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Curt Flood

From Academic Kids

Curt Flood (January 18, 1938January 20, 1997) was an American center fielder in Major League Baseball. He was born in Houston, Texas.

A three-time All-Star and seven-time winner of the Gold Glove Award for his defensive prowess in center field, Flood hit more than .300 six times during a 15-year major league career that began in 1956. In the seventh game of the 1968 World Series, Flood misjudged a fly ball which ultimately led to the Detroit Tigers winning the series.

After the 1969 season, the St. Louis Cardinals traded Flood, Tim McCarver, Byron Browne, and Joe Hoerner to the Philadelphia Phillies on October 7, 1969, for slugger Dick Allen, Cookie Rojas, and Jerry Johnson. Flood disliked his trade to Philadelphia which then had a poor team and played its games in an old stadium, before usually belligerent and perhaps even racist fans.

He first asked Commissioner Bowie Kuhn to declare him a free agent in this letter:

      December 24, 1969

      Mr. Bowie K. Kuhn, Commissioner of Baseball, 
     680 Fifth Avenue, New York, New York 10019.

      After twelve years in the Major Leagues, I do not feel I am 
    a piece of property to be bought and sold irrespective of my 
    wishes. I believe that any system which produces that result 
    violates my basic rights as a citizen and is inconsistent 
    with the laws of the United States and of the sovereign 
    States.

      It is my desire to play baseball in 1970, and I am capable 
    of playing. I have received a contract offer from the 
    Philadelphia Club, but I believe I have the right to consider 
    offers from other clubs before making any decisions. I, 
    therefore, request that you make known to all Major League 
    Clubs my feelings in this matter, and advise them of my 
    availability for the 1970 season.

      Sincerely Yours, Curt Flood.


Kuhn denied his request. He filed suit on January 16, 1970, stating that baseball had violated the nation's antitrust laws. Even though he was making $90,000 at the time, Flood likened "being owned" to "being a slave 100 years ago." The case went to the Supreme Court, with former Supreme Court Justice Arthur Goldberg pressing his case. The Supreme Court ruled in favor of organized baseball (Flood v. Kuhn 407 U.S. 258 1972, which upheld an earlier ruling, Federal Baseball Club v. National League, 259 U.S. 200 1922).

Even though Flood lost the lawsuit, the baseball reserve clause was mortally wounded. Within five years, the reserve clause was all but dead.

Flood wrote an autobiography entitled The Way It Is.

Flood died of throat cancer in Los Angeles, California, at age 59.

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