WASHINGTON, D.C. (KMOX) - On Thursday, Congressman Lacy Clay (D) Missouri will join 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 system, which helped create free agency within the MLB and transformed professional sports.
Clay spoke to Cardinals radio broadcaster Mike Claiborne about the movement and you can listen to their conversation in the audio above.
Members will send a letter to the Chairman of the Board of the National Baseball Hall of Fame urging the induction of Curt Flood.
Clay will also urge Cardinals fans and everyone who loves Major League Baseball to do the same.
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).
Clay will be joined by Judy Pace Flood, the widow of Curt Flood, as well as Congressman David Trone (D-MD), Congresswoman Ann Wagner (R-MO), Senator Roy Blunt (R-MO), as well as representatives of the Players Association from MLB, the NBA and NHL.
Flood's next chance of being named to the Hall of Fame will be in December, when the Golden Era Committee will meet to consider new inductees.
After playing 12 stellar seasons with the Cardinals as their All-Star center fielder, Flood was traded to the Philadelphia Phillies in 1969.
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.
Flood demanded that the Baseball Commissioner declare him a free agent on Christmas Eve 1969. Commissioner Kuhn denied 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 MLB and against Flood. W
hile he lost the case, ultimately, his cause was victorious.
Thanks to his courageous action to not accept a trade and the efforts of former MLBPA Executive Director Marvin Miller, the reserve clause eventually ended in December 1975. Flood and Miller are directly responsible for the current free agency system that MLB players enjoy today.
Miller was deservingly inducted into the MLB Hall of Fame for his work on behalf of players and the League recently, but Flood still lacks the same recognition.