamental part of the game. MLB could argue that a midget wasn't a legitimate ballplayer because he wouldn't be able to play adequately on defense; run the bases well; or hit for average. Of course, there is a precedent for baseball signing players out of high school, so if a midget were able to play regularly in an ordinary league at any level, he might have a case -- providing that an MLB team was willing to sign him.

I think that the counter would be to have the pitcher groove the pitches, move the infielders in to bunt distance, and move the outfielders into just behind the bases. I doubt if a midget could hit the ball out of the infield or run fast enough to make it safely to first if he did manage to hit the ball. Most major league pitchers ought to be able to place their pitches within a midget's minuscule strike zone if they only concerned themselves with location and not with velocity or movement.

The inability to play defense might not be a valid argument, now that the DH has opened up baseball to one dimensional ballplayers. If a GM could find some midgets with marginal running speed -- say roughly the level of a Yadi Molina or an Ernie Lombardi -- then he might be able to get away with signing them solely to DH in September.

The cost to a team would be about $60K per player, assuming that they only played for the month of September, given that they'd have to be paid the ML minimum.

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