Did Sonia Sotomayor save baseball 27 years ago?

U.S. Supreme Court justice Sonia Sotomayor. Photo by Paul Marotta (Getty Images)

While appointing Sonia Sotomayor as a justice for the Supreme Court in 2009, then-President Barack Obama caught a few people by surprise when he said, “Some say Judge Sotomayor saved baseball.”

That might seem like a serious case of hyperbole, but it’s not too farfetched for some who praise Sotomayor, the only Hispanic and Latina to serve on the Supreme Court, for her role in ending a Major League Baseball strike in 1995, according to Time.

At the time, Sotomayor was the youngest judge in New York’s Southern District at age 40 as she presided over a case that was going to have a major impact on a strike that prematurely ended the 1994 season and canceled the World Series.

Team owners unilaterally eliminated free-agent negotiations and salary arbitrations during negotiations for a new collective-bargaining agreement, and the players association took owners to court over the issue.

After a two-hour hearing in which she heard both sides, Sotomayor ruled in favor of the players.

An injunction was issued against the owners, ordering them to restore free agency and arbitration while a new collective-bargaining agreement was negotiated.

Players returned to work, and weeks later, the strike was over after a collective-bargaining agreement was constructed.

Sotomayor said to litigators that she didn’t know anything about the issue before delving into the case, but that having grown up minutes from Yankee Stadium in the Bronx, New York, she was a baseball fan.

“You can’t grow up in the South Bronx without knowing about baseball,” said Sotomayor, according to Time.

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Keith is a member of Graham Media Group's Digital Content Team, which produces content for all the company's news websites.