The U.S. Congress has a long history with the game of
baseball. The first congressional hearing mentioning baseball
was the 1921 impeachment investigation of baseball
commissioner and Judge Kenesaw Mountain Landis. A year
later, the Supreme Court’s decision in Federal Baseball Club v.
National League exempted baseball from federal antitrust laws,
giving Congress its primary justification to hold oversight
hearings on the sport.
As Congress has exercised its authority to hold these oversight
hearings, it has regularly used that authority to call Major
League Baseball players as witnesses at its hearings. At least
forty-eight different major league players have testified at thirtyeight separate hearings for a total of seventy appearances. The subjects of testimony have included South Africa’s apartheid policies, drug sentencing guidelines, the fitness of a nominee for the Supreme Court, and the reserve clause. These appearances include then-active and former players; a player who played 3,026 games (Stan Musial) and a player who played only seventeen (Cy Block); folk heroes (Mickey Mantle) and convicted felons (Willie Aikens). By far the most common player to be called before Congress—not surprisingly given his status as a player, public figure, and civil rights icon—was Jackie Robinson, who appeared nine times over twenty-one years. Jim Bunning, David Cone, Joe Garagiola, and Robin Roberts each testified three times.