OCTOBER 7, 1969 – ST. LOUIS, MISSOURI – Curt Flood was a pretty good baseball player. He broke in with the St. Louis Cardinals at the age of 18. He had a .293 lifetime batting average and won several Gold Glove awards. Flood did a lot for the Cardinals. He is most remembered for what he would not do.
Flood was traded from St. Louis to the Philadelphia Phillies on this date in 1969. He wouldn’t go. Flood didn’t like that he had no control over where he played. If a team traded a player to another team, that’s where the player went. That was the essence of the “reserve clause.” Flood balked, “I do not feel that I am a piece of property to be bought and sold irrespective of my wishes.”
Flood’s case against the reserve clause went all the way to the U-S Supreme Court. While the court ruled against Flood in 1972, the decision altered the landscape which soon allowed much freedom of movement by the players – and much higher salaries.
Kurt Flood https://www.baseball-reference.com/players/f/floodcu01.shtml
“Koppett’s Concise History of Major League Baseball” by Leonard Koppett
SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA – Baseball great Willie Mays spoke out in favor of major league (MLB) owners on this date in baseball history, and he was still playing at the time.
The San Francisco Giant outfielder told Joe Garagiola in an interview, “If players control the game it is going to be bad. Owners must make some money, too.”
Mays comments were in reference to Curt Flood‘s refusal to report to the Philadelphia Phillies, the team he was traded to by the St. Louis Cardinals. Mays didn’t criticize Flood’s refusal to report, only saying, “That’s a personal thing. For myself I want to stay in San Francisco, but if the Giants traded me I would go.”
Curt flood refused to report to the Phillies in protest of baseball’s reserve clause which put the player’s future totally in the hands of the team that held his contract. Flood sued and the case went all the way to the United State Supreme Court. While he lost, it paved the way for free agency.
By the way, Willie Mays didn’t finish his career with the Giants. He was traded to the New York Mets in 1972.
Jack Hanley, The Daily Review, Hayward, California, January 18, 1970