The Curt Flood Story: The Man Behind the Myth

Stuart L. Weiss, Author . Univ. of Missouri $29.95 (251p) ISBN 978-0-8262-1740-0

W ith his wiry frame and stern countenance, Curt Flood is the storied Cardinals center fielder who became a 1960s civil rights cause célèbre; however, a hagiographic shroud has enveloped Flood, making accurate assessment of his legacy difficult. This last year has seen three Flood biographies, and there is good reason to believe that Weiss, a history professor (The President's Man ) who takes a skeptical position toward Flood, has produced one of the most enlightening. Angered over being traded to the Phillies in 1969, Flood responded by suing Major League Baseball to do away with the reserve clause (which permitted the teams to “own” the players in perpetuity), which would secure him the right to negotiate freely with other teams. Flood's case went to the Supreme Court, where he lost. Behind the bland title lurks a carefully researched and cogently reasoned account. Weiss, unafraid to ruffle a few feathers, shows that, far from being motivated solely by high ideals, Flood's decision to sue arose out of financial and familial turmoil and wounded pride. Flood later turned himself into a sort of professional victim, exaggerating the racial strife of his Oakland boyhood and papering over his alcoholism and unpaid child support bills. Weiss has written a fine, passionate biography. (June)

Reviewed on: 05/07/2007
Release date: 06/01/2007
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