Sotomayor helped in '95 baseball strike

Updated: May 26, 2009, 1:14 PM ET
ESPN.com news services

Judge Sonia Sotomayor, nominated Tuesday by President Barack Obama to fill a vacant Supreme Court seat, is no stranger to the sports world.

Sotomayor helped end the 1995 Major League Baseball strike with a ruling against Major League Baseball owners in their collective bargaining dispute with players, and also was part of a three-judge U.S. Court of Appeals panel that overturned a lower court ruling that temporarily allowed Ohio State running back Maurice Clarett to enter the NFL draft despite the fact he hadn't been out of high school for three years.

Sotomayor, an ardent New York Yankees fan, issued an injunction against baseball team owners in 1995 for alleged violations of the National Labor Relations Act. The owners had sought to end the existing free agency and salary arbitration systems and imposed a lock-out against players as negotiations crumbled. The ruling ended the strike, which had begun on Aug. 12, 1994 and ended up cancelling the World Series that season.

By March 29, 1995, the MLB players association voted to return to work if Sotomayor ruled against the owners. She did on March 31, and the 232-day strike ended two days later.

The ruling was later upheld on appeal.

"Some say that Judge Sotomayor saved baseball," Obama said in announcing his choice.

In the NFL ruling, Sotomayor was part of the appeals court panel which reaffirmed the NFL's eligibility rule, which says that players must be out of high school for at least three years before they can be drafted or sign as a free agent.