(Photo: James Rackwitz/Landov)
Ask St. Louis Cardinal Albert Pujols about Curt Flood and he probably could tell you a thing or two. New York Yankees pitcher C.C. Sabathia, however, may not be as schooled into the exploits of the former Cardinal Gold Glove center fielder.
But the name Curt Flood is one all baseball players should know well. Flood was responsible for opening the flood gates (pun inteded) to the hefty paydays MLB players enjoy today. It was his refusal to be traded in 1969 without say that opened the door to free agency as we know it today.
Some might say that it is Flood’s fault that salaries have ballooned out of control to the point that Pujols could demand as much as $20 million a season on the open market next year, even coming off an injured year.
Flood is far from a household name in baseball, though his impact on the game is arguably bigger than any home run record or someone managing to reach 3,000 hits in a career. The man dubbed as “The Father of Free Agency” will finally get his due in an HBO documentary called The Curious Case of Curt Flood, which airs on the network on July 13.
We will the hear the stories of how foolish many thought Flood was being when he refused a trade to the Philadelphia Phillies in 1969. He was taken to court and the case eventually made it all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court. Flood lost his case, and his life and career spun out of control from there.
All the same, his case forced lawmakers to look at baseball and the unfairness of the system. Eventually it was decided teams couldn’t own a players rights indefinitely, which gave birth to free agency a few years later.