Curt Flood was the star center fielder of the St. Louis Cardinals who challenged baseball's reserve system all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court.
A three-time All-Star and a seven-time Gold Glove winner, Flood was a key member of Cardinal teams that won the World Series in 1964 and 1967. However, he will not be remembered for what he did on the diamond, but what he did in the courts.
Flood's rise to prominence began when he was traded from St. Louis to Philadelphia after the 1969 season. He refused to report. Instead, he filed an antitrust suit against major league baseball owners, challenging baseball's long-standing reserve clause, which bound players to teams until they were either traded or sold.
Flood couldn't accept that he was being treated like piece of property, and believed that players had the right to consider other options.
In 1972, the Supreme Court ruled against Flood, citing baseball's antitrust exemption, but a 1975 ruling reversed the decision which changed the face of the sport, clearing the way for free agency, and helping to bring about the enormous contracts that players earn today.
Bunts: Curt Flood, Camden Yards, Pete Rose and Other Reflections on Baseball, George F. Will. Scribner, 1998.
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