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A Well-Paid Slave: Curt Flood's Fight for Free Agency in Professional Sports Hardcover – October 5, 2006

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Snyder, a lawyer and baseball writer, gives an account of St. Louis Cardinals outfielder Curt Flood's failed though influential suit against Major League Baseball, offering both a sturdy revision of Flood's biography and a polemical defense of the pro-player fight of which Flood was a part. Benefiting from a lawyer's pen, the intricacies of the terms "reserve clause" (which bound players "to their teams for life") and "baseball's anti-trust exemption" are quickly and clearly explained, as the world of 1960s Major League Baseball is brought to life. Before "free agency," players had few rights; after the 1969 season Flood fought being traded to Philadelphia, taking his battle to the Supreme Court. While the narrative drags at points, the stories of those central to Flood's case (like Marvin Miller, director of the Player's Association, and Arthur Goldberg, Flood's chief lawyer) are vividly rendered. Most compelling, however, is the portrait of Flood's humble upbringing (in working-class Oakland) and the racism he experienced during his early years on the field ("name-calling, segregated facilities, and second-class citizenship"). This account both serves to explain why Flood was "serious about sacrificing his playing career to sue baseball" and helps reposition Flood as a successor to Jackie Robinson's "lifelong battle against injustice." (Oct.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

If one event has made the business of baseball what it is today, it is Curt Flood's challenge of major league baseball's "reserve clause," which essentially bound a player to his team for life, barring trades. As author Snyder relates in this careful and informed narrative, center-fielder Flood refused to report from the St. Louis Cardinals to the Philadelphia Phillies following the 1969 season, choosing instead to sue MLB over the clause. If Flood--honorable, thoughtful, brave, independent--was singularly qualified to champion the players' cause, he was also doomed by legal precedent, an uninformed and distracted counsel in former Supreme Court Justice Arthur Goldberg, and a curiously disinterested, if not hostile, players association. Flood would take his case to the Supreme Court only to lose in a 5-4 decision. But his efforts enable subsequent players to defeat the reserve clause. Snyder's account gives Flood his well-earned due and also details a critical period in the history of American sport. Alan Moores
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 480 pages
  • Publisher: Viking Adult (October 5, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 067003794X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0670037940
  • Product Dimensions: 6.3 x 1.5 x 9.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.5 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (40 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,292,974 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

17 of 17 people found the following review helpful By BK on October 12, 2006
Format: Hardcover
Brad Snyder has done it again. Following on the heels of his much-acclaimed Beyond The Shadow of the Senators, Snyder returns to the pinnacle of his profession with A Well-Paid Slave, a gripping account of Curt Flood's fight for free agency in professional sports. In my opinion, Snyder's latest work is at once the best baseball book and the best law book that I've read in years. It is a gem that shows off Snyder's talents as a writer, researcher, and legal analyst.

On Oct. 7, 1969, Flood, an All-Star and Gold Glove centerfielder with the St. Louis Cardinals, was traded to the Philadelphia Phillies. Instead of accepting the trade, Flood challenged the reserve clause, which bound players to their teams for life, and brought a lawsuit that went all the way to the Supreme Court. Although he narrowly lost before the Court, Flood paved the way for free agency and helped give ballplayers some say in where they played. The free agents who will sign multimillion dollar contracts this off-season owe some of their good fortune to Flood. According to Snyder, Jackie Robinson started a racial revolution by putting on a uniform and Flood started an economic revolution by taking his uniform off.

In one riveting volume, Snyder manages both to tell Flood's personal and professional story and to present in a manner that is comprehensible even to those without formal legal training the amazing story of Flood's case, from the trial level all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, as well as its implications forty years later.

In a lengthy review this past Sunday, the New York Times Book Review concluded: "Generations of ballplayers -- Curt Flood's children -- have never honored him properly. But with his fine book, Brad Snyder surely has." I could not have said it better myself. Snyder is a star. A must read for anyone interested in baseball, American history, law, and sociology.
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Bill Emblom on November 10, 2006
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
We have recently had definitive biographies of baseball stars Ted Williams, Joe DiMaggio, Roberto Clemente, and Lou Gehrig. We can now add Curt Flood's name to that list with author Brad Snyder's effort entitled A Well-Paid Slave. As Flood stated, "A well-paid slave is nonetheless a slave." Flood's skills may have been on the downside with his trade to Philadelphia following the 1969 season due to his late night activities. The infamous trade only added to this problem with his refusal to report to the Phillies, and his suit against the game's establishment. He tried in a failed comeback with Bob Short's Washington Senators in 1970, and then retreated to Denmark. Players union head Marvin Miller got former Supreme Court Justice Arthur Goldberg to represent Flood, but Goldberg broke a promise to Miller not to run for political office. Deciding to run for governor of New York Goldberg was woefully unprepared to represent Flood before the Supreme Court. Frankly he embarrassed himself by giving what he called his worst performance ever. Flood's post-baseball life was difficult for the most part, but his loss before the Supreme Court alerted the baseball establishment that their lock on the game's reserve clause remained fragile. Eventually pitchers Andy Messersmith and Dave McNally won free agency when arbitrator Peter Seitz sided with the players after pleading with the owners and players to work something out together. The owners took their chances and Seitz sided with the players. Flood eventually kicked his alcohol and tobacco habit, and had happy years of remarriage and attendance at various baseball functions, but found out in 1995 that he had throat cancer.Read more ›
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Best Of All on October 29, 2006
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
There has been very little written about Curt Flood since his "autobiography" in the early 1970s and once a majority of the Supreme Court ruled that the reserve clause in MLB contracts would remain intact.

Author Brad Snyder does outstanding research in covering every aspect of Flood; from a young person who showed emerging talent in baseball, to the minor-leaguer confronting the absolute evil of racism in the stands and on his teams, the great center-fielder with hall-of-fame credentials, to his virtually standing alone in his court battle and his struggles as a former pro player who was viewed by so many as wanting to destroy the game.

The politics of the judicial system undid Flood's case. The majority opinion in the Supreme Court was written by a Justice whose research yielded a listing a great players from year's past. A colleague actually voted in favor of the opinion when one of his favorite players was included in that part of the text.

Flood virtually became a footnote in baseball history a mere six years after he elected to challenge the reserve clause. A definitive biography has been long overdue. But I can say now that is has been well worth the wait.

The task for writers who want to publish a book on the life and times of Flood will now be next to impossible. A Well-Paid Slave is a classic.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Barry Sparks VINE VOICE on February 25, 2007
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Brad Snyder's "A Well Paid Slave" is a book every baseball fan should read. The story of Curt Flood and his fight for free agency is one of the most pivotal events in professional sports.

Snyder is the ideal person to write about Flood's battle. He covered the Orioles for the Baltimore Sun, is a lawyer and a gifted writer. He brings all of his strengths to this book. As a result, it is thoroughly researched, easy to read, and explains the legal proceedings in layman terms. Snyder tells Flood's story, warts and all.

Flood's personal sacrifice was great, and few players appreciated it. Despite Flood's personal shortcomings (alcoholism, womanizing, and a deceiving portrait business), you can't help but to feel sympathetic toward him. The majority of the fans and sportswriters in 1970, thought of Flood, who made $100,000 a year, as greedy. They saw him as someone who was trying to ruin the game.

It was interesting to read how little support Flood received from the other black superstars of the era--Frank Robinson, Hank Aaron, and others. They were too concerned about their futures in baseball to rock the boat. It was also interesting to find out what happened to Flood after his retirement from baseball.

The book bogs down a bit in the sections about the Supreme Court case, but after all this is a book about a law suit. And, Snyder deftly handles the material.
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