NEW YORK — There’s only one “Evil Empire” in baseball. And the New York Yankees have won a legal victory to make sure it stays that way.
A panel of judges in Washington, D.C., issued a ruling this month against a company called Evil Enterprises that has been trying since 2008 to trademark the phrase “Baseballs Evil Empire.” The company sells T-shirts and hats that mash up familiar Yankees iconography with pitchforks and devil’s tails.
The Yankees opposed the application, and in their decision, the judges agreed that the team alone owned the term, at least in connection with baseball.
Evil Enterprises lawyer Gerard Dunne told The Wall Street Journal he hadn’t decided yet whether to appeal.
The term, as applied to the Yankees, actually originates with Boston Red Sox President Larry Lucchino, who called the Yankees the “evil empire” after they signed Cuban pitcher Jose Contreras in 2002.
Ronald Regan famously called the Soviet Union an “evil empire” in 1983. That was the year “Return of the Jedi” was released.
Lucchino meant it as an insult, but the Yankees loved it. The team has been playing Star Wars music at Yankee Stadium ever since.