The Vermillion Rotary Club held its weekly luncheon meeting on Tuesday, Jan. 29, at the Neuharth Center on the campus of USD. President David Hussey opened the meeting, and he also gave the invocation.
This was followed by a round of singing, announcements, and the introduction of guests including three seniors from Vermillion High School. Rotarian Joe Edelen introduced John Hagemann as our speaker for the day. Professor Hagemann came to USD in 1968 and is currently a professor of law at the USD School of Law. His topic for the day was entitled "Baseball and the Law".
Professor Hagemann said that if one were to separate the business of baseball from the game itself, then baseball is still a great game. He said that one game in particular is more intricately linked to the American culture than any other. That game is 'litigation'.
He went on to say that Americans also watch a lot of baseball. He said that a number of parallels exist between the law and baseball. As an example he referred to the legal phrase "Dismissal without prejudice" closely parallels a statement by Yogi Berra that "The game ain't over 'till it's over". He also said that some coaches who coach like lawyers are punctiliously observant of the rules above all else. Good coaches know that the game transcends the rules.
Professor Hagemann also said that whoever wants to know the heart and mind of America had better know baseball with all its rules and jargon. In like manner lawyers have to learn a new language as well as re-examine that language which he or she thinks they know. As they come to know the realities of the law they come to know the heart and mind of America.
With regard to the mind of America he reminded us of George Will – a political observer as well as a baseball fan. George Will believes that the difference between conservatives and liberals is a matter of temperment as well as attitude. Liberals see the world as basically good.
Will says that conservative, as well as Cubs fans, know better. The world is a dark and forbidding and fickle place. Good lawyers need to remember that theirs is not the only worldview. This is also true of baseball.
Justice is the constant concern of every lawyer. However, they must keep in mind that justice might be right with regard to the law in general, but might also be unjust in a specific case. Lawyers take the law seriously but the good ones don't take it too seriously. Likewise, baseball must be played for the enjoyment of the game and not just be played to adhere to the rules.
Professor Hagemann's advice to incoming law students is to not take the law too seriously. It will affect your performance if you do. You can do the work or you wouldn't be in law school. Above all, enjoy the experience.
The same advice goes for baseball players. Don't take the game too seriously or it will affect your performance. You can play the game or you wouldn't be here. Above all, enjoy the game.