Flood, Curtis Charles

Flood, Curtis Charles
▪ 1998

      American baseball player (b. Jan. 18, 1938, Houston, Texas—d. Jan. 20, 1997, Los Angeles, Calif.), challenged the major league player reserve system in court and, though he lost his suit, paved the way for players to become free agents in baseball and other professional sports. The reserve system that had existed in big league baseball since 1879 gave the clubs complete ownership of their players, who had no say over trades and no leverage in contract negotiations except the threat of retirement. Flood, traded by the St. Louis Cardinals to the Philadelphia Phillies after the 1969 season, refused to report to his new team and, with the help of the players union, decided to fight the reserve system, asserting that he was "the rightful proprietor of my own person and my own talents." The ensuing court battle lasted more than two years and ended when the U.S. Supreme Court upheld a lower court decision in favour of major league baseball. Though Flood and the union lost, their arguments resulted in a legal decision that clearly perceived problems in the business operations of baseball. Flood was signed by the Cincinnati Reds in 1956 and spent two years in the minor leagues before being traded in 1958 to the Cardinals. For the next 12 years, he played centre field for them, earning seven gold gloves for his defensive artistry and helping the team capture three National League pennants and two World Series championships. He sat out the 1970 season in order to pursue his lawsuit, returning to the game in 1971 with the Washington Senators. Advancing age, the year off, and the emotional drain of his legal battles had led to the deterioration of his skills, and he retired from baseball after appearing in only 13 games with the Senators. He achieved a career batting average of .293, accumulating 1,861 hits and 851 runs, and gained a reputation as one of the finest defensive players ever to patrol centre field. Flood, an accomplished painter, then moved to Majorca. In 1976 he returned to the U.S., where he became a broadcaster for the Oakland Athletics and later worked as commissioner of a youth baseball league.

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Universalium. 2010.

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