Frank D. Lawrence, owner of the Portsmouth, VA, club, files a $250,000 suit against Commissioner Ford Frick and Major League Baseball for breach of contract

Feb 9, 1959 | Legal

On February 9 1959 – Frank D. Lawrence, owner of the Portsmouth, VA, club, files a $250,000 suit against Commissioner Ford Frick and Major League Baseball for breach of contract, alleging that broadcasts of major league games effectively forced him out of business.

The $250,000 suit charging major league baseball with killing a minor league club through radio and television went to trial to­day. But none of the prime witnesses showed up.

Commissioner Ford Frick, a defendant along with the 16 major league clubs, was among the missing. He is scheduled to appear tomorrow.

The suit, filed almost four years ago, was brought by Frank D. Lawrence, the president of the now-defunct Portsmouth, Va., a club in the Piedmont League.

His lawyer told a U. S. dis­trict court today that Frick “aided and abetted” the major league clubs when they “ap­propriated the territory of the plaintiff, invaded and intruded upon it, in violation of his rights,” through the broadcast­ing and telecasting of major league games.

As a result, the lawyer said, Lawrence was driven out of a business producing an annual income of $50,000. “We are pre­pared to prove,” he added, “that minor league baseball is fast disappearing because of television and radio activities of the defendants.”

The defense lawyer ex­plained Frick’s absence today by saying Lawrence and his at­torney “had four years in which to inform us they were going to call Mr. Frick as a witness, and we were served at 11 A.M. to­day with a subpoena calling for his appearance at noon today. Mr. Frick is engaged in public commitments today, but he will be here tomorrow/’

Lawrence’s attorney said another witness, Branch Rickey, a longtime front-office official in the majors, had to be ex­cused because of illness. He added that A. B. (Happy) Chandler, former baseball com­missioner and now governor of Kentucky, is unable to leave Kentucky for several weeks, but that deposition from Chandler will be offered.


Learn More about the teams, players, ball parks and events that happened on this date in history just click the tags! 1959 | February 9 | Ford Frick | Happy Chandler