MISSOURI CONGRESSMAN CLAY: CURT FLOOD BELONGS IN MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL HALL OF FAME

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[Baseball Hall of Fame\Curt Flood]
This year marks the 50th anniversary of Flood’s courageous challenge to Major League Baseball’s (MLB) Reserve Clause, which helped create free agency within professional baseball and transformed professional sports.
Photo: Facebook

Congressman Wm. Lacy Clay (D) Missouri joined with a bipartisan and bicameral coalition of Members of Congress to call for former St. Louis Cardinals All-Star center fielder Curt Flood’s induction into the National Baseball Hall of Fame.

This year marks the 50th anniversary of Flood’s courageous challenge to Major League Baseball’s (MLB) Reserve Clause, which helped create free agency within professional baseball and transformed professional sports. Members of Congress from both sides of the aisle will be sending a letter to the Chair of the Board of the National Baseball Hall of Fame urging the induction of Curt Flood.

Mr. Clay is also urging St. Louis Cardinal fans and everyone who loves Major League Baseball to do the same and record their support for Curt Flood’s induction into the Baseball Hall of Fame at his official Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/CongressmanClayMO1/

In his remarks at the joint press event, the Congressman said in-part:

I always tell people that Black History is American History.

"We need to say the names, tell the stories, and honor the struggle. So today, we remember the courage and sacrifice of the late, great, Curt Flood. Curt Flood’s courage, both on and off the field, qualifies him for induction into the Baseball Hall of Fame. As some of you know, he’s already a member of the St. Louis Cardinals Hall of Fame, and he deserves to be in Cooperstown too.

"When I was a young kid, I was lucky enough to see him play at Sportsman’s Park at the corner of Grand and Dodier in North St. Louis. And later, I saw him play at Busch Stadium in downtown St. Louis. Curt Flood was a brilliant center fielder, a perennial All-Star; A two-time World Series Champion; And he won seven consecutive Gold Gloves.

"He was also a great friend of my Dad, former Congressman Bill Clay. Curt Flood’s courage struck a giant blow for freedom; When he stood up to the Reserve Clause and demanded to be treated like a man, instead of a piece of property; he was a symbol of determination and uncompromising dignity who stood up against injustice and changed the game forever. He deserves to be in the Hall of Fame.”

The new campaign to honor the courage and bravery of the late Curt Flood has been endorsed by the Major League Baseball Players Association (MLBPA), the National Basketball Players Association (NBPA), the National Football League Players Association (NFLPA), and the Major League Soccer Players Association (MLSPA).

ADDITIONAL BACKGROUND

After playing 12 seasons with the St. Louis Cardinals as a standout center fielder, Curt Flood was traded to the Philadelphia Phillies in 1969.

Mr. Flood refused to be traded, becoming the first player in MLB history to reject a trade. At the time, players were still bound to a team for life by the so-called “reserve clause.” Simply put, a player was a team's property.

Mr. Flood demanded the Baseball Commissioner declare him a free agent on Christmas Eve 1969. Commissioner Kuhn denied Mr. Flood’s request, so he filed a lawsuit against the MLB. The case (Flood v. Kuhn) reached the Supreme Court in 1972. In a 5-3 ruling, the Court sided with the MLB and against Mr. Flood.

Thanks to Curt Flood’s courageous action to not accept a trade and to the efforts of Major League Baseball Players Association Executive Director Marvin Miller, the reserve clause eventually ended in December 1975. Mr. Flood and Mr. Miller are directly responsible for the current free agency system that MLB players enjoy today. While Mr. Miller was deservingly inducted into the MLB Hall of Fame for his work on behalf of players and the League recently, Mr. Flood still lacks the same recognition.

This December, the Golden Era Committee will meet to consider new inductees for the Baseball Hall of Fame.

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