Nathaniel Grow


Buried deep within the 2,232-page omnibus federal spending bill passed by Congress in March 2018 was an obscure, halfpage provision entitled the "Save America's Pastime Act" (SAPA). The SAPA was inserted into the spending bill at the last minute at the behest of Major League Baseball (MLB) following several years-and several million dollars' worthof lobbying efforts. MLB pursued the legislation to insulate its minor league pay practices from legal challenge after they had become the subject of a federal class action lawsuit alleging that the league's teams failed to pay minor league players in accordance with the Fair Labor Standards Act's (FLSA) minimum-wage and overtime provisions. The SAPA helps shield MLB from these claims by creating a new statutory exemption largely excluding most professional baseball players from the protections of the FLSA.

This Article provides the first substantive analysis of the SAPA. Specifically, it asserts that although initial assessments concluded that the provision would shield MLB from any future liability for its minor league pay practices, a closer reading of the statute reveals that it contains several potential ambiguities that could give rise to unanticipated liability for the league. Nevertheless, the Article asserts that the SAPA significantly reduces the odds that MLB will be forced to make substantial changes to its minor league pay practices in the future. At the same time, the Article evaluates the broader implications of the SAPA for federal minimum wage and maximum-hour law generally. *