Curt Flood, whose pioneering fight against baseball’s reserve clause paved the way for the advent of free agency in the 1970s, is the subject of a 90-minute HBO documentary that will premiere July 13 at 9 p.m. ET.
The Curious Case of Curt Flood will examine his on-the-field accomplishments (three-time All-Star, seven-time Gold Glove winner, three-time World Series participant).
However, Curt Flood’s legacy has little to do with his on-field accomplishments. His biggest contribution was paving the way for modern free agency. After being traded from the Cardinals to Philadelphia Phillies in 1969, Flood refused to report to his new team, challenging the reserve clause that bound a player to a team in perpetuity.
The Supreme Court case that ultimately ensued would not end favorably for Flood, who sat out the entire 1970 season as his case moved through the judicial system. While he received little support from influential active players at the time, Flood’s actions brought valuable attention to the slave-like provisions of baseball’s reserve clause. Today, he is remembered as the man whose courage and sacrifice turned even major league bench players into millionaires.
Among the interviewees are Flood’s widow, his daughter, his sister, his friends, and former teammates and fellow players including Bob Gibson, Joe Torre and Tim McCarver. Flood was diagnosed with throat cancer in 1996 and passed away in 1997.