Auction to highlight free agency fight

By John Schlegel
Updated: November 11, 2009

NEW YORK — The estate for Curt Flood, the seven-time Gold Glove outfielder credited with paving the way for free agency, is auctioning off several items from his career, including artifacts from his historic fight against baseball’s reserve clause.

According to an Associated Press report, Flood’s estate is following the lead of former Cardinals teammates Bob Gibson and Lou Brock, who auctioned off some of their memorabilia earlier this year.

Flood, who had a .293 career batting average in 15 seasons in the Majors, challenged the reserve clause by refusing a trade to Philadelphia after the 1969 season.

That challenge is credited for starting the path toward free agency in baseball, as well as other sports. Flood died at age 59 in 1997.

“He changed the way they do business in the world of sports,” said Flood’s widow, Judy Pace Flood, in a telephone interview with The Associated Press. “He challenged the rules. He is the father of free agency.

“I think every professional athlete should thank God for Curt Flood, and I think every sports agent should have a little shrine that says, ‘Curt Flood, thank you.’”

The AP reported that the Flood items include: his first Gold Glove from 1963 ($5,000-$7,000), his 1964 World Series ring ($15,000-$20,000) and a framed portrait of Gibson ($3,000-$4,000) done by Flood, an accomplished artist.

There is also an autographed copy of the 1972 U.S. Supreme Court report on Flood vs. Bowie Kuhn, which laid the groundwork for free agency; a copy of a letter from Flood to Kuhn requesting free agency and a baseball signed by Rosa Parks in 1994.

“It gives me chills when I think of the connection — the mother of civil rights and the father of free agency,” said Mrs. Flood, who plans to establish scholarships and distribute money to family members with proceeds from the auction.