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  • The Cobra’s Contract: Revisiting Dave Parker’s 1979 Contract With the Pittsburg Pirates

    Re-examining Dave Parker’s 1979 contract negotiations is valuable because it provides an excellent representative case study reflecting the shifting power dynamic that was occurring between the owners and players in Major League Baseball during a period of critical change within the league. In addition, there were a number of distinctive facets to the contract itself, as well as several unique aspects related to the performance of the contract by the parties, that have given the contract great historical significance and make it a compelling topic for review and analysis. This article is unique in that it addresses all the issues related to Parker’s 1979 contract, from the negotiations and formation of the contract, to the various legal issues related to the parties’ performance under the contract. Also, this article provides a distinctive approach of the subject by relying heavily upon source documents, such as original court records, the player contract that was executed by the parties and approved by the league, correspondence between the principle players involved in the contract negotiation and formation, and official team and league internal communications. Because prior published accounts related to this topic tended to rely mostly on secondary or tertiary sources, those versions sometimes contained factual inaccuracies, which in turn may have resulted in misleading conclusions in certain cicumstances. One of the main contributions of this article is the presentation of accurate information from reliable source documents on the various legal issues related to Parker’s 1979 contract. In particular, this article primarily focuses on the unique nature of Parker’s deferred compensation scheme, and the contractual implications of his use of cocaine.