Flood v. Kuhn

From BR Bullpen

Flood v. Kuhn is the name given to the case decided by the Supreme Court of the United States on June 19, 1972 through which outfielder Curt Flood attempted to overturn the reserve clause under whose provisions he was traded against his will from the St. Louis Cardinals to the Philadelphia Phillies after the 1969 season. Commissioner Bowie Kuhn was the main defendent in the case, although Major League Baseball and the National League were also being sued. Flood was supported by the Major League Baseball Players Association.

In his ruling, Judge Harry Blackmun dismissed Flood's suit, explaining that while baseball's antitrust exemption was quaint and the product of another era, the Court did not see sufficient reason to overturn it. Judge Blackmun, a lifelong Chicago Cubs fan, began his ruling with a poetic paean to the game of baseball, citing the names of dozens of famous ballplayers from the past and underlining baseball's role at the center of American culture.

While Flood lost his case, and struggled financially and emotionally for years afterwards, his fight is considered one of the seminal events in the players' struggle to abolish the reserve clause and obtain the right to free agency. Indeed, Arbitrator Peter Seitz would make his ruling in favor of Andy Messersmith and Dave McNally only two years later. Flood would later be recognized as a pioneer and his fight for basic rights honored by many sources.

Further Reading[edit]

  • Ross E. Davies: "A Tall Tale of The Brethren", in The Baseball Research Journal, SABR, Volume 38, Number 2 (Fall 2009), pp. 117-125.
  • Ed Edmonds and Frank G. Houdek: Baseball Meets the Law: A Chronology of Decisions, Statutes and Other Legal Events, McFarland, Jefferson, NC, 2017. ISBN 978-1-4766-6438-5
  • Neil F. Flynn: Baseball's Reserve System: The Case and Trial of Curt Flood V. Major League Baseball, Walnut Park Group, Springfield, IL, 2006.
  • Robert M. Goldman: One Man Out: Curt Flood versus Baseball, Univerrsity Press of Kansas, Lawrence, KS, 2008.
  • Brad Snyder: A Well-Paid Slave: Curt Flood's Fight for Free Agency in Professional Sports, Viking, New York, NY, 2006.