Book Review: A Well-Paid Slave


            A Well-Paid Slave is the story of outfielder Curt Flood and his court challenge of baseball’s reserve clause and anti-trust exemption.
The book contains several interesting story lines. Foremost, the book is the story of Flood’s life, from his upbringing in Oakland, California, through his struggles in minor league baseball in the segregated South of the 1950’s, his successes in the Major Leagues as a star center fielder for the 1960’s era Cardinals, his decision to challenge Major League Baseball’s reserve clause by refusing to report to the Phillies when traded after the 1969 season, to his court case and difficult life after baseball. Flood is portrayed on the one hand as a champion of individual freedoms, and on the other hand as an alcoholic who took advantage of others in personal and business relationships.
Other story lines contained in the book include:
  • The history of baseball-related law, including two prior Supreme Court cases and other rulings that establish baseball’s “presumed anti-trust exemption”.
  • The history of labor relations in baseball, including Marvin Miller’s rise to become the head of the Major League Baseball Players’ Association.
  • The breaking of the color line in MLB, and black baseball players’ impact on the civil rights movement in the 1950s and 1960s.
  • The office of the commissioner of baseball, with emphasis on Judge Landis and the book’s antagonist, Bowie Kuhn.
This book will be of interest to SABR members, especially those who enjoy reading about baseball law & labor relations, baseball desegregation, and baseball in the 1950s-1970s.
Here are the key statistics:
Book: A Well-Paid Slave; Curt Flood’s Fight for Free Agency in Professional Sports
Author: Brad Snyder             
Author Credentials: Snyder is a lawyer and writer. His previous baseball book, Beyond the Shadow of the Senators, The Untold Story of the Homestead Grays and the Integration of Baseball won the SABR Peterson Award.
Published: 2006, Viking        ISBN 0-670-03794-X             Length: 352 pages
Price: Retail list – $25.95; Online: new and used from $15.49 + ship.


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