Curt Flood played 15 years for the St Louis Cardinals. He batted .293 lifetime and was a 3 time all star. He won seven gold gloves, three pennants and two World Series.
In 1969 bound by the reserve clause Anheuser Busch traded him to the Philadelphia Phillies where the “N” word was as common as hello. Curt Flood refused to be traded and stood his ground. He along with Marvin Miller sued Major League Baseball. After a lengthy court battle, the reserve clause disappeared and the age of free agency was born.
Flood never played again. He drank hard, smoked hard and received several death threats daily. He was broke and broken. He died at the young age of 59 of throat cancer. At his funeral the Rev. Jesse Jackson said it best, “ Baseball didn’t change Curt Flood. Curt Flood changed baseball.”
More than 100 years after Lincoln, Curt Flood broke another barrier to a form of slavery; it was called the reserve clause. So when your favourite team signs a popular free agent, remember the name Curt Flood and make him a part of your black history month.
-- christopher lee grant