Today in Sports History [6/18/1972] – Curt Flood vs MLB
On this day in 1972, US Supreme Court, 5-3, confirmed lower court rulings in Curt Flood case, upholding baseball’s exemption from antitrust laws.
In January of 1970, Curt Flood, an African-American outfielder with the St. Louis Cardinals, sued the MLB and its “reserve clause.” While the sport has its history of legal challenges, this was the first time a player of Flood’s caliber attempted to dissolve the game’s sacred clause “that bound a player and his contract to a team for life.” Simply put, he was a pioneer in fighting for free agency in the sport. Flood had earned three All-Star appearances, seven Gold Gloves, and a pair of World Series championships.
Finally, in 1976, when pitchers Andy Messersmith (L.A. Dodgers) and Dave McNally (Montreal Expos) agreed to play a season without a contract, arbitrator Peter Seitz ruled them free agents.
More than 20 years after Robinson integrated baseball, Curt Flood changed the game again at a fundamental level, when he sacrificed his career to fight baseball’s longstanding policy of treating players — as he said in the famous letter to Bowie Kuhn upon his unwelcome trade to Philadelphia in 1969 — like a piece of property to be bought and sold irrespective to my wishes.
Old, but great article via The Atlantic.