What Every Baseball Fan Should Know:
The Curt Flood Case Part 4 (of 4)
By Jonathan Leshanski
In part I of this article we explained the history of the reserve clause and set the table for the understanding of what was to be a battle similar to that of David and Goliath. Part II explained just who Curt Flood was. Part III examined the events that lead up to and the motivation that caused Curt to challenge the reserve clause.
This is the fourth and the final part of the series.
“It was difficult for the fans to understand my problems with baseball. I was telling my story to deaf ears, because I was telling my story to a person who would give their first-born child to be doing what I was doing.” - Curt Flood
On January 16, 1970, just over two weeks after it was announced by the NY Times, Curt Flood filed a $4.1 million lawsuit against Major League Baseball and the legality of the reserve clause. In doing so he turned his back on playing baseball, his $90,000 a year salary and his hopes of being considered for enshrinement in the Hall of Fame as one of the best players of his day. He knew full well that he was challenging legal precedent, the scorn of owners and a public who only perceived baseball and its players as larger than life, perfect institutions.
In order to stand a chance Flood and his attorney Arthur Goldberg realized that they needed to chop down the metaphoric cherry tree and go after the myths of baseball itself. Baseball could not be left untarnished with its myths of perfection being seen as the truth. Instead Flood needed to show what really went on behind the scenes - the drugs, the sex, drinking, debauchery and crudeness. He exposed the ugly realities to the light and many fans recoiled - but many failed to believe him.
To them Curt Flood was an enemy trying to destroy the game.