Sunday, January 30, 2005

The Curt Flood Case Part 4 (of 4)

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.

Saturday, January 29, 2005

The Curt Flood Case Part 3 (of 4)

What Every Baseball Fan Should Know:
The Curt Flood Case Part 3 (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. Now we will examine the events that lead up to and the motivation that caused Curt to challenge the reserve clause.

Curt Flood in his own way was an activist who saw the world changing around him except in the realm of baseball, where the owners power and fiefdoms were still inviolate. What drove Curt to challenge them?

Friday, January 28, 2005

The Curt Flood Case Part 2 (of 4)

What Every Baseball Fan Should Know:
The Curt Flood Case Part 2 (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. In one corner we had organized baseball with all the money of the owners and the media as well as fans who just did not understand what the battle was about and who mistakenly believed that Curt Flood was attacking their game. In the other corner we had the players who were rather downtrodden and still not sure that they could challenge the powers that be. In their corner was their hope - a man named Curt Flood.

So who was Curt Flood?

Thursday, January 27, 2005

The Curt Flood Case Part 1 (of 4)

What Every Baseball Fan Should Know:
The Curt Flood Case Part 1 (of 4)
By Jonathan Leshanski

In a nutshell: Curt Flood one of the finest centerfielders of his day took baseball to court and sued them for unfair labor practices. He lost the case and at a huge price, it cost him his career and more. However it opened the door to the modern era of free agency, yet few people understand just what happened.

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Blasphemy! Curt Flood's Suit of Baseball

If the newspaper was typical, it lied that a victory for Flood would mean the collapse of our national pastime. God prophaned! Flag desecrated! Motherhood defiled! Apple pie blasphemed!
--Curt Flood, The Way It Is

On January 16, 1970, Curt Flood shocked the baseball world and America by filing suit against Major League Baseball and its reserve clause. Baseball had faced legal challenges in the past, but never had a player of Flood's caliber attempted to assail the game's sacred clause--which effectively bound a player and his contract to a team for life. The St. Louis Cardinals outfielder had earned three All-Star appearances, seven Gold Gloves, and a pair of World Series championships. Furthermore, Flood earned $90,000 a year yet accused baseball of violating of the 13th amendment, barring slavery and involuntary servitude. With a few exceptions, the public and the media initially reacted to Flood's action in utter disbelief, branding the outfielder an ingrate, a destroyer, even a blasphemer.

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

Curt Flood - Forgotten Hero

This past January 20 was the eighth anniversary of the death of Curt Flood, a great ballplayer and a great man. Today's youth should look at this man's life and see how bold and valiant he was. A man who believed so strongly in a cause that he sacrificed what he loved, so others may not suffer as he did.

From The Baseball Reliquary Inc:
Curt Flood was as crucial to the economic rights of ballplayers as Jackie Robinson was to breaking the color barrier. A three-time All-Star and seven-time winner of the Gold Glove for his defensive prowess in center field, Flood hit more than .300 six times during a 15-year major league career that began in 1956. Twelve of those seasons were spent wearing the uniform of the St. Louis Cardinals. After the 1969 season, the Cardinals attempted to trade Flood, then 31 years of age, to the Philadelphia Phillies, which set in motion his historic challenge of baseball’s infamous "reserve clause." The reserve clause was that part of the standard player’s contract which bound the player, one year at a time, in perpetuity to the club owning his contract. Flood had no interest in moving to Philadelphia, a city he had always viewed as racist ("the nation’s northernmost southern city"), but more importantly, he objected to being treated as a piece of property and to the restriction of freedom embedded in the reserve clause.

Sunday, January 16, 2005

Hammer Time by Bill Plaschke

Here is a great column by the noted L.A. Times Columnist on Hank Aaron, home run king, and his ralationship with Barry Bonds who will break Hank's record. Hank suffered greatly 31 years ago, when he was on the verge of breaking Babe Ruth's record of 714.

Monday, January 10, 2005

Guess Who's Coming to Dinner?

Guess who’s coming to dinner? Would you believe Frank Robinson, Willie Mays, Duke Snider, Reggie Jackson, Curt Schilling, Bob, Bret & Aaron Boone, Maury Wills, Bobby Cox, Bret Saberhagen, former baseball executive Pat Gillick, and legendary scout Bob Zuk? Top that off with Olympic Gold Medalist Jennie Finch and the one and only Tommy Lasorda.

Those are just some of the 1000 or so who attended the second annual Professional Baseball Scouts Foundation fundraiser “In the Spirit of the Game” at the Beverly Hilton last Saturday evening.

The foundation was established by Chicago White Sox Executives Dennis Gilbert and Roland Hemond; and MLB scouts, Dave Yoakum (Chicago White Sox) and Harry Minor (NY Mets), all of whom felt compelled to do so. Despite the fact that scouts primarily find the athletes that teams sign to lucrative deals, the average baseball scout's income is modest; therefore healthcare and pensions are often nominal. Consequently, when hardships occur, scouts are extremely financially susceptible.

Saturday’s fundraiser included a silent auction of sports memorabilia that included baseball, football, basketball, hockey and soccer.

Saturday, January 08, 2005

Only In Baseball

Only in Baseball:

  • Doug Mientkiewicz, Red Sox first baseman who caught the last out in the 2004 Red Sox World Series victory holds the ball that signifies the end of the 86-year Red Sox title drought. Yet the Red Sox team owners believe the ball belongs to them. Will a custody battle break out, then a case of “ball-napping” and finally an Amber Alert for the missing ball?
  • The Los Angeles Dodgers are not trying to trade Shawn Green, now for the third time. After stating the left-handed slugging right fielder and first baseman is not trade bait, General Manager Paul DePodesta has struck out twice trying to send him to the Arizona Diamondbacks. Now sources have confirmed that the commissioner’s office has granted the D-Backs another 48-hour window to make the deal with Green who is willing to waive his no-trade clause for the right contract extension. Maybe the third time will be the charm.
  • Scouts are in need of help. The Beverly Hilton Hotel in Beverly Hills is the site of the second annual Professional Baseball Scouts Foundation dinner “In the Spirit of the Game” on Saturday evening, January 8. The foundation provides support to Professional Baseball Scouts who have fallen on hard times due to job loss, illness, retirement or other financial setbacks. Attendees at this fundraiser will include Frank Robinson, Duke Snider, Willie Mays, Reggie Jackson, Bret Saberhagen and many others including Boston Red Sox Curt Schilling, National League Manager of the Year Bobby Cox, and Los Angeles Dodger owner Frank McCourt. Tom Lasorda will be Master of Ceremonies. A silent auction of baseball memorabilia will take place to help raise money for the foundation.

Wednesday, January 05, 2005

Wade and Ryno Make the Hall

Wade Boggs made it in to the Hall of Fame on Monday, apparently as a Red Sox, which I think is great. One of my last mental pictures is Wade in a Yankee uniform riding a policeman’s horse in Yankee Stadium after the 1996 World Series. Wade was drafted by the Red Sox in the 7th round of the 1976 amateur draft and played in Boston for eleven years, 1982 through 1992. He played 3rd base as well as first and retired in 1999 after two seasons with the Tampa Bay Devil Rays.

Ryne Sandberg also made it into the Hall. Affectionately called Ryno, he played with the Chicago Cubs for most of his career after being drafted by the Philadelphia Phillies in the 20th round of the 1978 amateur draft. Ryno was a wonderful second baseman, with great range, although he only played in two post seasons, the NLCS both times, 1984 and 1989. He first retired in 1994 after playing 54 games, then came back to play 150 games with the Cubs in 1996. He then retired for good in 1997.

Monday, January 03, 2005

Going Going Gone

As Vin Scully has said for so many years, "going, going, gone" appears to apply to Shawn Green, right fielder and first baseman for the Dodgers. The probable trade to the Diamondbacks are for catcher Dioner Navarro and pitcher William Juarez, two strong prospects who will have to prove themselves.

When Frank McCourt bought the Dodgers it was rumored he would raze Dodger Stadium and build condos. In fact, it's Paul DePodesta, Dodger GM, who is apparently razing the Dodger team, all under the careful eye and approval of McCourt.

Here is a list of who will not be back in 2005:
Dave Roberts, Juan Encarnacion, Shawn Green, Alex Cora, Adrian Beltre, Paul Lo Duca, Hideo Nomo, Masao Kida, Jose Lima, Tom Martin, Guillermo Mota, Rodney Myers, Paul Shuey, Scott Stewart, Mike Venafro; Todd Hundley, Tom Wilson; Jose Hernandez, Robin Ventura and outfielder Steve Finley.

And if the Dodgers do not re-sign free agents Odalis Perez or Brent Mayne by Saturday, January 8, they will join the expanding list of former Dodgers, too. Who is left from the opening day 2004 lineup? Second baseman Cesar Izturis and center fielder Milton Bradley.

I just hope they get it right this time. The new structure must be strong, durable and long lasting. At least lasting more than one year.

Sunday, January 02, 2005


The Dodgers are my team and there has not been too much activity so far in the off season. DePodesta tried to trade Green, and from what I hear may pull it off. I would rather trade him and his $16mil for youth in the catching and pitching positions.

But we better be getting value. No more gold for tin.