How Curt Flood inspired today’s Cuban players

Curt Flood was a pretty good baseball player.  He was born on this day in 1938, a career .293 hitter and an important piece of the St Louis team that won 3 National League pennants in 1964, 1967 and 1968.  Curt’s teammates included Lou Brock, Bob Gibson, Orlando Cepeda, Tim McCarver and quite a few others. He died in 1997.

However, he made “labor history” many years ago:

“On June 19, 1972, the U.S. Supreme Court rules against Curt Flood in Flood v. Kuhn, denying Flood free agency as a baseball player. Flood was trying to break the reserve clause that had tied baseball players to one franchise since the establishment of professional baseball.”

In other words, he was denied an opportunity to become a free agent and negotiate with several teams. Eventually, the players’ union won the “free agency” fight in 1976 after 2 work stoppages and several court appeals.  The net result is that “Free agency” changed the game and blew up the owners’ monopoly.  Flood never got to make the big bucks, but he had a lot to do with the benefits that the players enjoy today.  He was the one who challenged the system and took a bullet for the union.

He also inspired many of today’s Cuban players to demand freedom from Castro’s regime. A few years ago, Gregory J. Wallance wrote about major league baseball and players on the island:

Professional baseball players might be an unlikely human rights symbol. But recall St. Louis center fielder Curt Flood’s challenge in the early 1970s to MLB’s reserve clause, which essentially indentured players to their teams for life. His challenge led to free agency. Flood was attacked because he was paid $90,000 a year, then one of the top salaries in baseball. Even so, as he explained in words equally applicable to the Cuban players, “A well-paid slave is nonetheless a slave.”

In the end, Flood inspired today’s Cuban players who don’t want to be slaves of the regime.

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1 thought on “How Curt Flood inspired today’s Cuban players”

  1. Silvio, I honor Curt Flood for his valiant fight to abolish the free-agency clause of baseball teams at the time. But I lost a lot of money due to Curt Flood’s error in the seventh inning in game seven of the 1968 World Series against the Detroit Tigers. I was a paper boy at the time, and I had won all the bets that I had placed on the Cardinals’ star pitcher Bob Gibson in previous games. As a result of my monetary losses, I had to go on a tuna-fish diet for one month!!! LOL!

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