FORT WORTH — The Texas Collegiate Baseball League, which was forced to shut down in 2007 after several team owners announced that they were not returning to play, has won a $2.9 million judgment in a civil case that accused the teams of violating state antitrust laws.Tarrant County state District Judge Don Cosby issued his final ruling last week against team owner and Colleyville businessman Fred “Brit” Britton for a jury award that includes attorneys fees.Gerald Haddock, president of the Haddock Foundation, which is also the majority owner of the league, said in an interview that he was disappointed that a group of team owners were found to have violated antitrust laws, but he was also pleased that the jury sided with the league.“Starting the baseball league was really a passion of mine, and I was really disappointed that the group did what they did. But I was pleased with the jury verdict, which vindicated and validated our recovery theory,” he said.Repeated attempts by the Star-Telegram to contact Britton and his attorney Michael Hindman were unsuccessful.In 2007, the trouble began for the Texas Collegiate league — a summer wooden bat league for college players — when seven of the nine teams told Haddock they were not going to renew their contracts because they were losing money, thus forcing a shutdown of the league.Haddock sued the teams, accusing them of violating Texas antitrust laws, and said the teams “boycotted” the league. Haddock said in his lawsuit that the teams’ actions were a “textbook example of an illegal group boycott” and a violation of Texas antitrust laws.The teams named in the suit were the Denton Outlaws, Duncanville Deputies, Coppell Copperheads, Colleyville LoneStars, Wichita Falls Roughnecks, Mineral Wells Steam and the Weatherford Wranglers.The league later reached out of court confidential settlements with the teams with the exception of Britton.The teams not named in the suit were the Brazos Valley Bombers and the McKinney Marshals.The league started playing in 2004 with the thought that some of the games would be televised. But team owners said they were losing money.Retired Star-Telegram sports columnists Jim Reeves and Randy Galloway were investors in the Wranglers. Reeves told the newspaper at the time that it cost the Wranglers $160,000 to $200,000 to play and that the team was losing around $50,000 a year.Haddock said he licensed the rights of the Texas Collegiate League to the Brazos Valley Bombers, because the team wanted to keep playing and also brought other teams into the league.Haddock said the $2.9 million award will help the foundation move forward with activities, including summer baseball camps for children where they get to learn from college players.
Elizabeth Campbell, 817-390-7696 Twitter: @fwstliz