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Curt Flood Legal Documents Collection

Identifier: MSSP 10008

Scope and Contents

This small collection consists of legal documents and correspondence related to Curt Flood’s lawsuit, Flood v. Kuhn against Major League baseball’s reserve clause in the early 1970s. The legal documents include official court papers from the Appellate Court case in the Second Circuit of Appeals (1971) and the Supreme Court decision (1972) against Flood. The correspondence largely consists of letters to and from the law firms Arnold & Porter and Wilkie, Farr, & Gallagher, who represented Bowie Kuhn (the Commissioner of Baseball) the National League, and the American League. The letters mostly provide updates about the status of the lawsuit, but two letters also document the request by Flood’s lawyers for detailed financial information from the defendants. Two telegrams to Horace Stoneham from Chub Feeney (1970) and Bowie Kuhn (1971) provide information about the status of the lawsuit and advise the recipients to not make public comments on the case. Additionally, one anonymous memo summarizes a discussion with National League President Chub Feeney about the case.


  • Creation: 1970 - 1971

Conditions Governing Access

There are no access restrictions on this collection.

Conditions Governing Use

Copyright status for collection materials is unknown. Transmission or reproduction of materials protected by U.S. Copyright Law (Title 17, U.S.C.) beyond that allowed by fair use requires the written permission of the copyright owners. Works not in the public domain cannot be commercially exploited without permission of the copyright owners. Responsibility for any use rests exclusively with the user.

Biographical / Historical

Curtis Charles Flood was a professional baseball player who played the bulk of his career for the St. Louis Cardinals. After the 1969 season, the Cardinals traded Flood to the Philadelphia Phillies, but Flood refused to report to his new team. With the support of the Major League Baseball Players Association, Flood sued the Commissioner of Baseball, the American League, the National League, and all 24 major league teams to challenge the legality of the reserve clause. The reserve clause was then a standard part of baseball contracts that allowed teams to automatically renew player contracts and reserved the club’s right to a player’s service indefinitely. Due to the Supreme Court’s 1922 decision in Federal Baseball Club v. National League that granted major league baseball an anti-trust exemption, Flood lost his case at the District court and Appeals court levels. Flood subsequently appealed his case to the United States Supreme Court, but the Supreme Court declined to overrule its 1922 precedent and ruled in favor of Major League Baseball. Although Flood ultimately lost in court, his lawsuit was an important milestone in the struggle of the Major League Baseball Players Association against the reserve clause. The campaign ultimately brought free agency to Major League Baseball in the mid-1970s.

Horace Charles Stoneham was the owner of the New York/San Francisco Giants National League baseball team from 1936 to 1976. Charles Stoneham “Chub” Feeney, Horace Stoneham’s son-in-law, worked in the front office of the Giants from 1946 to 1969 and was the President of the National League from 1969 to 1986.


.25 Cubic Feet

Language of Materials




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Repository Details

Part of the University of Notre Dame Rare Books & Special Collections Repository

102 Hesburgh Library
Notre Dame IN 46556