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.)
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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 MooresCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved