Curt Flood in the Media
Baseball, Race, and the Demise of the Activist Athlete
by Abraham Iqbal Khan
University Press of Mississippi, 2012
"After twelve years in the major leagues, I do not feel that I am a piece of property to be bought and sold irrespective of my wishes," stated Curt Flood in a letter to Major League Baseball Commissioner Bowie Kuhn, challenging the "reserve clause," a rule that essentially made players slaves to their current teams by barring them from changing teams for more money or better working conditions. Flood's challenge, which ended with a 5-3 Supreme Court ruling against his claim, would ultimately lead to "free agency" for pro ballplayers after the expiration of their initial contracts and dramatically higher salaries.
This book is a scholarly examination of the public discourse that followed Curt Flood's case and what it meant to race relations at the time, and what it means today. It highlights how blacks were excluded from the discussion because of their blackness and how Flood's activism may have put an end to "athletic activism" for professional athletes in general.
Because he forged the path to free agency (which he never personally benefitted from), "Flood helped to manufacture the false dreams that reproduce inequity and despair, and Flood helped cultivate the financial climate that robs our athletes of their incentive to speak with courage," observes Abraham Iqbal Khan, an assistant professor of communication and Africana studies at the University of South Florida.
Curt Flood's Fight for Free Agency in Professional Sports
by Brad Snyder
After the 1969 season, the St. Louis Cardinals traded their star center fielder, Curt Flood, to the Philadelphia Phillies, setting off a chain of events that would change professional sports forever.
At the time there were no free agents, no no-trade clauses. When a player was traded, he had to report to his new team or retire. Unwilling to leave St. Louis and influenced by the civil rights movement, Flood chose to sue Major League Baseball for his freedom.
His case reached the Supreme Court, where Flood ultimately lost. But by challenging the system, he created an atmosphere in which, just three years later, free agency became a reality. Flood’s decision cost him his career, but as this dramatic chronicle makes clear, his influence on sports history puts him in a league with Jackie Robinson and Muhammad Ali.