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Right around the time that beautiful and talented Mary Tyler Moore was about to embark on her second hit television show another very talented individual was about to begin a journey of heart, principle and quite honestly a question of “right vs. wrong”, or “good vs. evil”? What Curt Flood set out to do was give himself along with every other major league baseball player a voice in their futures.
He was traded to Philadelphia at the end of the 1969 season in a trade that would setup a legal battle winding its way through the court system until ultimately reaching the United States Supreme Court. The trade itself was handled in less than perfect form which admittedly angered Flood and he did not report to camp the following spring. He was refusing the trade due in part to the Philadelphia Phillies having a less than stellar team, the Philadelphia ballpark (Connie Mack Stadium) was in poor condition, and he felt the Phillies fans were less than welcoming to the black ballplayers. Keep in mind this was the end of the decade that saw many civil rights advances, the Vietnam War, and who can forget “make love not war” and “sex, drugs and rock and roll”. The times were changing and changing rapidly.
Many inner city people were angry at the government oppression and living conditions that caused much of the big city populations to rise up and want to be heard. That’s exactly what Flood wanted. He wanted a voice in his future and more importantly wanted respect for all of his on the field accomplishments (which were many). He was angered to be told of the trade by someone other than the GM (Bing Devine in his second stint as GM) of the Cardinals at the time. Baseball had a “reserve clause” for its players which meant that players could only change teams if traded. Flood simply wanted an opportunity to choose his own destiny. Understandable right? Not so much, when you consider that team owners consisted of the old clichéd “rich white guys”. This entire case would set in motion many rules still in place today or created to deal with his concerns. The reserve clause is still in place but the Supreme Court decision (which Flood lost) would lead directly to the creation of the 10/5 rule in baseball. So while Major League Baseball was getting “Flood”ed out, it did eventually right the wrongs which Curt was fighting for all along.