On October 8, 1969, Curt Flood, a major league baseball player who had just completed his twelfth season with the St. Louis Cardinals, received a phone call from Jim Toomey, assistant to St. Louis General Manager Bing Devine, verifying that the Redbirds had traded Flood to the Philadelphia Phillies on the previous day. When he became the regular center fielder for the Cardinals in 1958, Flood was part of the second wave of African American baseball players to follow the path to the majors pioneered by Jackie Robinson in 1947. Born in Houston, Texas, but raised in Oakland, California, he had endured the hardships of segregation in the south, particularly during his minor league career and annual spring training sessions in Florida, to become an established National League star with seven consecutive Gold Glove Awards and three All-Star game appearances. A self-proclaimed “child of the 60’s” who was actively engaged in the Civil Rights Movement, the outfielder balked at the trade. After consulting with Marvin Miller, executive director of the Major League Baseball Players Association, Flood decided to challenge his status under baseball’s reserve system by writing to Commissioner Bowie Kuhn that “after twelve years in the major leagues, I do not feel that I am a piece of property to be bought and sold irrespective of my wishes. I believe that any system which produces that result violates my basic rights as a citizen and inconsistent with the laws of the United States and of the several States.” Flood’s letter began an odyssey that eventually would take his union-sponsored litigation all the way to the United States Supreme Court.
Although much has been written about the Supreme Court decision, far less attention is paid to Flood’s trial before Judge Irving Ben Cooper in the Southern District Court of New York from May 19 through June 10, 1970. The fifteen days of witness examination began with Curt Flood’s testimony and concluded with John Gaherin’s surrebuttal. In between, witnesses and attorneys examined and discussed various aspects of baseball’s structure. This webpage provides the transcript of Flood’s trial. It is provided through the efforts of Neil F. Flynn, a Springfield, Illinois, attorney who examined Flood’s trial in detail in his 2006 book, Baseball’s Reserve System: The Case and Trial of Curt Flood v. Major League Baseball. Neil acquired a copy of the transcript in 2002, and he granted me permission to post a digital copy in NDLScholarship. It is available here for the serious scholar and the average fan. I encourage you to read Neil’s book and to contact me if you have any questions about the trial. The only thing that I ask is that you acknowledge NDLScholarship as the source of the transcript.
Ed Edmonds June 2015