Assignment: Answer the following prompt in a 2-3 page, double-spaced, 12-point font essay. Organize your essay into clear paragraphs with an introduction, body, and conclusion. The purpose of the assignment is for you to demonstrate your ability to critically examine the intersection between sports, race, and American culture.For this particular essay on Curt Flood, students must demonstrate that they have read Gerald Early’s chapter, “Curt Flood, Gratitude, and the Image of Baseball.” Prompt:Professor Gerald Early wrote, “African Americans began to perceive sports quite differently in the 1960s, sensing in some way that sports simply replicated their relatively powerless political and social position in the larger society” (Early, “Curt Flood,” 80). How does the story of Curt Flood help us better understand why some black athletes viewed the labor conditions in professional sports as dehumanizing? Why did black athletes in the 1960s and 1970s reject the mythology of sports as the great meritocracy?For quotations and paraphrasing, please cite the pages from Early’s essay using parenthetical references at the end of your sentences. For example, in your first citation paraphrasing or quoting the author, you will write (Early, “Curt Flood,” 70). For this essay, thereafter, you only have to cite the specific page number since you will only be writing using one source.Guidelines:Your essay must be at least two pages long, but no longer than three pages.Your essay must have a thesis statement. A thesis answers the question as specifically as possible.Your introduction paragraph should provide the necessary and relevant background to lead into your argument.Your essay should follow a logical path and have clear paragraphs with strong topic sentences.Your essay must rely on evidence from the reading and lecture. A good essay offers specific examples to support general points.Use quotes judiciously. Quotations can be effective, but overuse diminishes your authority.Do not write sentences that start with “I” or “This essay will . . .” Instead, write in crisp, formal language.2
Curt Flood, Gratitude,
and the Image of Baseball
. . . they go by the creed “keep them grateful.”
Copyright © 2011. Harvard University Press. All rights reserved.
—College defensive back Bobby Smith on
why he was not drafted by an NFL or
AFL team in 1968 after he had become a
spokesman for militant African American
athletes on campus
W h e n S t. L o u i s C a r d i n a l s center fielder
Curt Flood refused to submit to being traded to the
Philadelphia Phillies in October 1969, after twelve
years of ser vice with the Cardinals as one of their
best players and fourteen years of ser vice overall in
professional baseball, he helped redefine how athletes, particularly black athletes, were seen by the
public and the press in the United States.
The trade itself had racial and political overtones: true, the Cardinals probably wanted a power
0
Early, Gerald L., and 7
Gerald
Lyn Early. A Level Playing Field : African American
Athletes and the Republic of Sports, Harvard University Press, 2011. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://eboo
Created from gatech on 2019-12-02 06:48:30.
Copyright © 2011. Harvard University Press. All rights reserved.
Curt Flood, Gratitude, and the Image of Baseball
hitter for the middle of their lineup, and Dick Allen, also called Richie, the major player they received
from Philadelphia in the trade for Flood, was one
of the best power hitters in the game, having hit
forty homers once and over thirty homers twice
during his six years with the Phillies as a regular
starting player. And it was also probably true that
the Phillies were seeking both better defense and
more speed, and Flood was one of the speediest
and one of the best defensive outfielders in the
game, although he was more than three years older
than Allen and could not match his overall run production. Most important, however, was that both
men were black and both were causing, from management’s point of view, problems with their teams;
teams often decide, depending on the par ticular
skills a player may possess, to swap problems. Indeed, it was almost a certainty that if a team wanted
to trade a black “problem” player in 1969, considering the reality of quotas for black players on most
professional sports teams at that time, then it was
going to have to take a black “problem” player in
return. In other words Allen and Flood were traded
for each other, aside from their skills and the particular needs their respective teams had, because, as
they were both “problem” players, they likely could
71
Early, Gerald L., and Gerald Lyn Early. A Level Playing Field : African American
Athletes and the Republic of Sports, Harvard University Press, 2011. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://eboo
Created from gatech on 2019-12-02 06:48:30.
Copyright © 2011. Harvard University Press. All rights reserved.
a
l e v e l
p l a y i n g
f i e l d
not have been traded for anyone else. The Cardinals
had won back-to-back National League pennants
in 1967 and 1968 but were a dispirited team in 1969,
finishing fourth in the National League Eastern Division, thirteen games out of first place. Flood blamed
the team’s dismal performance on two events: a
speech given to the team by owner and beer magnate
August A. Busch Jr. during spring training on March
22, 1969, and on trading, a few days later, Orlando
Cepeda, known among his teammates as Cha-Cha,
the team’s popular first baseman to Atlanta in exchange for Joe Torre. Busch’s speech was largely a
diatribe in defense of baseball owners: how costly it
was to field a major league team, how much work
was involved in getting people to come out to the
games, and how much owners did to elevate the
image and status of the ballplayer:
It used to be that some parents looked down their
noses at the thought of their sons going into
professional baseball.
Today, that’s all changed. Making the grade in
the major leagues is just about the most productive thing that could happen to a young man.
In addition to being well paid during his
baseball days, there are even greater opportuni-
2
Early, Gerald L., and 7
Gerald
Lyn Early. A Level Playing Field : African American
Athletes and the Republic of Sports, Harvard University Press, 2011. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://eboo
Created from gatech on 2019-12-02 06:48:30.
Curt Flood, Gratitude, and the Image of Baseball
Copyright © 2011. Harvard University Press. All rights reserved.
ties for a player to make lasting and profitable
business connections, mostly because they played
major league baseball.
Many of you have already done that. Stan
Musial, Lou Brock, Curt Flood, Tim McCarver,
Roger Maris, and many others are already in that
category. And you know it.
True, you deserve to be well paid in accordance with your playing ability. But I must call
your attention to the fact of life that you take few,
if any, of the great risks involved.1
Busch concluded his speech by deploring all of
the recent talk in the off-season about the players’
pension fund and the possibility of a strike, saying
that such talk did not go over well with the fans.
“They are the ones who make you popular. They are
the ones who make your salary and pension possible.”2 In effect Busch seemed to be berating his
players for being ungrateful, a charge that was to be
made in several quarters about ballplayers generally
during this period as they became more union conscious and more militant in their demands with the
owners, and a charge that was being made against
black athletes during this period as they had become
more self- consciously racial and political. Busch
73
Early, Gerald L., and Gerald Lyn Early. A Level Playing Field : African American
Athletes and the Republic of Sports, Harvard University Press, 2011. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://eboo
Created from gatech on 2019-12-02 06:48:30.
Copyright © 2011. Harvard University Press. All rights reserved.
a
l e v e l
p l a y i n g
f i e l d
made his speech only a few months after the 1968
Olympic Games in Mexico City, where sprinters
Tommie Smith and John Carlos made clenched-fist
“black power” salutes during their medal-awarding
ceremony. Boxer Muhammad Ali was already famous
around the world for his stance against the draft
and the Vietnam War and had been banned from
boxing. The racial integration of high-performance
athletics in the United States was still very much a
work in progress at this time, and the latest generation of black athletes seemed, like the black population in general, more angry about the present than
grateful about how much of an improvement the
present was over the past.
Flood, a black player on a team with other star
blacks—Lou Brock and Bob Gibson, both Hall of
Fame players now—and a huge black Latino star,
Orlando Cepeda, who was there during several of
the Cardinals glory years and who is now also in the
Hall of Fame—described his response to Busch’s
speech: “During 1969, I protested more vigorously
than usual, and even broke into print a few times.
This did not endear me to management. Especially
not at $90,000 a year.”3 He felt, by the end of 1969,
that he would be traded because he was known as a
troublemaker and because he made so much money.
Early, Gerald L., and 74
Gerald Lyn Early. A Level Playing Field : African American
Athletes and the Republic of Sports, Harvard University Press, 2011. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://eboo
Created from gatech on 2019-12-02 06:48:30.
Copyright © 2011. Harvard University Press. All rights reserved.
Curt Flood, Gratitude, and the Image of Baseball
He called himself the highest-paid singles hitter in
the game at that time. Flood was on a successful
team that had won two World Series during his tenure, and he had several overachieving black teammates. Flood had an artistic bent and ran a portrait
painting and photography business as a sideline to
his baseball career. He also was something of a free
spirit, visiting places such as Copenhagen and imbibing a bit in a black male bohemian lifestyle so
richly satirized in Cecil Brown’s brilliant 1969 comic
novel The Life and Loves of Mr. Jiveass Nigger.
Dick (Richie) Allen’s situation was a little different. Despite such black and Latino players as Ruben
Amaro, Tony Taylor, Tony Gonzalez, Wes Covington, Ted Savage, and Johnny Briggs, Allen was the
first true black superstar to play in Philadelphia. No
Hall of Fame players of color were in his cohort on
that team. In this sense he operated under even
more pressure and more scrutiny than Flood as the
big black star. Allen was Rookie of the Year in 1964,
when the Phillies nearly won the National League
pennant. It was the same year the city experienced a
major race riot in the North Philadelphia ghetto
area, where Connie Mack Stadium, where the
Phillies played, was located. A group of merchants
sponsored a “Richie Allen Night” in September
75
Early, Gerald L., and Gerald Lyn Early. A Level Playing Field : African American
Athletes and the Republic of Sports, Harvard University Press, 2011. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://eboo
Created from gatech on 2019-12-02 06:48:30.
Copyright © 2011. Harvard University Press. All rights reserved.
a
l e v e l
p l a y i n g
f i e l d
1964, during the midst of the team’s infamous collapse that cost them the pennant, an unusual honor
for a rookie player, fueling the idea that Allen was
being given special treatment, and all the more so,
perhaps, because of the riot. Despite Allen’s offensive heroics, the team never won a pennant in the
1960s. Allen was a much misunderstood man; he
seemed to like horses and cars better than people,
and many thought he squandered his enormous
talent. He would sometimes disappear for several
days during the season, prompting many to think
him lazy and uncommitted. He got into a highly
publicized fight in 1965 with white infielder Frank
Thomas, during which Thomas hit Allen with a
bat after Allen slugged him for using a racial slur,
which resulted in Thomas being waived and Allen
being booed by Philadelphia crowds. The white
public and some white sportswriters began to think
that there were separate rules for Allen, that he was
indulged not only because he was a star but because he was black. (For much of the white public,
the age of black militancy had produced the petulant black athlete, befuddled by the complex industry in which his or her own talent was rewarded and
exploited, and bemused by the fact that he or she
existed largely as a product of white patronage or
Early, Gerald L., and 76
Gerald Lyn Early. A Level Playing Field : African American
Athletes and the Republic of Sports, Harvard University Press, 2011. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://eboo
Created from gatech on 2019-12-02 06:48:30.
Copyright © 2011. Harvard University Press. All rights reserved.
Curt Flood, Gratitude, and the Image of Baseball
white goodwill.) It became a popular notion that
the Phillies operated under two realities: one for Allen, and one for the other twenty-four men on the
team. “One of Richie’s biggest supporters,” wrote
black sportswriter Bill Nunn Jr. in 1968, “is team
owner Bob Carpenter. The two get along well. They
seldom have serious contract difficulties. Yet if you
listen to the Philly press it comes out that Richie is
teacher’s pet and is coddled by the boss.”4 When
manager Gene Mauch was fired in June 1968, it
was commonly believed that Allen went to Carpenter with a “Mauch or Me” ultimatum and got his
way.5 He was the most disliked player on the team
by the Philadelphia public, particularly whites, in a
city with a considerable white ethnic population,
especially blue-collar Italians and Irish Catholics.
Allen nearly ended his career in August 1967 when
he accidentally cut the tendons in his hand when
he pushed his hand through his car’s headlight
when trying to move the vehicle after it had stalled
in the rain. Allen never fully recovered from his
hand injury, but he played for ten more years as a
highly productive player. By 1968, because of the
constant booing, the throwing of objects (Allen
took to wearing his batting helmet in the field and
was nicknamed “Crash,” as in crash helmet), and
77
Early, Gerald L., and Gerald Lyn Early. A Level Playing Field : African American
Athletes and the Republic of Sports, Harvard University Press, 2011. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://eboo
Created from gatech on 2019-12-02 06:48:30.
Copyright © 2011. Harvard University Press. All rights reserved.
a
l e v e l
p l a y i n g
f i e l d
bad press, Allen desperately wanted to be traded.
Both Allen and Flood were very different black men
with different abilities and different playing experiences; Flood did not want to be traded from St.
Louis, and Allen wanted to get out of Philadelphia
in any way he could. Yet both men were alike in
interesting ways—they were both heavy smokers
and drinkers, but neither let these habits affect their
performance on the field, although Allen drank
during games;6 both were incredibly tense men and
high strung, possessing habits and personalities that
symbolized and reflected the highly stressful world
of the pressurized performance of the professional
athlete, probably a tad more pressurized for the
black professional athlete.7 Both, by the end of their
1960s tenures with their respective teams, were considered troublemakers, albeit of very different sorts.
One was artistic, outspoken, and concerned about
social justice issues; the other was moody, uncommunicative, isolated, and almost trapped within his
own psyche. Rejecting the idea of representing anything to anyone, and especially the bearing of the
Joe Louis/Jackie Robinson exemplar as a black athlete, Allen once said, speaking about himself: “You’re
supposed to be an example. Why do I have be an
example for your kid? You be an example for your
8
Early, Gerald L., and 7
Gerald
Lyn Early. A Level Playing Field : African American
Athletes and the Republic of Sports, Harvard University Press, 2011. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://eboo
Created from gatech on 2019-12-02 06:48:30.
Copyright © 2011. Harvard University Press. All rights reserved.
Curt Flood, Gratitude, and the Image of Baseball
own kid.”8 Both were condemned by many because
they no longer seemed to appreciate what baseball
had done for them. They both expressed something, one more articulately than the other, but
each in his own passionate way, that troubled the
public and press deeply—a profound concern about
what baseball had done to them. Interestingly, at
the time of the Flood controversy, Allen thought
that Flood would play for the Phillies in 1970 because of the money.9 Yet Allen’s complaint about
being in Philadelphia echoed Flood’s complaint
about the response to his lawsuit and the complaint of successful black athletes generally during this period: “But in Philadelphia, their attitude
was that I should be grateful just to be allowed on
the field. The sportswriters there would make
things worse by comparing my salary to other players in the league that had been around longer.”10
But whether Flood decided to play was immaterial to Allen; he was never going to return to
Philadelphia.11
What I wish to examine in this chapter is not
how or why Flood’s legal challenge to this trade
precipitated the rush of events, if indeed it did, that
produced modified free agency for baseball players
in the mid-1970s with the Messersmith-McNally
79
Early, Gerald L., and Gerald Lyn Early. A Level Playing Field : African American
Athletes and the Republic of Sports, Harvard University Press, 2011. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://eboo
Created from gatech on 2019-12-02 06:48:30.
Copyright © 2011. Harvard University Press. All rights reserved.
a
l e v e l
p l a y i n g
f i e l d
labor relations settlement that so changed the salary
structure of the sport, by so radically changing the
bargaining position of veteran players. I leave that to
others who are far more knowledgeable about the
complex issues involved in the labor-management
relationship of major league baseball. What I am
more interested in is how African Americans began
to perceive sports quite differently in the 1960s, sensing in some way that sports simply replicated their
relatively powerless political and social position in
the larger society; that participating in sports, even
on a highly successful level, did not liberate either
the individual athlete or his group in any significant way; that sports were, in the main, dehumanizing; and how this new perception was related to
how some members of the press responded to a particular aspect of the Flood challenge, the idea that
Flood was a slave because of the conditions under
which he played under baseball’s reserve clause,
placing that response within the historical, cultural, and political context of the moment of the
late 1960s and the growing sense among the press,
the public, and the baseball owners that baseball
players generally were ungrateful for their good fortune, and the same growing sense in some of the
white press, white management, and among the
0
Early, Gerald L., and 8
Gerald
Lyn Early. A Level Playing Field : African American
Athletes and the Republic of Sports, Harvard University Press, 2011. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://eboo
Created from gatech on 2019-12-02 06:48:30.
Copyright © 2011. Harvard University Press. All rights reserved.
Curt Flood, Gratitude, and the Image of Baseball
white public that black athletes were generally ungrateful for what sports had done for African Americans. I am reminded that there was a sense in the
late 1960s, a very turbulent time in American social
history, among many whites that blacks were, on the
whole, ungrateful for the changes that had been
made on their behalf as a result of the civil rights
movement. It was commonplace to hear cries among
whites of “What do blacks want?” or “What more do
they want?” With the civil rights agitation came, of
course, a white reaction or, as it was called in the
1960s, a white backlash against further reform or, as
some whites saw it, the further granting of concessions, as whites feared that blacks were moving
from being a stigmatized caste to becoming a specially privileged group of sentimentalized victims.
And, naturally, there was nostalgia among many for
the old days when blacks “knew their place.” Flood
exacerbated this mood among many whites when
he sued baseball in 1970 but particularly because
he sued not only on the grounds that baseball’s
reserve clause, which prevented him from contesting the trade, was not only a violation of federal
antitrust law but also was a violation of the Thirteenth Amendment that outlawed involuntary servitude. The fact that Flood was black intensified
81
Early, Gerald L., and Gerald Lyn Early. A Level Playing Field : African American
Athletes and the Republic of Sports, Harvard University Press, 2011. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://eboo
Created from gatech on 2019-12-02 06:48:30.
a
l e v e l
p l a y i n g
f i e l d
Copyright © 2011. Harvard University Press. All rights reserved.
the significance of this particular attack against
baseball’s reserve clause; the fact that the black athlete was becoming more and more politicized in
the 1960s and that some saw performing sports as a
form of slavery made this attack all the more a reflection of the great racial divide that afflicted the
country. Many whites and even some blacks asked:
“How can they hate performing sports or find them
demeaning when sports have been so good to the
Negro?”
The Slavery Metaphor and the
Meaning of the African American
Presence in Sports
Throughout his famous 1969 book, The Revolt of
the Black Athlete, Harry Edwards made a number of
references to slavery, often comparing the modernday black athlete to a slave or the practices of modernday, high-performance athletics to slavery. For instance he called college recruitment “the modern-day
equivalent of the slave trade”;12 he distinguished
the white athlete from the black athlete who is “reduced to a slave-with-pay status”;13 and he stated a
bit later that “[like] the black slave who sang songs
and hummed tunes as he toiled in the fields, the
2
Early, Gerald L., and 8
Gerald
Lyn Early. A Level Playing Field : African American
Athletes and the Republic of Sports, Harvard University Press, 2011. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://eboo
Created from gatech on 2019-12-02 06:48:30.
Copyright © 2011. Harvard University Press. All rights reserved.
Curt Flood, Gratitude, and the Image of Baseball
black professional athlete has, too, traditionally accommodated himself to the discrimination and
racism he has encountered in professional sports.
And, as was the case with the black slave, so successful has his masquerade been that many naive,
ignorant, or openly racist whites actually believed
that the black professional athlete was in fact not
humiliated or enraged by the treatment he received.”14 Edwards later wrote, “Taking a page
from the slave’s book on survival tactics, the black
pro learned to turn the other cheek when his impulse was to kill, to smile when his impulse was
to curse.”15 In keeping with the motif of the black
athlete as a kind of slave, Edwards also made the
point several times that black athletes were not considered human beings in the sports industry but a
form of chattel. “The black athlete in professional
athletics is regarded by most of his white comrades
and owners as a machine—a machine to be used as
white men see fit and then discarded after youth
has gone or injury has reduced it to the point where
cost has surpassed production. Then the ‘machine’
is simply traded in for a newer model.”16 Edwards
stated earlier: “Like a piece of equipment, the black
athlete is used.”17 Elsewhere he wrote this about
athletes generally: “All professional athletes—black
83
Early, Gerald L., and Gerald Lyn Early. A Level Playing Field : African American
Athletes and the Republic of Sports, Harvard University Press, 2011. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://eboo
Created from gatech on 2019-12-02 06:48:30.
Copyright © 2011. Harvard University Press. All rights reserved.
a
l e v e l
p l a y i n g
f i e l d
and white—are officially and formally classified as
property.”18
Ex-American League baseball star Larry Doby,
who entered major league baseball only one month
after Jackie Robinson in 1947, said much the same
in a 1968 issue of Sports Illustrated: “Black athletes
are cattle. They’re raised, fed, sold, and killed.”19 It
did not surprise people that Edwards would say the
sort of things that he was saying, but it surprised a
good many people at the time to hear Doby say
that.
Several times during his exile from boxing between 1967 and 1970, Muhammad Ali was to make
the same comparison of the black athlete to the
slave. In the May 1970 issue of Esquire, Ali said,
“Fighters are just brutes that come to entertain the
rich white people. Beat up on each other and break
each other’s noses, and bleed, and show off like two
little monkeys for the crowd, killing each other for
the crowd. And half of the crowd is white. We just
like two slaves in the ring. The master gets two of
us big old black slaves and let us fight it out while
they bet. ‘My slave can whup your slave.’ That’s
what I see when I see two black people fighting.”
Later in the same article Ali talks about his nemesis,
Joe Frazier: “All his Cloverlay, Inc., stockholders
4
Early, Gerald L., and 8
Gerald
Lyn Early. A Level Playing Field : African American
Athletes and the Republic of Sports, Harvard University Press, 2011. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://eboo
Created from gatech on 2019-12-02 06:48:30.
Copyright © 2011. Harvard University Press. All rights reserved.
Curt Flood, Gratitude, and the Image of Baseball
who own him are gathered around him, acting like
he’s their racehorse. That’s just the way my white
managers were: investing in me, buying and selling
stock in me, getting on trains for the big fights, like
they were going to some kind of slave festival, to
watch their slaves perform.”20 He repeated himself
nearly verbatim in an interview published a month
later in The Black Scholar: “We’re slaves in that
ring. The masters get two of us big ones and let us
fight it out while they bet. ‘My slave can beat your
slave.’ ”21 Ali made these remarks the same year Flood
filed suit against baseball’s reserve clause. Ali certainly had not been influenced by Flood’s stance
against the reserve clause as constituting a form of
slavery in formulating his thinking. He had been
thinking about boxing in this way probably since he
officially became a member of the Nation of Islam
in 1964.22 Almost certainly he had heard ideas of
this sort as early as 1964, when he first fought Sonny
Liston for the title and was good friends with Malcolm X, who held such beliefs himself. The Nation
of Islam disparaged sports and blacks in popular culture, generally. Flood, though, had been almost certainly influenced by Ali’s stance against the Vietnam War. But the larger issue here, I think, is that
black athletic performance as a form of slavery, that
85
Early, Gerald L., and Gerald Lyn Early. A Level Playing Field : African American
Athletes and the Republic of Sports, Harvard University Press, 2011. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://eboo
Created from gatech on 2019-12-02 06:48:30.
Copyright © 2011. Harvard University Press. All rights reserved.
a
l e v e l
p l a y i n g
f i e l d
the black athlete is seen as a thing, not a person,
had become a kind of zeitgeist. Blacks had offered
opinions like this before, for instance, abolitionist
Frederick Douglass when he talked about sporting
activities on the plantation in his autobiographies,
and Marxist writer Richard Wright when he covered
Joe Louis’s fights in the 1930s.23 But generally blacks
saw sports as an arena where they could compete
with whites head-to-head on the basis of something
as close as humanly possible to objective merit. Indeed, the idea of sports as the great meritocracy made
the ideology of sports as a component of American
liberalism very appealing to many blacks. But in
the 1960s this idea of blacks in sports as a subtle
form of degradation or dehumanization had become nearly commonplace. It was an indication of
how much liberalism was in a state of crisis, of how
much American institutions were afflicted by a crisis of legitimation, because race challenged the
prevailing notion of how institutions worked even
after, and especially after, blacks were included in
these institutions as signs of good business and fair
democratic practice. Liberalism did not seem to
have changed the dynamics of paternalism but,
rather, at least from the perspective of blacks, to
have absorbed them. And nothing seemed more
6
Early, Gerald L., and 8
Gerald
Lyn Early. A Level Playing Field : African American
Athletes and the Republic of Sports, Harvard University Press, 2011. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://eboo
Created from gatech on 2019-12-02 06:48:30.
Copyright © 2011. Harvard University Press. All rights reserved.
Curt Flood, Gratitude, and the Image of Baseball
paternalistic than sports, with its roots partly in
nineteenth-century American slavery and in the
nineteenth-century American capitalism of monopoly and ownership domination.24
The comparison of the high-performance athlete to a slave certainly was made before Flood’s
case. In the first of his noted five-part series on the
black athlete, written for Sports Illustrated in 1968,
Jack Olsen quoted a Big Ten basketball coach as
saying: “ ‘Things are now getting to the point where
all a coach has to do is go out and pick up four or
five good Negro players and let things take their
natural course. In order to succeed—which means
to win—coaches are being forced to resort to what I
would bluntly call nothing else but the slave trade.’ ”25
Ebony magazine’s April 1964 photo-editorial was entitled “Needed—An Abe Lincoln of Baseball.” It
dealt with the unfairness of professional baseball’s
reserve clause, and this was six years before Flood
sued baseball:
When Abraham Lincoln inked his angular letters
at the bottom of the Emancipation Proclamation
in 1863, there were many who thought this
marked the end of slavery. . . . To all intents and
purposes, it freed the slave in the United States
87
Early, Gerald L., and Gerald Lyn Early. A Level Playing Field : African American
Athletes and the Republic of Sports, Harvard University Press, 2011. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://eboo
Created from gatech on 2019-12-02 06:48:30.
Copyright © 2011. Harvard University Press. All rights reserved.
a
l e v e l
p l a y i n g
f i e l d
for all times. But what Abe, a true lover of sports
(he was a wrestler of considerable skill), didn’t
know was that in the United States under the
guise of a great national pastime, a form of semislavery would grow and flourish, seemingly with
the whole-hearted approval of the public and the
government. If anyone would tell Willie [Mays]
that he was “slave labor,” the highest paid player
in baseball (he is said to be the man earning
around $110,000) would probably laugh himself
silly. But what would his answer be if you asked
him why he didn’t check with the Yankees of the
American League to see if maybe they wouldn’t
pay him $125,000 a year for his ser vices?26
The Ebony editorial, after explaining how the reserve clause made it impossible for Mays to negotiate with another team for a higher salary, as he was
the property of his club for life or to the club to
which his club may choose to trade or sell him, then
discussed the fate of two white ballplayers: Yankee
pitcher Jim Bouton, who was forced to sign for less
than he wanted and far less than his market value
after he had won twenty- one games the previous
year, simply because the club gave him a take-it- orleave-it offer, which the reserve clause gave them the
8
Early, Gerald L., and 8
Gerald
Lyn Early. A Level Playing Field : African American
Athletes and the Republic of Sports, Harvard University Press, 2011. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://eboo
Created from gatech on 2019-12-02 06:48:30.
Copyright © 2011. Harvard University Press. All rights reserved.
Curt Flood, Gratitude, and the Image of Baseball
power to do; and Chicago White Sox relief pitcher
Jim Brosnan, who was released because he wrote
articles during the baseball season. The editorial
expressed concern that the major league clubs may
have the power, through the reserve clause, to restrict players in other ways: “There might be a restriction on speaking at Urban League and NAACP
rallies. Come to think of it, major league ballplayers have not been very evident in the forefront
of equal rights demonstrations.” The article, after
mentioning that major league baseball owners had
exercised the right to determine who could play,
not on the basis of talent but skin color, concluded:
“As a general rule, we do not object to baseball’s
privileges. But when these privileges deprive a man
of his right to write for magazines, keep a man from
joining in a fight for freedom, or limit his earning
ability just because he must play for a certain team,
we wonder.”27 What is striking here is that a middleof-the-road black magazine, fixated with the notion
of bourgeois accomplishment, which made a fetish of
black material success and social status, should
make an issue of baseball’s reserve clause and question the political commitment and economic remuneration of black baseball stars, among the most
revered black figures of popular culture in the
89
Early, Gerald L., and Gerald Lyn Early. A Level Playing Field : African American
Athletes and the Republic of Sports, Harvard University Press, 2011. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://eboo
Created from gatech on 2019-12-02 06:48:30.
Copyright © 2011. Harvard University Press. All rights reserved.
a
l e v e l
p l a y i n g
f i e l d
1960s,28 especially at a time when it was not a pressing public or pressing black issue. Ebony’s concern about how much the reserve clause stifled
the black baseball player’s political expression was
partly substantiated in 1968 when an anonymous
black baseball star said: “ ‘Baseball players can’t
stick their noses out and say things about racial injustice. . . . We can’t negotiate for ourselves because
of the reserve clause. There are no other leagues.
Either you sign with your team or you don’t play
baseball.”29
Jack Olsen’s series of articles on the black athlete
in America that appeared in Sports Illustrated in
the summer of 1968 made clear that black athletes,
as a group, were “dissatisfied, disgruntled, and disillusioned.” Tired of a quota system that kept the
number of black professional and college athletes at
a certain number, cynical about the phenomenon
of stacking that kept blacks from playing certain
“leadership” positions in certain sports, disillusioned
by the experience of being scholar-athletes at white
universities from where few graduated and most felt
alienated and isolated, disenchanted with the fact
that they had to outperform whites in order to remain in their chosen sport and yet had virtually no
future in the sport once their playing days were
0
Early, Gerald L., and 9
Gerald
Lyn Early. A Level Playing Field : African American
Athletes and the Republic of Sports, Harvard University Press, 2011. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://eboo
Created from gatech on 2019-12-02 06:48:30.
Copyright © 2011. Harvard University Press. All rights reserved.
Curt Flood, Gratitude, and the Image of Baseball
over, and discouraged by the lack of opportunities
for product endorsements, despite having huge seasons on the field, blacks were becoming more vocal
in expressing their feelings about the shortcomings
of a sports career as an entry into mainstream
America. But this unhappiness, which went to the
heart of the role of the intersection of athletics and
race in the affirmation of the ideology of American
liberalism, was not received very well by many sports
fans or sportswriters, some of whom, naturally, felt
threatened by such feelings on the part of blacks.
“The Negro athlete who has the nerve to suggest
that all is not perfect,” wrote Olsen in 1968, “is
branded as ungrateful, a cur that bites the hand.”30
Understanding the historical moment, it is certainly no surprise that Flood, a thoughtful man,
deeply proud and sensitive, with a somewhat ironical turn of mind, would make such statements in
his 1971 autobiography as “[The trade] violated the
logic and integrity of my existence. I was not a consignment of goods. I was a man, the rightful proprietor of my own person and my own talents,”31 saying this right after he had talked about the proximity
of the Pruitt-Igoe housing project to the old courthouse “in which Dred Scott sued for his freedom.
From the shattered windows of the worst of the
91
Early, Gerald L., and Gerald Lyn Early. A Level Playing Field : African American
Athletes and the Republic of Sports, Harvard University Press, 2011. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://eboo
Created from gatech on 2019-12-02 06:48:30.
Copyright © 2011. Harvard University Press. All rights reserved.
a
l e v e l
p l a y i n g
f i e l d
slums . . . 10,000 inheritors of old Dred’s disappointment are free to enjoy superb views of the
arch and to draw what conclusions they will.”32 Or,
“ ‘I just won’t be treated as if I were an IBM card.’ ”33
Or, “ ‘I do not feel that I am a piece of property to
be bought and sold irrespective of my wishes.’ ”34
Flood knew well how inextricably bound the idea
of gratitude, with the paternalistic liberalism of
American sports, was with the white public idea of
how a black person should feel about his success.
“The proprietors and publicists of baseball could be
depended on to remind me of [my advancing age
and eroding skill] at every turn, meanwhile reviling
me in print as a destroyer, an ingrate, a fanatic, a
dupe.”35 He described a piece of hate mail he received where the writer reminded him “that if it
were not for the great game of baseball I would be
chopping cotton or pushing a broom. And that I
was a discredit to my race.”36 Flood also talked at
great length about how the professional baseball
industry itself, with its shills and sportswriters, fosters the attitude of gratitude by mythologizing the
game, tying it vividly to the idea of the American
national character and propagandizing it as a symbol of American democratic values, thus masterfully
and subtly turning the public against any player who
2
Early, Gerald L., and 9
Gerald
Lyn Early. A Level Playing Field : African American
Athletes and the Republic of Sports, Harvard University Press, 2011. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://eboo
Created from gatech on 2019-12-02 06:48:30.
Copyright © 2011. Harvard University Press. All rights reserved.
Curt Flood, Gratitude, and the Image of Baseball
does not publicly express that he feels blessed to be
playing the game. As Flood wrote: “The only approved posture is one of tail-wagging thanks for
the opportunities provided by the employer. Few
active players feel anything like such gratitude,
and none has reason to. Baseball employment is too
insecure for that. Not many players deliver their
ceremonial recitations [of gratitude] without a sense
of embarrassment.”37 And so Flood’s challenge of
baseball not only, as Flood saw it, cost him his career but cost him virtually everything. In 1978, six
years after the Supreme Court ruled against Flood,
despite saying in its ruling that no rational basis existed for baseball to have a reserve clause and to be
exempted from anti-trust laws when every other
sport had been subject to them, Richard Reeves
went looking for Curt Flood. When he finally
reached him, Flood said to him in heartbreaking
desperation: “ ‘Please, please don’t come out here.
Don’t bring it all up again. Please. Do you know what
I’ve been through? Do you know what it means to
go against the grain of the country? Your neighbors
hate you. Do you know what it’s like to be called
the little black son of a bitch who tried to destroy
baseball, the American Pastime?’ ”38 In retrospect it
is not surprising that Flood would take the stance
93
Early, Gerald L., and Gerald Lyn Early. A Level Playing Field : African American
Athletes and the Republic of Sports, Harvard University Press, 2011. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://eboo
Created from gatech on 2019-12-02 06:48:30.
Copyright © 2011. Harvard University Press. All rights reserved.
a
l e v e l
p l a y i n g
f i e l d
he did at that particular moment, when the black
zeitgeist was to challenge all of the assumptions
about what affirmed American liberalism, and especially to attack the legitimacy of color-blind merit,
which sports had so promoted, as a mask for the
maintenance of white power.39 It is also not surprising that because he challenged baseball, a sport so
deeply connected to the country’s sense of itself as
it would imagine itself to be, a sport, more than any
other, that fosters incredible national self- deception,
that because he challenged it in the way he did,
that he would think that the end of his baseball career was rather a form of conspiratorial destruction.
Flood’s own self-mythology as activist/martyr consists of two beliefs: his challenge destroyed him, and
he was destroyed because he was a black man who
challenged an entrenched system. As baseball becomes more self-consciously multicultural (for instance, Major League Baseball invented the Civil
Rights Game in 2007, first as a spring training game
and then in 2009 as a regular season game, as a
tribute to blacks and their struggle against racism)
and develops a history to fit that ideological frame,
a black person as a sacrificial lamb, in this instance,
who freed the peon/players, as it were, may wind up
serving many people, including the lords of baseball
4
Early, Gerald L., and 9
Gerald
Lyn Early. A Level Playing Field : African American
Athletes and the Republic of Sports, Harvard University Press, 2011. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://eboo
Created from gatech on 2019-12-02 06:48:30.
Curt Flood, Gratitude, and the Image of Baseball
themselves, a great deal of public good. In the end,
the Flood challenge may convince many that Larry
Doby was right when he said in 1968: “Baseball has
done a lot for the Negro but the Negro has done
more for baseball.”40
Copyright © 2011. Harvard University Press. All rights reserved.
The Press, Curt Flood, and the
Idea of Involuntary Servitude
In his discussion of the Flood case in his Sociology
of Sports (1973), Harry Edwards quotes part of federal judge Irving Ben Cooper’s decision to deny
Flood’s suit: “ ‘The plaintiff’s $90,000 a year salary
does not support the spirit of his assertion that the
reserve clause relegates him to a condition of involuntary servitude. For if it did, he would be the
highest paid slave in history.’ ” 41 The fact that Cooper based his ruling in this way on Flood’s contention that the reserve clause was a violation of the
Thirteenth Amendment’s anti-involuntary servitude
clause (he could have simply said that the clause
was not applicable because Flood was paid for his
ser vices, which precluded any sense that he was an
involuntary servant in the sense that the amendment meant; it would not matter, in this understanding of the clause, how much he was being
95
Early, Gerald L., and Gerald Lyn Early. A Level Playing Field : African American
Athletes and the Republic of Sports, Harvard University Press, 2011. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://eboo
Created from gatech on 2019-12-02 06:48:30.
Copyright © 2011. Harvard University Press. All rights reserved.
a
l e v e l
p l a y i n g
f i e l d
paid; slaves are not paid, period), and that Edwards,
in his discussion of the case, chose to highlight it,
reveals how much this case turned in the minds of
many not on the more complex technical issue of
anti-trust law but on the visceral issue of whether
Flood was a slave in any sense of that term based on
the amount of money he was paid when he last
played baseball for the Cardinals. (Flood did return to baseball briefly in 1971 as an outfielder for
the Washington Senators, but after a dismal start
he quit baseball for good after about a month. He
would have earned over $100,000 had he stayed
with the team for the season, or at least beyond May
15.42) In a sense the Flood case was about whether
paternalism, as a mythologized form of an employer’s benevolence and an employee’s gratitude, remained an essential component of the nation’s understanding of liberalism, more than one hundred
years after the end of slavery as a system built on
that very idea as a democratic value. As so many
found it difficult to side with Flood because of his
salary (and his privileged status was doubtless intensified by his race, the fact that he was a black
man making a salary that few black men at the
time were eligible to make), it would seem that the
powerful attack made against paternalism in Har-
6
Early, Gerald L., and 9
Gerald
Lyn Early. A Level Playing Field : African American
Athletes and the Republic of Sports, Harvard University Press, 2011. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://eboo
Created from gatech on 2019-12-02 06:48:30.
Copyright © 2011. Harvard University Press. All rights reserved.
Curt Flood, Gratitude, and the Image of Baseball
riet Beecher Stowe’s famous 1852 novel, Uncle Tom’s
Cabin (two of Tom’s three masters are benevolent,
are models of white paternalism, but neither protects Tom, one from selfish convenience and the
other from negligence, when he is sold from family
and friends), never truly seeped into the collective
American consciousness. We only remember the
brutal Simon Legree.
Some mainstream sportswriters supported Flood,
such as Jim Murray, who in his column “Uncle Curt’s
Cabin” wrote, “The ‘reserve clause,’ to be sure, is
just a fancy name for slavery. The only thing it doesn’t
let the owners do is flog their help.”43 Red Smith,
also sympathetic to Flood, felt that the question of
whether the abolition of the reserve clause would
destroy baseball, the claim made by the owners at
Flood’s trials, was the wrong issue entirely. “First it
should be agreed that ownership of people is repugnant per se and that a business which depends for
its existence upon such evil isn’t necessarily worth
saving.”44 When the trade was first announced,
Flood said that he would retire and continue to
paint portraits, which he had been doing with modest success for several years before the trade. The
former Cardinals general manager, Frank Lane,
said, upon hearing this, “Flood will play next year . . .
97
Early, Gerald L., and Gerald Lyn Early. A Level Playing Field : African American
Athletes and the Republic of Sports, Harvard University Press, 2011. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://eboo
Created from gatech on 2019-12-02 06:48:30.
Copyright © 2011. Harvard University Press. All rights reserved.
a
l e v e l
p l a y i n g
f i e l d
unless he’s better than Rembrandt.” To this, Smith
responded: “It was a beautiful comment, superlatively typical of the executive mind, a pluperfect
example of baseball’s reaction to unrest down in
the slave cabins. Baseball demands incredulously,
‘You mean that at these prices, they want human
rights, too?’ ” 45
The black press, although some thought Flood
made a bad decision to challenge the reserve clause,
was generally sympathetic and supportive. Bill Nunn
Jr. of The Pittsburgh Courier pointed out the hypocrisy in how baseball executives viewed Flood and
how they viewed pitcher Denny McLain (who won
thirty- one games for the Detroit Tigers in 1968)
who was found to have a financial interest in a
bookmaking operation: “Funny thing about baseball. Most executives of the game are more peeved
at Curt Flood, for his stand against the reserve
clause than they are at Denny McLain for his outside dealings that caused him to be suspended from
the game until July. Poor Denny, as Commissioner
Bowie Kuhn stated last week, is just an ignorant
$200,000 (with outside interests) a year player who
was used by unscrupulous outside parties. Flood,
on the other hand, has been described as an ungrateful you know what, who is trying to destroy the
8
Early, Gerald L., and 9
Gerald
Lyn Early. A Level Playing Field : African American
Athletes and the Republic of Sports, Harvard University Press, 2011. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://eboo
Created from gatech on 2019-12-02 06:48:30.
Copyright © 2011. Harvard University Press. All rights reserved.
Curt Flood, Gratitude, and the Image of Baseball
very foundation of the game. Now how about that
for making good old American common sense!” 46
(McLain was suspended for three months of the
1970 season. Flood was never suspended for suing
baseball, and since he attempted a comeback in
1971, it can even be said that he was not quite blacklisted from the game either) Several members of
the black press praised Flood because he was fighting for a principle at great sacrifice. Bill Nunn Jr.
wrote: “That is why I believe Flood should be commended for the battle he is waging. He isn’t doing
it for personal gain. He’s fighting for something he
believes in. Few men are willing to pick up the
sword of battle under such circumstances.”47 Nunn
added: “Even if you don’t agree with Curt Flood in
his fight against organized baseball concerning the
reserve clause, his fortitude in fighting for what he
believes to be right has to be admired. Flood thus
joins a growing list of black athletes who have
placed principle above personal gain. Jackie Robinson was one of the first when he quit organized
baseball rather [than] join a new club after being
traded by the Brooklyn Dodgers. Others who come
to mind [are] Cassius (Muhammad Ali) Clay, Jim
Brown, Arthur Ashe, and Bill Russell.”48 Civil rights
leader and nonviolent draft resister Bayard Rustin
99
Early, Gerald L., and Gerald Lyn Early. A Level Playing Field : African American
Athletes and the Republic of Sports, Harvard University Press, 2011. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://eboo
Created from gatech on 2019-12-02 06:48:30.
Copyright © 2011. Harvard University Press. All rights reserved.
a
l e v e l
p l a y i n g
f i e l d
also compared Flood to other noted black athletes
who stood up to the system in his column that appeared in The Philadelphia Tribune: “[Flood’s suit]
is also an attempt to reform an institution in which
black athletes have acquired prestige and wealth
and have become a source of pride for other Negroes. As such, Flood stands in the tradition of
such black athletes as Jackie Robinson and Muhammad Ali who, in addition to achieving great
status within their professions, took courageous
stands on issues of human rights.” 49 Ric Roberts
compared Flood to other black baseball players
who rebelled in a somewhat different way, as a kind
of Samson whose destruction of the temple becomes a form of self- destruction: “To all intents
and purposes, Jackie Robinson’s stardusted career
lost its glitter, never to gleam again from that hour,
between the 1954 and 1955 seasons when he put the
finger on what he called the biased anti-Negro
front office of the then reigning New York Yankees.
From the moment Larry Doby dropped Yankee
pitcher Al Ditmar, with a sizzling left hook in the
summer of 1958, Larry’s big league career was
finished—forever. We mention Jackie and Larry,
of course, because they led the black parade—from
the top black administered baseball, into the ma-
0 0 Lyn Early. A Level Playing Field : African American
Early, Gerald L., and 1
Gerald
Athletes and the Republic of Sports, Harvard University Press, 2011. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://eboo
Created from gatech on 2019-12-02 06:48:30.
Copyright © 2011. Harvard University Press. All rights reserved.
Curt Flood, Gratitude, and the Image of Baseball
jors. Baseball’s punitive code struck both men
down. Unless Flood is the seventh son of a seventh
son, the obit index rests upon the ex-St. Louis Cardinals star.”50 Sports editor Jess Peters Jr., in his column, countered the argument that a man who
makes $90,000 cannot be a slave: “The fact that
major league baseball players are fairly well paid
during their big league careers is really irrelevant;
anyone who follows a normal path of logic can’t
ignore the fact that a man who makes $20,000 a
year is entitled to no less Constitutional protection
than a man who makes $5,000.”51 Ebony magazine
praised Flood in a photo-editorial in which he was
called, in connection to the slavery claim made
against the reserve clause, the Abe Lincoln of baseball.52 “It will be a bit of poetic justice,” the editorial continued, “should it turn out that a black man
finally brings freedom and democracy to baseball.
After all, organized baseball kept black players out
of the game for seventy-five years just because they
were black.”
What is clear is that the black press generally saw
Flood in heroic terms, as a fighter for principle, as
someone unafraid to challenge a white- dominated
system, and as someone who was in the tradition of
important, politically conscious black athletes. His
Early, Gerald L., and Gerald Lyn Early. A Level Playing Field : African American 1 0 1
Athletes and the Republic of Sports, Harvard University Press, 2011. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://eboo
Created from gatech on 2019-12-02 06:48:30.
Copyright © 2011. Harvard University Press. All rights reserved.
a
l e v e l
p l a y i n g
f i e l d
argument about the reserve clause being a violation
of the Thirteenth Amendment fell upon sympathetic ears, although it should not be assumed that
all blacks, because of their common history of
slavery and oppressive treatment at the hands of
whites, would be supportive of Flood’s involuntary
servitude claim or would see it as sensible. I encountered more than a few black men at the time
of Flood’s case who thought he was a fool and
should have played in Philadelphia. “Where else is
he going to make that kind of money? There are
few places where a black man can. Besides, you
can’t beat the white man at a game that he has
rigged in his favor. He should go out there and play
and let a white boy beat that reserve clause in court
or let the union do it.” More than a few blacks did
not find paternalism nearly as abhorrent as Flood. I
occasionally heard this opinion: “He should be
grateful to the white man for being able to make
that kind of money playing a game. There are no
black people who can pay him that kind of money
for doing anything, legal or illegal.” But criticism of
this sort was expressed by many blacks about Ali’s
decision not to join the army, yet Ali became the
kind of political symbol for blacks during the 1960s
and 1970s that Flood never did.
0 2 Lyn Early. A Level Playing Field : African American
Early, Gerald L., and 1
Gerald
Athletes and the Republic of Sports, Harvard University Press, 2011. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://eboo
Created from gatech on 2019-12-02 06:48:30.
Copyright © 2011. Harvard University Press. All rights reserved.
Curt Flood, Gratitude, and the Image of Baseball
And Flood, over the years since the case was decided, has not become a politicized sports hero for
new generations of blacks in the way Ali and Jackie
Robinson have. (I recall few special tributes to
Flood in black publications when he died in 1997
and few public expressions of sorrow by black public figures or leaders.) I think the reason for this is
very much related to the nature of Flood’s battle.
He was fighting a par ticular legal advantage that
baseball owners had that was not explicitly racial.
In other words, what was done to Flood, in trading
him to Philadelphia against his will, was not done
to him because he was black, nor was it something
that was only done to black players. And Flood did
have the choice of continuing his career in Philadelphia for a higher salary than what he was being
paid in St. Louis. Both Ali’s and Robinson’s struggles seemed more racial because their experiences
seemed unique, something that could only happen
to black men. Even Ali’s legal battle against the
draft seemed more dramatic, because for the black
public there was more at stake. Ali was fighting his
government, not a small cartel of businessmen in
a tiny industry called baseball. If Flood failed, then
he was, at worst, out of a job in major league baseball; if Ali failed, then he would be imprisoned,
Early, Gerald L., and Gerald Lyn Early. A Level Playing Field : African American 1 0 3
Athletes and the Republic of Sports, Harvard University Press, 2011. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://eboo
Created from gatech on 2019-12-02 06:48:30.
Copyright © 2011. Harvard University Press. All rights reserved.
a
l e v e l
p l a y i n g
f i e l d
which seemed far worse and far more political to
most blacks. In Robinson’s case, his struggle to integrate baseball made him the emblem of his race. If
Robinson failed, many blacks felt, then the whole
race failed (although this was not, in point of fact,
strictly true). Flood’s case carried not any of this
resonance; if Flood failed, then there was nothing
much at stake for blacks at large. In this regard, despite the fact that Flood was generally more sympathetically received in the black community, he may
have been more intensely admired and supported
by those whites who truly found the entrenched
power of baseball owners utterly detestable and who
would be especially fond of a black rebel going
against the system because of its richer symbolic
potential. Flood would be more the darling of the
white liberal Left than he would ever be of the black
civil rights establishment or of black nationalistminded thinkers.
One of Flood’s most persistent critics was St.
Louis Post-Dispatch sportswriter Bob Broeg, who
wrote several columns about the Flood case. Broeg
was never convinced by Flood’s claim that the reserve clause reduced a player to involuntary servitude, which he thought went to the heart of the issue of Flood’s entire case. The headlines for his
0 4 Lyn Early. A Level Playing Field : African American
Early, Gerald L., and 1
Gerald
Athletes and the Republic of Sports, Harvard University Press, 2011. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://eboo
Created from gatech on 2019-12-02 06:48:30.
Copyright © 2011. Harvard University Press. All rights reserved.
Curt Flood, Gratitude, and the Image of Baseball
columns tell the story: “$100,000 a Year—What a
Way To Be Mistreated,”53 “Does ‘Principle’ or
‘Principal’ Motivate Flood?”54 and “Sports Get
Jilted When Athletes Go A-courting.”55 Broeg’s criticism of Flood’s legal claims against the reserve
clause includes the following: First, that a man
who collects Flood’s kind of salary cannot possibly
be considered a peon or a slave in any rational sense
of the term, and if he is being more than fairly compensated for his ser vices, then how can he claim to
be a slave? The basic issue of the unfairness of slavery, as nearly everyone understands it, is not being
compensated for one’s labor, to have someone unfairly take one’s labor through coercion or force.
None of that, in Broeg’s mind, existed in the Flood
case. Broeg said that he would have been more
sympathetic to a challenge to the reserve clause if it
had been made by a less affluent player.56 Second,
the Cardinals had rendered much aid to Flood
“above and beyond the call of contractual obligations, with financial and personal problems of
which he must still be aware, yet he does not choose
to mention or acknowledge.”57 This, for Broeg, is
tantamount to lack of loyalty to the organization
on Flood’s part. Moreover, if Broeg’s contentions
are true, then Flood misrepresented aspects of the
Early, Gerald L., and Gerald Lyn Early. A Level Playing Field : African American 1 0 5
Athletes and the Republic of Sports, Harvard University Press, 2011. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://eboo
Created from gatech on 2019-12-02 06:48:30.
Copyright © 2011. Harvard University Press. All rights reserved.
a
l e v e l
p l a y i n g
f i e l d
nature of his relationship with the organization, so
the fact that he was informed about the trade with
an abrupt phone call did not characterize the true
nature of the organization’s support for him during the years he played for it. Broeg might even
have gone farther with this line of reasoning and
argued that Flood’s initial reaction to the trade
showed that he was disappointed that the organization showed so little gratitude for his ser vices, the
very thing he was accusing the organization of wanting from him in some manipulative way. Finally,
Broeg argued that the reserve clause had changed
over time, as had the status of the ballplayer: at the
time of Flood’s suit the players had a good pension
plan, they had rules about how deeply their salaries
could be cut, and they benefited from changes in
roster construction, the draft, and interleague trading that made their life a great deal better than it
had been.58
But in some respects it could be argued that
Broeg’s arguments are really nothing more than an
elaborate rehearsal of the theme of ingratitude. The
Cardinals had been good to Flood, so why should
Flood wish to be free? What Broeg does not account for in his argument is the fact that the Cardinals traded Flood, and this is what Flood objects to,
0 6 Lyn Early. A Level Playing Field : African American
Early, Gerald L., and 1
Gerald
Athletes and the Republic of Sports, Harvard University Press, 2011. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://eboo
Created from gatech on 2019-12-02 06:48:30.
Copyright © 2011. Harvard University Press. All rights reserved.
Curt Flood, Gratitude, and the Image of Baseball
not how the Cardinals treated him up to the time
of the trade. And if, indeed, the Cardinals did not
want him, then why should Flood not be able to go
where he wished instead of where the Cardinals
wanted him to go? For the argument of paternalism, as it was conceived by the slave owners of the
nineteenth century, the slave was taken care of;
families, contrary to abolitionists such as Mrs. Stowe,
were not broken up—the slave was indeed part of
the larger, fictive plantation family, hence the degrading honorific titles “aunt” and “uncle.” What
Flood was arguing in his objection to the trade was
that the Cardinals wanted all of the binding human obligations of paternalism when they wanted
the player and all of the freedom of the commodities market when they did not. Flood’s challenge,
for Broeg, thwarted the logic of paternalism, but
paternalism has only the logic of power for the paternalist and the logic of obedience for the recipient. That Broeg added the point about favors done
for Flood above and beyond the terms of his contract only means that Broeg believed that paternalism not only has a logic but also a morality or an
internal set of ethical demands upon the parties
bound by it. But, in truth, no real morality can exist
in paternalism, for the system only replicates and
Early, Gerald L., and Gerald Lyn Early. A Level Playing Field : African American 1 0 7
Athletes and the Republic of Sports, Harvard University Press, 2011. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://eboo
Created from gatech on 2019-12-02 06:48:30.
Copyright © 2011. Harvard University Press. All rights reserved.
a
l e v e l
p l a y i n g
f i e l d
reflects how well those who control it mask their
ability to do so with favors, concessions, and pet
treatment of star players, how well they mask their
power through, paradoxically, the whimsical exercise of it as an expression of benevolence or indulgence. The exceptionalist status granted baseball
by its being allowed the reserve clause was part and
parcel, reification, of the broader exceptionalist status that the sport enjoyed that gave it its mythical
standing in American society. This was because the
exceptionalism of baseball mirrored and interpreted
the exceptionalism of America itself, in that it demanded gratitude from the players for being permitted to play the sport in much the same way the
country had, at times, such as during the era of
cold war liberalism; demanded gratitude and loyalty from its citizens for being able to live here, as
in the American South, the exceptionalist region of
our country; and demanded gratitude from blacks
in their debilitating paternalism that insisted, with
Orwellian logic, that slavery and degradation were
freedom and uplift. In the velvet glove of the myth of
baseball as the Great American pastime the game of
heroes, the sport that symbolized our democratic
impulses, was the iron fist of its absolutist corporate
power, a power that the sport enjoyed far too long
0 8 Lyn Early. A Level Playing Field : African American
Early, Gerald L., and 1
Gerald
Athletes and the Republic of Sports, Harvard University Press, 2011. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://eboo
Created from gatech on 2019-12-02 06:48:30.
Curt Flood, Gratitude, and the Image of Baseball
Copyright © 2011. Harvard University Press. All rights reserved.
in the form of the unrestrained exercise of its reserve clause. It is much to the credit of labor organizing and our legal system that, after the failure of
the Flood challenge, the situation in baseball significantly changed for the better for the players.
Early, Gerald L., and Gerald Lyn Early. A Level Playing Field : African American 1 0 9
Athletes and the Republic of Sports, Harvard University Press, 2011. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://eboo
Created from gatech on 2019-12-02 06:48:30.

Purchase answer to see full
attachment




Why Choose Us

  • 100% non-plagiarized Papers
  • 24/7 /365 Service Available
  • Affordable Prices
  • Any Paper, Urgency, and Subject
  • Will complete your papers in 6 hours
  • On-time Delivery
  • Money-back and Privacy guarantees
  • Unlimited Amendments upon request
  • Satisfaction guarantee

How it Works

  • Click on the “Place Order” tab at the top menu or “Order Now” icon at the bottom and a new page will appear with an order form to be filled.
  • Fill in your paper’s requirements in the "PAPER DETAILS" section.
  • Fill in your paper’s academic level, deadline, and the required number of pages from the drop-down menus.
  • Click “CREATE ACCOUNT & SIGN IN” to enter your registration details and get an account with us for record-keeping and then, click on “PROCEED TO CHECKOUT” at the bottom of the page.
  • From there, the payment sections will show, follow the guided payment process and your order will be available for our writing team to work on it.