One Man Out
Curt Flood versus Baseball
Robert M. Goldman
When Curt Flood, all-star center fielder for the St. Louis Cardinals, refused to be traded to the Philadelphia Phillies in 1968, he sent shock waves throughout professional baseball that ultimately reached the Supreme Court. Flood challenged the game's reserve clause system that bound players to teams as if they were property; and while others had previously spoken out against this arrangement, protected by Congress and the courts for a century, he was the first to pursue his grievance as doggedly or as far.
Robert Goldman now offers a new look at Flood's efforts to shake the foundations of major league baseball. One Man Out takes readers back to the pre-steroid era when baseball was as much a passion as a pastime—and when race was often still a factor—to focus on decisions made in the courtrooms rather than the dugouts.
“A brief but enjoyable and sympathetic analysis both of Flood the man and of the lawsuit bearing his name.”
—Review of Politics
“One Man Out presents the legal history and analysis of Flood v. Kuhn in a way that laypersons can understand. Anyone interested in this case will find Goldman’s book a quick read and an invaluable resource.”
—NineSee all reviews...
“A fun, informative read at the intersection of law and sports. It tells the story of the struggle to end America’s last remnant of indentured servitude—baseball’s reserve system, whereby once a major league club signed a player to a contract, the player was prohibited from negotiating for a better contract with other clubs. The legal side of the story shows the history of baseball’s autonomy as a business from legal regulation on both the state and federal levels. In the meantime, the reader gets a view of baseball’s legendary place in American culture.”
“An enjoyable and insightful account of a dark period in baseball history. . . . Goldman portrays Curt Flood realistically, as a man with both amazing professional skills and personal demons. . . . Overall, this book is appropriate for the personal libraries of baseball fanatics and for academic libraries that support sports law programs or that maintain extensive collections of famous trials.”
—Law Library Journal
“Goldman provides a nice review of the Flood court case as well as a description of Flood’s personal life. A short, albeit comprehensive review of the man and the court case that would eventually lead to significant changes in baseball, including the end of the ‘reserve clause’ and MLB’s antitrust exemption.”
“Goldman’s reconstruction of Curt Flood’s challenge to baseball’s reserve clause is a winner! He not only offers a highly readable account of the case itself and its main protagonist, but also provides abundant insights into a watershed moment in the history of race and the labor-management relationship in America’s National Game.”
—Benjamin G. Rader, author of Baseball: A History of Americas Game
“Goldman’s readable and insightful book makes a significant contribution to the literature about baseball and the law. Curt Flood was a great hero in the struggle for players’ rights, and Goldman paints a nuanced portrait of the man and his cause.”
—Roger I. Abrams, author of Legal Bases: Baseball and the LawSee fewer reviews...
Flood claimed that the prevailing system was illegal because it violated the Sherman antitrust laws by allowing teams to monopolize the sport in a way that impeded players’ freedom and financial gain—and was even unconstitutional because it, in effect, imposed a form of slavery. Baseball owners countered that players owed their success to the reserve system because it maintained competitive balance among teams and heightened interest in the game, which helped fund their high salaries.
Although the Supreme Court ruled against Flood, it left the door open to legislation that would remove baseball’s special exemption from antitrust regulation and to future collective bargaining. With its credibility enhanced, the players’ union continued negotiations until it finally won a version of free agency very similar to Flood’s, with his final vindication coming in the form of the Curt Flood Act of 1998.
In replaying the confrontation between Flood and baseball commissioner Bowie Kuhn, Goldman demonstrates that even a lost lawsuit, with its game-like competition, can be a landmark. And by telling the inside story of the case, he highlights a key labor relations issue in America's most popular sport. Concise and balanced, and written in a fast-paced narrative style, One Man Out reminds students, general readers, and fans that Flood holds a unique and important place in both baseball and American law.