Every off season we talk about free agents on the market – but the idea of a free agent has always been a part of baseball. Prior to 1975, players were subject to the reserve clause, effectively ensuring that they were the property of the team they played for, and giving them little bargaining power in negotiating their contracts.
The change in this system is chronicled in Alex Belth’s new book – “Stepping Up: The Story of Curt Flood and the fight for baseball player’s rights.”
You may have heard of Curt Flood, and for good reason. When he refused to accept a trade from the Cardinals to the Phillies in 1969, it set off controversy in baseball about how players’ contracts were setup.
This book will definitely appeal to those fans who are interested in the historical and business side of the game. Belth integrates the political unrest in the US in the late 60s and early 70s as well as Flood’s own struggles on and off the field to paint the picture of this change in baseball. It borders on a Flood biography, but don’t expect it to be that – while Flood is the main character, the story line is about the change in baseball’s labor terms.
With the baseball book review, I’m Pat Lagreid.