Monday, January 16, 2017

1970: Curt Flood filed historic lawsuit against Major League Baseball


Curt Flood was a pretty good baseball player.  He was a career .293 hitter and an important piece of the St Louis power team that won 3 National League pennants in 1964, 1967 and 1968.   He was on a team that included Lou Brock, Bob Gibson, Orlando Cepeda, Tim McCarver and quite a few others.
On this day in 1970, Curt Flood filed a lawsuit against major league baseball:
After the Cardinals traded Flood to the Philadelphia Phillies in October 1969, Flood wrote a letter to Kuhn in late December, protesting the league’s player reserve clause, which prevented players from moving to another team unless they were traded. Kuhn denied Flood’s request to be made a free agent, and Flood decided to sue. In Flood v. Kuhn, the historic case that followed, Flood argued that the reserve clause violated antitrust laws and violated the 13th Amendment, which barred slavery and involuntary servitude.
“On June 19, 1972, the U.S. Supreme Court rules against Curt Flood in Flood v. Kuhn, denying Flood free agency as a baseball player. Flood was trying to break the reserve clause that had tied baseball players to one franchise since the establishment of professional baseball.”
Eventually, the players’ union won the “free agency” fight in 1976 after 2 strikes and several court appeals.  The net result is that “Free agency” changed the game and blew up the owners’ monopoly.  
Flood never got to make the big bucks but he had a lot to do with the benefits that the players enjoy today.  He was the one who challenged the system and took a bullet for the union.
Flood died in 1997.


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