Wednesday, December 29, 2010

This Day in Baseball: Curt Flood and Free Agency

On December 29, 1969 the New York Times reported that outfielder Curt Flood would sue Major League Baseball over the reserve clause, which stipulated that when a player's contract expired the rights to that player were retained by the team to which he had been signed.  Flood was angry about an October trade from the Cardinals to the Phillies.  He wrote to Commissioner Bowie Kuhn, asking to be declared a free agent for the upcoming season.  This request was, of course, denied because of the reserve clause.  Flood subsequently filed a $1 million lawsuit against Major League Baseball, making the claim that Major League Baseball had violated antitrust laws.  Jackie Robinson and Hank Greenberg testified on Flood's behalf, but no current player took part in the case.  Eventually, the Supreme Court ruled in favor of Major League Baseball.  Even with this decision, the lawsuit helped pave the way for the free agency, which has completely changed baseball since its birth in December of 1975.  The offseason wouldn't be nearly as fun and interesting without free agency.

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