50 years ago today, Curt Flood challenged MLB’s reserve clause

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On December 24, 1969, Curt Flood sent a letter to then-MLB commissioner, Bowie Kuhn. The letter was to let Kuhn know that Flood did not believe he could be traded from the St. Louis Cardinals to the Philadelphia Phillies, that the rights the Cardinals had over Flood — rights he had agreed to by signing with them — should not immediately transfer over to the Phillies, a team he did not agree to play or relocate for.

It was the start of something significant, and also, in essence, the end for Flood in Major League Baseball. He knew that going in, though, knew that by sending this letter to Kuhn, and later fighting MLB in the courts over his right to free agency, that even if he won, he had lost something. Flood knew all of that — executive director of the Major League Baseball Players Association Marvin Miller made sure, repeatedly, that Flood knew the score in this regard, and wrote at length about that in his memoir — and yet, he sent the letter and challenged MLB in the courts, anyway. We don’t talk about Curt Flood enough, you know.

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