Retro Report: Curt Flood and the birth of free agency

From Matt Spolar at Retro Report on October 15, 2019:

On the morning of October 8, 1969, just days after the end of a disappointing season for the St. Louis Cardinals, Curt Flood was told that he was being traded  to Philadelphia. The veteran center fielder didn’t want to go. However, baseball players did not have a say in where they played, thanks to a court-protected “reserve clause” allowing team owners to perpetually renew their contracts.

Flood wanted control over his life – describing himself as a “well-paid slave,” he invoked the spirit of the civil rights movement, and highlighted demographic tensions at play between team owners and professional athletes. By taking a stand Flood put the power dynamic of America’s sports on trial, both in the court of law and of public opinion, and championed a movement that forever changed the game.

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Originally published: October 15, 2019. Last Updated: October 15, 2019.