Labor History Seminar: Sarah Rose, University of Texas, and Joshua Salzmann, University of Illinois

Friday, October 14, 2011

3:00 pm to 5:00 pm

Room 101

Center for American History and Culture Programs
Labor History Seminar

“Bionic Ballplayers: The Contractual Construction of Fitness in Major League Baseball, 1964- 2007
Sarah Rose, University of Texas at Arlington and Joshua Salzmann, University of Illinois at Chicago
Why have professional ballplayers come under fire for using steroids when other career-enhancing medical innovations, such as “Tommy John surgery,” have been celebrated? The contemporary debate over steroids is not only a matter of morality, but also one of political economy. Starting in the 1970s, changes in the business of baseball created incentives for ballplayers, owners, and doctors to exploit new medical technologies and fitness regimes to manage players’ bodies. The product of political economy, biology, and biotechnology, these “bionic ballplayers” were bigger, stronger and more fragile than their predecessors. While players’ labors filled teams’ coffers, they were condemned for harnessing new technologies to maximize their earnings.

Commentators: Josef Barton, Northwestern University and Joseph C. Bigott, Purdue University Calumet

Scholl Center Seminar papers are pre-circulated electronically.  For a copy of the paper, e-mail the Scholl Center at  Please do not request a paper unless you plan to attend.