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Curt Flood Trial and Appeals: 1970-72

Flood's Conditioning

Born in Texas in 1938, raised in California, Flood had come up to the majors with the Cincinnati Reds in 1956. After the 1957 season he was traded to the St. Louis Cardinals, and he was soon displaying the skills that would make him a leading player—not only a solid hitter but a superb center fielder. Yet like all ballplayers up to that time, he was totally "under contract" to the owner of his team, and at the end of the 1969 season he was abruptly informed that he had been traded to the Philadelphia Phillies.

Thousands of players before this had quietly packed their bags and moved on to the new team. But something about the way this was handled upset Flood. He had settled into St. Louis and felt at home there. He was a proud man, and a sensitive man—among other things, he was a talented artist: his portrait of Martin Luther King, Jr., hung in Coretta King's home. Perhaps most significantly, Flood was an African American who had been moved by the civil rights struggle of the 1960s. He himself would describe his own reaction to the trade as, "By god, this is America. I'm a human being. I'm not a piece of property."

So Flood decided to challenge the reserve clause. He turned to the Major League Players Association, which not only agreed to finance his suit but also hired Arthur J. Goldberg, the former Supreme Court justice, as his lawyer. On January 16, 1970, he formally filed his suit, taking on the entire baseball establishment.

Additional topics

Law Library - American Law and Legal InformationNotable Trials and Court Cases - 1963 to 1972Curt Flood Trial and Appeals: 1970-72 - Flood's Conditioning, The Playoffs, Three Strikes …, Extra Innings, Suggestions For Further Reading