I am pleased God made my skin black, but I wish He had made it thicker
.”–Curt Flood The request seemed simple enough. He wanted to work wherehe wanted and for whom he wanted and be paid a wage he hadearned. By both his peers and acclimation in the media he was thoughtto be among the best at what he did. If only it really were that simple.But Curt Flood did not have an ordinary job in an ordinary time.He was a black baseball player in the late 1960’s. The rules in all of society were being challenged. On October 8, 1969, Flood was tradedby the St. Louis Cardinals, his employer of 12 years, to the PhiladelphiaPhillies.
For as long as baseball had been America’s past time playerswere traded from one team to another, but Flood felt that he deservedbetter than being treated “like a piece of property.”
Specifically, he feltit was time to challenge baseball’s hallowed Reserve Clause.
The Reserve Clause was part of the standard player’s contractthat baseball owners had with all players. The standard player’scontract dates back, in its original form, to the late 1870s. It wasaround this time that baseball owners realized the value of players totheir respective franchises. It was in their best interest to keep their
Lomax, Michael E. (2004). Curt Flood Stood Up for Us: The Quest to Break Down Racial Barriers andStructural Inequality in Major League Baseball.
Culture, Sport and Society
. 6 (2-3) 44-70.
Snyder, Brad. (2006).
A Well-Paid Slave: Curt Flood’s Fight for Free Agency in Professional Sports.
NewYork: Viking Penguin.
Flood, Curt & Carter, Richard. (1971).
The Way It Is
. New York: Trident Press.