Friday, September 24, 2021


The case for Curt Flood’s Baseball Hall of Fame induction.

September 8, 2021 by  
Filed under News, Opinion, Sports, Weekly Columns

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(ThyBlackMan.com) This week, the Baseball Hall of Fame’s 2021 Induction Ceremony will honor the members of the Class of 2020: Derek Jeter, Marvin Miller, Ted Simmons and Larry Walker. The coronavirus pandemic postponed their annual ceremony for those men a year ago and understandably overshadowed the potential Hall of Fame candidacy of another important figure in baseball history, the late Curt Flood. Back in February 2020, several members of Congress sent a letter to the Hall of Fame urging the induction of former All-Star baseball player Curt Flood into the Baseball Hall of Fame. While it is fair to say that U.S. politicians have more important things to spend time on than sports and pushing for anyone to get into a sports Hall of Fame, Flood was not the ordinary athlete with the ordinary sports career.

Longtime sports fans might recognize the name “Curt Flood” beyond his actual baseball career as Flood was the man who refused to accept a trade following the 1969 Major League Baseball season, ultimately appealing his case to the U.S. Supreme Court. Curt Flood’s challenging of Major League Baseball’s reserve system helped create free agency within the MLB and other major sports leagues, forever changing sports history.

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Here are some other strong reasons and facts for why Curt Flood should be posthumously elected into the Baseball Hall of Fame:

  • Flood had courage off the field. After the 1969 season, the Cardinals traded Flood to the Phillies. At the time, there was no such thing as free agency, you had to go where you were dealt because of a paragraph in the standard player contract known as the “reserve clause”. This meant that players couldn’t receive fair market value for their services and more importantly, they had no control over where they played. When players got traded, they had to “suck it up” or retire.
  • Flood chose the unprecedented option of suing Major League Baseball for his freedom. He wasn’t trying to be a rabble-rouser, he simply did not want to leave St. Louis. He was strongly influenced by Jackie Robinson, who personally recruited Flood into the Civil Rights Movement.
  • Flood was a key member of championship-winning St. Louis Cardinals teams, along with former Cardinal legends Bob Gibson and Lou Brock, who both passed in 2020.
  • He had also established a photography and portrait painting business in St. Louis, which he stood to lose by moving to Philadelphia. He took matters into his own hands and eventually took his case all the way to the Supreme Court. He lost the case 5 to 3 with the Supreme Court ruling against his position in 1972. But three years later the tide turned as arbiter Peter Sykes would strike down the “reserve clause” ushering in a new era in baseball.
  • Although Flood was unsuccessful in challenging the reserve clause, his principled stand ended up being instrumental in bringing about true change in the sports world. Flood said, “I lost money, coaching jobs, a shot at the Hall of Fame. But when you weigh that against all the things that are really and truly important, things that are deep inside you, then I think I’ve succeeded.”

The record-breaking contracts in Major League Baseball history and sports history like the Nolan Ryan’s first millionaire baseball player contract, Alex Rodriguez contract to the Texas Rangers, to Mike Trout’s mega contract during modern times of nearly half a billion dollars are all due to the bravery of the man who once said, “I’m a human being I’m not a piece of property. I am not a consignment of goods.” Those are important words from Curt Flood that are important for any Black man to say throughout history.

Staff Writer; Mark Hines


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