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” –Curt Flood The request seemed simple enough. He wanted to work where he wanted and for whom he wanted and be paid a wage he had earned. By both his peers and acclimation in the media he was thought to 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 traded by the St. Louis Cardinals, his employer of 12 years, to the Philadelphia Phillies.1 For as long as baseball had been America’s past time players were traded from one team to another, but Flood felt that he deserved better than being treated “like a piece of property.”2 Specifically, he felt it was time to challenge baseball’s hallowed Reserve Clause.3 The Reserve Clause was part of the standard player’s contract that baseball owners had with all players. The standard player’s contract dates back, in its original form, to the late 1870s. It was around this time that baseball owners realized the value of players to their 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 and Structural 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. New York: Viking Penguin.
Flood, Curt & Carter, Richard. (1971). The Way It Is. New York: Trident Press.
2 best players perpetually employed if only for the sake of keeping the teams’ value as a business enterprise.4 During the later years of the nineteenth century several baseball leagues were in existence with varying degrees of profitability. They were effectively in competition with each other for both fans and for players. The only league still in existence from this time period is the National League, which was formed in 1876 and continues to the present day.5 In 1890, the United States Congress passed the Sherman Antitrust Act.6 The Sherman Act, as it became known, was meant to promote competition and prevent monopolies among companies within an industry—specifically the oil and railroad industries that were both dominated by a few companies.7 Professional baseball was thought to be neither large enough nor profitable enough to be among the industries that the Sherman Act might affect. That would change shortly after the start of the 20th century. Regulators began enforcing the Sherman Act, and its power was confirmed in 1910 when the Supreme Court ordered the powerful
Balfour, Alan & Porter, Philip K. 1991. The Reserve Clause in Professional Sports: Legality and Effect on Competitive Balance. Labor Law Journal. January 1991. 8-18. 5 Balfour & Porter 8.
Sherman Antitrust Act, ch. 647, 26 Stat. 209, 15 U.S.C. § 1–7 (1890) Ibid.
3 Standard Oil Company to be dissolved because it was essentially monopolizing the oil industry.8 From a player’s a point of view, the Reserve Clause essentially meant that the player was beholden forever to the team that initially signed him to a contract. The player could only change teams if he was traded, sold or released from his contract by the team.9 If the term “sold” sounds harsh with respect to the services of a human being consider that perhaps the Boston Red Sox sold perhaps the greatest player in history—Babe Ruth—to the New York Yankees in 1918 for $100,000.10 Ruth, like every other player, had no freedom of movement. But the Reserve Clause affected every player, not just the superstars. The only way a player’s value, meaning his salary, increased was through excellence on the playing field. So, what if a very good player but had the misfortune to play behind an even better player? He might never have a chance to take the field and demonstrate his talents. The classic example of a player taking advantage of his one, and possibly only chance, is, Lou Gehrig. The now-legendary first baseman was on the New York Yankees for two full seasons before an opportunity to play on a regular basis arrived. The starting first baseman, Wally
Martin, Philip L. 1972. The Labor Controversy in Professional Baseball: The Flood Case. Labor Law Journal. September 1972. 567-572.
4 Pipp, was in a batting slump and manager Miller Huggins decided to give Gehrig a chance. As most baseball fans know, once in the lineup, Gehrig stayed there for 14 straight seasons without missing a game. The year after being replaced by Gehrig, Pipp was traded to the Cincinnati Reds. In short, the careers of players were left up to the fates, but more often the players were at the whim of the managers or owners.1112 Still, even in the early part of the twentieth century not too much of the general public was sympathetic with baseball players, who, after all, were paid to play a game.13 They could work 14 to 16 hours a day in a factory, mill or mine. The players of the time knew this and they also knew that rejecting a contract might not guarantee a counter offer by the team owner, which could mean an end to a career on the baseball diamond and the beginning of one in the world of hard, manual labor. As a player, you had no say in where you worked. You could be sent to another team at a moment’s notice. There were no long-term contracts, as they were renewed (or not) on a yearly basis. When it came time to negotiate your contract for the coming season you were not permitted to have any sort of representation (i.e. an agent) when you met with the owner. If you did not like what the owner offered, you
Balfour & Porter 10-12. baseball-reference.com. Balfour & Porter 10-12.
5 could not shop your services elsewhere. The owner’s offer was quite literally “take it or leave it” or face the employment choices mentioned earlier. If you did not like the weather in the city where you played, then that was too bad. If you did not like your boss or your co-workers or the way the team was run, also too bad. Your only real option was to retire from baseball completely.14 If the Reserve Clause sounds like justification for legalized slavery, Curt Flood and his legal team felt the same way. The Thirteenth Amendment, which outlawed slavery in 1865, stated that: “Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as punishment for a crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.”15 Putting the legitimacy of the Reserve Clause to the test first came in 1922, when the Federal Baseball League challenged the antitrust exemption that baseball had been granted. Part and parcel of the exemption was the presence of the Reserve Clause. In 1913, there were two major leagues for baseball players, the more established National League, and the American League, which had been formed in 1901.16 There was no real relationship between the
Balfour & Porter 10-12
The U.S. Constitution and Fascinating Facts About It (7th Ed.). (2006). Naperville, IL: Oak Hill Publishing Company.
6 leagues, as league presidents rarely consulted each other and there was no commissioner who oversaw baseball as there is today. The only connection between the two leagues came in the fall, when the winners of each league played for the World Series. The Federal League was formed as a minor league in 1913.17 However, by placing franchises in cities that already had major league teams it became a competitor to the American and National Leagues. In order for the league to be viable to fans, the owners of Federal League teams attempted to sign stars from the other leagues. The most notable player to sign with the Federal League was the Hall of Fame pitcher Walter Johnson. Before the ink was dry on his new contract, Johnson’s previous team, the Washington Senators, owned by Clark Griffith, signed him to a new, more lucrative deal.18 The Federal League had very limited success in enticing players from the other leagues to play for them. By 1915 the league folded. Some teams were merged into existing National or American League teams, other terms were merged into one and became minor league teams in support of a team in the National or American League. One team, the Baltimore Terrapins, folded completely and took significant financial losses. The Terrapins filed suit against the National League saying it was in violation of the Sherman Act or antitrust regulations. A
Helyar, John. (1995). Lords of the Realm: The Real History of Baseball. New York: Ballantine Books. Snyder 20.
7 key part of the Terrapins’ argument was that the Reserve Clause restricted player movement. Players could not be lured financially to leave a National League or American League team and play for a rival league, such as the Federal League.19 In the first court case the Terrapins, arguing as the Federal League, actually won and were awarded $80,000. Under the provisions of the Sherman Act antitrust awards were tripled making the amount $240,000, which equates to just over $5.3 million in 2008 dollars, but it was hardly enough money to revive a team, let alone an entire league. The established leagues, arguing as the National League, appealed by seeking antitrust exemption and won in appeals court.20 The case eventually made its way before the Supreme Court in 1922 as Federal Baseball Club v. National League. On May 29, the William Taft-led court found unanimously in the National League’s favor, with famed jurist Oliver Wendell Holmes writing the opinion that baseball did not constitute interstate commerce and was in “the business of giving exhibitions, which are purely state affairs” thereby making it exempt from antitrust regulations.21 Antitrust experts genuinely agree that the Supreme Court’s decision was the correct one given the laws at the time.22 Legal experts felt that the Reserve Clause
Ibid. Snyder 20. Federal Baseball Club v. National League, 259 U.S. 200 (1922) Martin 567.
8 could only be reversed by one of two ways; either baseball owners themselves would abolish it or Congress would pass legislation to disallow baseball’s antitrust exemption. The former took place before the latter, when The Curt Flood Act of 1998 was passed.23 The next challenge to the Reserve Clause came in 1949. Danny Gardella was an outfielder for the New York Giants who, while being an awful fielder, hit 18 homeruns with a batting average of .272 in 1945.24 The 1945 season was the last season that baseball was affected by World War II. Many of baseball’s premier players, such as Ted Williams and Joe DiMaggio, were involved in the war effort and returned to the game in 1946. Many marginal players were pushed out of baseball, but Gardella was not. Even though officials with the Giants felt that most of his success was due to the lack of quality pitching because of the war, Gardella was still offered a raise of $500 up to $5,000 for the 1946 season. But Gardella never signed and showed up to spring training without a contract. Before the Giants could make a trade, Gardella signed a contract with a team in the Mexican League for $10,000. Fourteen other players followed suit. The baseball commissioner at the time, “Happy” Chandler, placed the players on the Restricted List, which essentially banned them from Major League
Curt Flood Act of 1998, Pub.L. 112 Stat. 2824, 15 U.S.C. § 27 (1998). Although passed largely as a tribute to Flood, who had died a year earlier, the act stripped baseball of what little antitrust immunity that remained.
9 Baseball forever.25 As a reference point, Pete Rose and Shoeless Joe Jackson are currently on baseball’s Restricted List. Gardella played in Mexico for a year and then returned to the States in 1947. He tried to play on a semi-pro team against a team from the Negro League. Earlier that year, Jackie Robinson had broken baseball’s color barrier and the better players in the Negro League sensed an opportunity on a bigger stage. Word came to Chandler that a Negro League team was about to play against a team with a player— Gardella—who was on the Restricted List. Even though he had no actual jurisdiction over either team involved, Chandler’s office had an announcement made over the public address system before the game began that warned players that if they participated in the game they would be added to the Restricted List. Among the players on the Negro League roster was the legendary pitcher Satchel Paige, who would ultimately play in the Major Leagues the following year. Paige, in his early forties at the time, realized that his window of opportunity was closing, and any incident that delayed his path to the major leagues, legal or otherwise, might close it permanently. It is probably safe to assume that Paige did not argue when the game was canceled.26 Gardella then sued major league baseball and in effect became the first player to legally challenge the Reserve Clause. His initial case
Snyder 21-23. Snyder 26.
10 was dismissed by a judge based on the application of the doctrine of stare decisis in the Federal League case.27 But Gardella appealed the dismissal and his case was accepted by the United States Court of Appeals, Second Circuit. The court found in Gardella’s favor, 2-1, and sent the case back to trial in District Court.28 Appeals Judge Jerome Frank wrote in his opinion that the Reserve Clause “results in something close to peonage of the baseball player… possessing characteristics shockingly repugnant to moral principles that, at least since the War Between the States, have been basic in America, as shown by the Thirteenth Amendment to the constitution, condemning ‘involuntary servitude’.”29 Faced with the possibility that the Reserve Clause might be found unconstitutional, the powers-that-be of baseball pressured Gardella and his attorney. Respected Brooklyn Dodgers executive Branch Rickey —who made Robinson the first black player in the major leagues— spoke about the benefits of the Reserve Clause. Mickey Owen, who had initially joined Gardella in the Mexican League only to return when he was threatened with placement on the Restricted List, also spoke in favor of the Reserve Clause. So did several established superstars of the time.30
Gardella v. Chandler. l72 F. 2d 402, 408. (United States Court of Appeals Second Circuit. 1949). Ibid. Snyder 105. Snyder 26.
11 Gardella succumbed to the pressure and, in exchange for not bringing the case to trial, accepted a settlement of $60,000 and removal from the Restricted List. Gardella eventually made it back to the major leagues with the St. Louis Cardinals—for one game and one at bat in 1950.31 From 1949 to 1953 the New York Yankees were the best team in major league baseball and there was not really a close second. They won five straight World Series’ championships and were extended to the maximum seven games only once.32 While this was a glorious time to be a Yankee fan, a talented player in the Yankees’ minor league system might have felt differently. Making the Yankees’ roster was only for the excellent few, and they had little room for those players who were merely very good. One such excellent player, or so he believed, was pitcher George Toolson. Whether it was because of his legal maneuverings or on-field abilities (or lack thereof), Toolson never played in a major league game. For several years, Toolson was a member of the Yankees AAA (the highest classification in the minor leagues and therefore one step from the major leagues) affiliate, the Newark Bears. Before the 1950 season, the Newark team went out of business and Toolson was sent to a team in Binghamton, New York that was of a lower classification.
Snyder 27. baseball-reference.com.
12 Toolson refused to report to the Binghamton team and filed suit against the Yankees claiming that the Reserve Clause represented a restraint of trade.33 The district and circuit courts both invoked stare decisis in reference to the Federal Baseball Club v. National League. But the case, Toolson v. the New York Yankees, made its way to the Supreme Court anyway. While the court found in favor of baseball (one of the attorneys who argued on behalf of baseball was Bowie Kuhn) by a vote of 7-2 its short, unsigned opinions at the conclusion of its ruling were telling.34 The court believed strongly in stare decisis. Further still, since baseball had operated under the presumption that it was exempt from antitrust regulations for over 30 years, the court itself was not in position to legislate from the bench. In short, the court believed the body that should lift the antitrust exemption was Congress.35 In 1957, a professional football player named George Radovich ran up against the same difficulty as Gardella. Radovich had been blackballed from the foremost professional league, the NFL, when he signed a contract with a team from a rival league. Upon his retirement,
Toolson v. New York Yankees, Inc., 346 U.S. 356 (1953). Toolson v. New York Yankees, Inc.. Ibid.
13 Radovich filed suit against the NFL. While the court agreed in principle with Radovich’s argument that the NFL limited his rights as an employee, they were countered by the fact that he was still paid a competitive wage by another team in another league. Radovich’s primary problem by 1957 was that he sought employment as a coach in the NFL. However, because of his actions as a player, he was unable to find work since the rival league he had signed with as a player had gone out of business.36 When Curt Flood was traded from the St. Louis Cardinals to the Philadelphia Phillies in 1969 he was 31 years old. He had played 12 seasons and was regarded as the premier defensive centerfielder in the National League, having won the Gold Glove—the top defensive honor for a player—seven times in a row.37 He had a career batting average of .295 and made the All-Star team three times during the 1960s.38 Flood’s teammates and Cardinal fans were well aware of his value as a player, but, prior to his pioneering lawsuit, many baseball fans associated Flood with one of the most glaring mistakes in baseball history.
Radovich v. National Football League, 352 U.S. 445 (1957). baseball-reference.com. Ibid.
14 The 1968 World Series pitted his Cardinals (who had won the series in 1964 and 1967) against the Detroit Tigers. The Cardinals jumped out to a three to one lead in the first four games, but the Tigers won the next two games to force a decisive Game Seven. In the seventh inning of Game Seven, with Flood’s best friend, Bob Gibson, pitching, the game was tied 0-0. With two men on and two out for the Tigers, Flood misplayed an apparently simple fly ball that allowed both men to score and put the Tigers in front 2-0. The Tigers went on to win the game 4-1 and the series four games to three.39 Off the field, Flood was thought of as distant and occasionally combative. With only a high school education, Flood informed himself about issues beyond baseball and, more than most players at the time, had an acute sense of the social and political upheaval taking place in the world around him. He was well aware of the black power salute by American sprinters John Carlos and Tommie Smith during the 1968 Olympics in Mexico City. He was a friend of Muhammad Ali, who gave up the title of world heavyweight champion rather than make himself eligible to fight in the Vietnam War. As athletes in individual sports, Ali and the Olympic sprinters did not have to answer to a manager or owner and feared no reprisal, such as being released or traded, as a result of their personal politics.
15 Still, Flood spoke often with Jackie Robinson, who broke baseball’s color barrier. In honor of Robinson, Flood wore the number 21 throughout his career, which was half of the 42 that Robinson had worn.40 When Flood was traded he was devastated but not shocked. Robinson himself had been in a similar situation with the Brooklyn Dodgers. After spending 10 years with the Dodgers and enduring countless racial epithets and becoming the most popular player on the team Robinson was traded to the New York Giants in the winter of 1956. Rather than report to the archrival Giants, Robinson retired from baseball.41 Flood’s situation was eerily similar. Upon hearing he’d been traded to the Phillies Flood never considered playing for them. Not only were the Phillies the worst team in the National League, Philadelphia had developed a less than stellar reputation in its treatment of black players.42 Flood simply would not go from a winning team where he felt appreciated, to a losing team with a racist fan base. Furthermore, he resented that he did not have a choice in the matter. He would either retire, as Robinson had, or fight the Reserve Clause.
Flood 29. Snyder 49. Snyder 13.
16 Flood had been active in the Major League Baseball Players Association since its inception in 1966.43 He had fought for improving the pensions for current and former players. Once he was traded, he sought the counsel of the head of the Association, Marvin Miller, and told him of his intentions.44 Miller felt that defeating baseball’s Reserve Clause was critical to enhancing the player union’s power and that Flood’s situation was a perfect example of the system. Yet, he insisted that Flood, who he regarded as a bright man, decide for himself.45 On Christmas Eve 1969 Flood sent Commissioner Bowie Kuhn— the same Bowie Kuhn who had helped represent baseball in the Toolson case—a letter indicating that he planned to fight baseball’s Reserve Clause in court.46 On Miller’s advice, Flood met with all of the Association’s player representatives. The purpose of the meeting was basically two-fold.47 First, Flood wanted the Association’s public support when his suit became public knowledge. Secondly, the Association wanted to be sure that Flood’s challenge was in their best interest. Although they came to an understanding the meeting was contentious. One player
Flood 157. Snyder 24. Snyder 24. Snyder 93-96. Snyder 73-74.
17 representative, Tom Haller48, asked Flood if his motivation was based more on racial politics rather than the ultimate defeat of the Reserve Clause.49 Others wanted to be certain that Flood was not simply leveraging a lawsuit only to take a settlement, as Danny Gardella had done.50 Miller had told Flood that it was critical that he follow the suit all the way through and then set out assembling the best legal team possible.51 Arthur Goldberg, who was a former Supreme Court justice and Labor Secretary under John F. Kennedy, was Flood’s primary representative. Goldberg was joined by Jay Topkis, considered to be one of the country’s best writers of court briefs, and Flood’s personal attorney, Allan Zerman. Although an accomplished attorney, Goldberg was also running for governor of New York when Flood’s civil trial began in May 1970.52 The effect Goldberg’s dual commitments had on the outcome is open to debate, but Goldberg had been expected to easily win the Democratic primary. Instead, he found himself in an unexpected dogfight.53
Maraniss, David. (2006). Roberto Clemente: The Passion and Grace of Baseball’s Last Hero. New York: Simon & Schuster.
Snyder 75-77. Ibid. Snyder 27. Snyder 147. Ibid.
18 Flood was called as the first witness and performed capably when questioned by Goldberg. However, under cross-examination from baseball’s lead counsel Mark Hughes and Lou Carroll, Flood seemed edgy and inarticulate. The Judge, Irving Ben Cooper, did not help matters by pointing out to Flood that there was a big difference between a batter’s box and a witness box.54 The defense wondered why someone who earned $90,000 a year (Flood’s salary in 1969) playing baseball could be dissatisfied or refer to himself as a “well-paid slave.”55 Most of the media had been particularly ruthless in attacking Flood for much the same reason. Only two sportswriters of note, Red Smith and Jim Murray, supported Flood. Aside from them, he was regularly castigated as a greedy ballplayer in newspapers and broadcasts throughout the country.56 No active players testified on Flood’s behalf, but Goldberg called the diabetes-stricken Jackie Robinson to the stand to recount his experiences with the Reserve Clause. Robinson gave impassioned testimony about how the
A $90,000 salary in 1970 would be equivalent to over $500,000 in 2007. At the start of the 2008 season the average (italics added) salary of a major league baseball player was $3.15 million. Source: Barry M. Bloom, www. mlb.com, 04/01/08.
19 combination of racism and the Reserve Clause were profoundly potent weapons against the black athlete.57 Hall of Fame first basemen Hank Greenberg, who had been the subject of countless anti-Semitic remarks by fans and players during the course of his 17-year career with the Detroit Tigers, was also called to testify. In 1947, the Tigers traded the high-priced Greenberg to the historically thrifty Pittsburgh Pirates. Greenberg informed the Pirates ownership he would play one season for them and then retire, which is precisely what he did.58 Former player Jim Brosnan, who became an author after retiring from baseball, also testified for the plaintiffs.59 In a twist, team owner Bill Veeck, never a friend of the baseball establishment, spoke about how the Reserve Clause denied him the opportunity to sign players from other teams to help make his own team competitive.60 Testimony ended on June 11th and Cooper issued his 47-page opinion on August 12th. Cooper found against Flood. The judge wrote that he did not have the authority to overturn a Supreme Court decision and Flood’s claims based on state and common law were
Snyder 160-165. Snyder 165-168. Snyder 168-172. Snyder 183-188.
20 trumped by federal law. Further, he felt that, over the course of the trial, he had heard no testimony that was credible enough in his mind to overturn the Reserve Clause.61 Flood was urged by Kuhn, through a former Negro League player named Monte Irvin, to drop his claim. The Phillies also attempted to sign Flood to a contract, but Flood did not budge.62 By the time the 1971 season was set to begin, Flood was in dire financial straits. Against the advice of his lawyers, Flood agreed to let his rights be traded to the Washington Senators.63 Worn out by the incessant media attention and personal problems his skills had significantly eroded. He played only 13 games for the Senators before retiring for good. He earned at least $50,000 for his efforts.64 While his body had given way, Flood’s pursuit of justice had not. He filed an appeal that eventually made its way to the Supreme Court in 1972. It was the first and only challenge to the Reserve Clause that reached the Supreme Court, a fact not lost on baseball owners, and a sign of its waning power.
Snyder 191-192. Snyder 200-201. Ibid. Snyder 228-233.
21 Furthermore, the collective bargaining agreement signed by the players and owners in 1970 included two major changes. If the financial terms of the standard player’s contract could not be agreed upon, the contract would be referred to an independent arbitrator. The second change included what was called the 10-5 Rule. Any player with at least 10 years of experience and at least five with his current team could veto a trade. Obviously, had the 10-5 Rule been in place when Flood was traded he would have invoked his right to veto.65 Curt Flood’s day before the Supreme Court came on March 20, 1972 when Arthur Goldberg spoke on his behalf. Flood’s legal team had put extensive planning into their presentation before the court, and Goldberg’s experience was considered a particular advantage. However, when Goldberg took the floor he froze. Perhaps he was rusty from his political foray. Perhaps he was intimidated by arguing before his peers instead of with them. Perhaps he felt unprepared. He left the planned strategy and instead recited various facts and statistics about Flood’s playing career.66 On, June 19, 1972, Flood vs. Kuhn was decided by a 5-3 count in favor of the defendant, with Justice Harry Blackmun casting the decisive vote. Justice Lewis Powell had to excuse himself from the
Snyder 178. Snyder 268-270.
22 hearings, since he was a shareholder in the Anheuser-Busch Corporation, which owned the St. Louis Cardinals.67 In the preliminary voting, justices William Brennan, William Douglas and Chief Justice Warren Burger initially found for Flood. Justices Blackmun, Thurgood Marshall, William Rehnquist, Potter Stewart, Byron White voted in baseball’s favor. Stewart had led the argument to affirm the findings of the appeals court. The appeals court, like previous courts, felt it could not overturn the 1922 Federal Baseball Team case and felt that antitrust exemptions were the work of Congress.68 As the senior member of the majority it fell upon him to write the opinion or to assign it to another justice. Stewart theorized that, since the vote could wind up a deadlock, it was best to give the opinion to a justice who was not as firm in his belief as he was. He chose Blackmun, a devout baseball fan. It was only Blackmun’s second full term on the Supreme Court. His opinion was essentially one that fawned over the historical and cultural importance of baseball in American society.69 While the major league baseball owners won the battles in court, it was clear that the Reserve Clause, as it had been in use for nearly
Snyder 283-289. Flood v. Kuhn, 407 U.S. 258 (1972)
23 100 years, was coming to end. Maintaining antitrust exemption outweighed their love of the Reserve Clause. In 1974, independent arbitrator Peter Seitz found that Jim “Catfish” Hunter’s contract was invalid making him the first free agent in baseball history.70 A year later, Seitz found that pitchers Andy Messersmith and Dave McNally should be released from their contracts with the Los Angeles Dodgers and Montreal Expos, respectively. Both agreed to play the 1975 season without a current contract (they reverted to their 1974 deals).71 McNally was an aging pitcher who was forced into retirement in June due to injury. But, Messersmith went 1914 with a 2.29 ERA and was signed to a multi-year, multi-million dollar contract by the Atlanta Braves.72 As if to confirm owners’ fears about long-term contracts, Messersmith was injured in the 1976 season. He never regained his health and was out of baseball completely by 1979.73 In the 1976 collective bargaining agreement, players were granted free agency after six years of service with the same major league team.74
Helyar 143-149. Helyar 181-190. Helyar 191. baseball-reference.com. Snyder 319.
24 It is hard to say that Curt Flood sacrificed his career for the sake of others because he had already played for 12 years when he filed suit, but he certainly sacrificed peace of mind.
Curt Flood was not the first to challenge the Reserve Clause, but he would be the last. No player, or any other individual for that matter, has ever won a case against a major league sport. Curt Flood died in 1997 at the age of 59.75 Acknowledgement of his courage came when Congress, as it had been urged to since 1953, removed baseball of the majority of its antitrust exemptions with the passage of the Curt Flood of Act of 1998.76
Snyder 346. Curt Flood Act of 1998.
Bibliography Balfour, Alan & Porter, Philip K. 1991. The Reserve Clause in Professional Sports: Legality and Effect on Competitive Balance. Labor Law Journal. January 1991. 8-18. Baseball-Reference.com. (2008) Accessed March 31, 2008. Bloom, Barry M. (2008). Average Salary in MLB Tops $3 Million. Accessed April 1, 2008. www.mlb.com. Flood, Curt & Carter, Richard. (1971). The Way It Is. New York: Trident Press. Gilroy, Thomas P. & Madden, Patrick J. (1977) Labor Relations in Professional Sports. Labor Law Journal. December 1977. 768-776. Helyar, John. (1995). Lords of the Realm: The Real History of Baseball, New York: Ballantine Books. Lomax, Michael E. (2004). Curt Flood Stood Up for Us: The Quest to Break Down Racial Barriers and Structural Inequality in Major League Baseball. Culture, Sport and Society. 6 (2-3) 44-70. Maraniss, David. (2006). Roberto Clemente: The Passion and Grace of Baseball’s Last Hero. New York: Simon & Schuster. Martin, Philip L. 1972. The Labor Controversy in Professional Baseball: The Flood Case. Labor Law Journal. September 1972. 567-572.
26 McGrath, Ben (2007, October 29). The Extortionist. The New Yorker. 5667. Snyder, Brad. (2006). A Well-Paid Slave: Curt Flood’s Fight for Free Agency in Professional Sports. New York: Viking Penguin. The U.S. Constitution and Fascinating Facts About It (7th Ed.). (2006). Naperville, IL: Oak Hill Publishing Company. Legal Cases and Legislation Federal Baseball Club v. National League, 259 U.S. 200 (1922) Flood v. Kuhn. 309 F. Supp. 793 (Southern District of New York. 1970.) Flood v. Kuhn. 443 F.2d 264 (United States Court of Appeals Second Circuit, 1971) Flood v. Kuhn, 407 U.S. 258 (1972) Curt Flood Act of 1998, Pub.L. 112 Stat. 2824, 15 U.S.C. § 27 (1998) Gardella v. Chandler. l72 F. 2d 402, 408. (United States Court of Appeals Second Circuit. 1949). Radovich v. National Football League, 352 U.S. 445 (1957) Sherman Antitrust Act, ch. 647, 26 Stat. 209, 15 U.S.C. § 1–7 (1890) Toolson v. New York Yankees, Inc., 346 U.S. 356 (1953)
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