Curt Flood and "The Show Me" Spirit

By Devine, Joshua C. | Missouri Law Review, Winter 2012 | Go to article overview

Curt Flood and "The Show Me" Spirit


Devine, Joshua C., Missouri Law Review


Introduction

My dad loved the law and baseball. He also loved to combine the two. His first love was baseball. He grew up in New Jersey and quickly became a Brooklyn Dodgers fan after attending numerous games with his father, Dick. He was heartbroken when his beloved "Bums" left Brooklyn for Los Angeles when he was 10 years old. I don't think he ever got over the loss. (1) However, he did find some comfort in his loss with the formation of the New York Mets, which promptly became his new favorite baseball team. He shared his passion for the Mets with his mother, Lucy, until his death on May 12, 2010.

He found additional comfort in his loss upon marrying his true love, Sharon, who encouraged him to attend law school and to become a lawyer. Following his graduation from law school, my dad's legal career quickly morphed from private practice to teaching after the birth of his first son, Zach. He was faced with new obligations, including scholarly writing. Unlike many of his colleagues, who focused on "high-brow" subjects like torts, contracts, and real property, my dad combined his love of the law with his first love, baseball. (2) Using baseball labor strife as cover to write about his non-scholarly interests, my dad published numerous legal articles about baseball. His writing focused on labor issues involving his Brooklyn Dodger hero, Jackie Robinson, as well as other baseball legends. (3)

My dad's shift to teaching also caused a shift in his baseball paradigm. No longer an east-coaster, he took up the st. Louis Cardinals as his new favorite team upon moving to Missouri. This is not to say that he gave up his love for the Mets. Rather, it was unclear which team he preferred, a fact for which my brothers and I gave him substantial grief during the 2006 National League Championship series when his Mets were pitted against his/our Cardinals. While he shared in our excitement when the Cardinals won the series, he lamented the Mets' loss with his mother. He generally took the same approach when my little brother, Noah, and I attended a Cardinals/Mets game with him on April 17, 2010-the last such game we would attend together. The game resulted in a heartbreaking 2-1 loss for the Cardinals after twenty innings. My dad conveniently focused on what he called "a great game" instead of the painfully tragic loss suffered by the Cardinals at the hands of the vastly inferior Mets squad.

Although I never did determine which team he preferred, his admiration for the Cardinals was apparent. He loved the Cardinals storied history, and most of all their fans, whom he referred to as the "best fans in baseball" and "true scholars of the game." Given his admiration of and respect for the Cardinals, it is of little surprise that my dad eventually decided to turn his law-related efforts to Curt Flood, the former Cardinal who struggled to obtain contractual freedom from the organization in the late 1960s.

His article about Curt Flood's labor dispute has been in the making since my childhood. As a young boy, my dad took me and my brothers to a Cardinals game--one of many such outings. Prior to the game, we toured the Old Federal Courthouse, which stood just several blocks from Busch Memorial Stadium, the location of Cardinals home games from 1966 to 2005. During the tour, my dad told us that we were standing in the location where Dred Scott originally petitioned for his personal freedom and was wrongfully denied such right. My dad then told us the story about Curt Flood's struggle to become a free agent baseball player. At the time, Flood was subject to Major League Baseball's "reserve rule," which essentially made him property of the Cardinals, the team with which he originally signed a professional contract. …

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