A University of Wisconsin law professor, Brad Snyder teaches constitutional law, civil procedure, twentieth century American legal history, and sports law. He has written two critically acclaimed books about baseball and numerous law review articles about constitutional history including the Supreme Court’s mishandling of the case of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg; the divided jurisprudence of Chief Justice John Roberts based on his judicial clerkships with Henry Friendly and William Rehnquist; and the unknown aftermath of Rehnquist’s segregationist clerkship memo to Justice Robert Jackson. Snyder has contributed articles to Slate and the Washington Post and appeared on ESPN, C-SPAN, and in HBO and New York Times documentaries.
A 1999 Yale Law School graduate, Snyder served as a law clerk for the Honorable Dorothy W. Nelson on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. For nearly three years, he worked as an associate at Williams and Connolly LLP, a Washington, D.C. law firm, until he left to write his second book. For eight years, he lived two blocks away from the still-standing House of Truth. Prior to teaching law, Snyder wrote A Well-Paid Slave: Curt Flood’s Fight for Free Agency in Professional Sports (Viking/Penguin, 2006). The book tells the story of Curt Flood, an all-star center fielder for the St. Louis Cardinals who rejected a trade to the Philadelphia Phillies and took baseball to the Supreme Court. Flood sued baseball over the “reserve clause,” a contractual provision that bound the players to their teams for life. Although the Court narrowly ruled against Flood, his lawsuit paved the way for free agency. The New York Times Book Review said: “Generations of ballplayers — Curt Flood’s children — have never honored him properly. But with his fine book, Brad Snyder surely has.” George F. Will said: “Brad Snyder shows why Flood was Dred Scott in spikes.” The Washington Post named A Well-Paid Slave among the top 100 books of 2006. In 2011, Snyder and his book were prominently featured in the HBO Sports documentary, The Curious Case of Curt Flood. In 2015, the Huffington Post named A Well-Paid Slave one of the 50 greatest baseball books of all time.
Snyder’s first book, Beyond the Shadow of the Senators: The Untold Story of the Homestead Grays and the Integration of Baseball (Contemporary Books, 2003), recounts the story of the Homestead Grays, one of the greatest teams in the history of the Negro Leagues. From 1940 to 1950, the Grays played their home games at Griffith Stadium when the Washington Senators, one of the worst teams in the major leagues, were out of town. The contrast between the two teams made Washington, D.C. the focal point of the black press’s campaign to integrate major league baseball. The New York Times Book Review wrote that Snyder “gives a rich panorama of Washington as it evolved from a Southern provincial town to a large city with a black majority . . . Snyder’s book is not just the history of a team but the tale of one city in all its social complexity.” Beyond the Shadow of the Senators received starred advance reviews from Publishers Weekly (“Well-documented and enjoyable… a fascinating and largely untold story.”) and Booklist (“A fascinating little-known chapter in the familiar story of baseball’s color line.”). Booklist also named Beyond the Shadow of the Senators one of the 10 best African-American non-fiction books of 2003. Beyond the Shadow of the Senators began as Snyder’s prize-winning senior honors thesis at Duke University.
As a Duke undergraduate, Snyder wrote about the men’s basketball team for the Washington Post and published articles about college basketball in Basketball America and the Raleigh News and Observer. He also covered Tampa cops and courts for a summer at the St. Petersburg Times, and worked as a research assistant on two sports books, Hard Courts and Play Ball, by best-selling author John Feinstein.
After graduating from Duke in 1994, Snyder spent two years as a reporter at the Baltimore Sun, where he covered the Baltimore Orioles for a season and a half, as well as Baltimore city crime and Capitol Hill. While covering the Orioles, Snyder wrote a fourteen-part series on Cal Ripken Jr. during the season that Ripken broke Lou Gehrig’s consecutive games streak. At the Sun, Snyder decided to go to law school after witnessing his first Supreme Court oral argument about a pro football labor dispute argued by Ken Starr.
Snyder, 44, lives in Washington, D.C. with his wife Shelby, daughter Lily, and son Max.