Rep. Cleaver Joins Bipartisan, Bicameral Call for Civil Rights Icon Curt Flood’s Induction into Baseball Hall of Fame After COVID Postponed Last Year’s Vote

Jun 28, 2021
Press Release

(Washington, D.C.) – Today, U.S. Representative Emanuel Cleaver, II (D-MO) joined Reps. David Trone (D-MD), Cori Bush (D-MO), Ann Wagner (R-MO), along with Senators Roy Blunt (R-MO) and Dick Durbin (D-IL), to send a letter to the Chair of the Board of the National Baseball Hall of Fame, urging the induction of three-time All-Star Curt Flood into the Baseball Hall of Fame. Flood’s biggest impact may have come off the field, transforming professional sports when we challenged Major League Baseball’s (MLB) reserve system and helped create free agency within the MLB and other major sports leagues.

“While Curt Flood was a phenomenal ballplayer, his most profound impact came off the field when he demanded major leaguers be afforded the fundamental right to have a say in where one lives and labors,” said Congressman Cleaver. “His principled stand changed the game of baseball for the benefit of everyone playing today, and his legacy is one that few in Cooperstown could match. I’m proud to join my colleagues in a bipartisan call for Curt Flood to be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame—an honor of which he is more than deserving.”

“Curt Flood was a trailblazer in the world of professional sports and workers’ rights,” said Rep. Trone, who organized the effort to induct Flood into the Hall of Fame. “Flood stood up for what he believed in even though he knew it would mean the end of his career. If it wasn’t for Flood, professional athletes wouldn’t have free agency to own their own career. Let’s finally recognize Flood for both his incredible talent as a three-time all-star and his courageous and selfless efforts.”

“I’m proud to stand with my colleagues and baseball fans nationwide in calling for Curt Flood’s induction into the National Baseball Hall of Fame,” said Senator Blunt. “He had an incredibly successful career on the field, leading the Cardinals to two World Series championships and earning seven consecutive Gold Gloves. Guided by his principles, he made the brave decision to challenge the league’s reserve clause, knowing full well that it could jeopardize his career. If Curt Flood’s letter is in the Hall of Fame, Curt Flood should be there too.”

“Curt Flood had a remarkable career on and off the field. He risked everything to ensure players had a say in their careers by challenging the reserve clause. His life should be honored in the halls of Cooperstown so baseball fans, young and old, can learn about the impact he had on the game,” said Senator Durbin.

“Today, St. Louis and I honor the legacy of Missouri’s own Curt Flood by recognizing his accomplishments and sacrifices in his relentless struggle to assert his rights against the MLB reserve clause,” said Rep. Cori Bush. “I am proud to join my colleagues in urging Mr. Flood be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame to preserve his historic legacy and contributions.”

“Cardinals baseball is more than just a pastime for St. Louisans. Our team and its players have a profound impact on our community; however, perhaps no other Cardinal has made a large impact on Major League Baseball than Curt Flood. Not only did he amaze fans with his talents on the field, Curt Flood also changed the way players are treated off the field. I am honored to join my colleagues in both the House and Senate to urge the Golden Era Committee to nominate and induct Curt Flood into the Major League Baseball Hall of Fame,” said Rep. Wagner.

Last year, a bipartisan and bicameral coalition of 102 Members of Congress celebrated the 50th anniversary of Flood’s accomplishments and sent a letter to the National Baseball Hall of Fame urging the induction of Curt Flood. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Hall of Fame had to postpone their meeting last year, which will now take place this year.

The 2020 effort was endorsed by the Major League Baseball Players Association (MLBPA), the National Basketball Players Association (NBPA), the National Football League Players Association (NFLPA), the National Hockey League Players’ Association (NHLPA), and the Major League Soccer Players Association (MLSPA). It was also endorsed by UNITE HERE, a labor union that represents 200,000 working people across Canada and the United Sates in the hotel, gaming, food service, manufacturing, textile, distribution, laundry, transportation, and airport industries.

The official letter from the lawmakers can be found here.

 

Emanuel Cleaver, II is the U.S. Representative for Missouri's Fifth Congressional District, which includes Kansas City, Independence, Lee's Summit, Raytown, Grandview, Sugar Creek, Blue Springs, Grain Valley, Oak Grove, North Kansas City, Gladstone, Claycomo, and all of Ray, Lafayette, and Saline Counties. He is a member of the exclusive House Financial Services Committee; Chairman of the House Subcommittee on Housing, Community Development, and Insurance; member of the Select Committee on the Modernization of Congress; member of the Committee on Homeland Security; and a Senior Whip of the Democratic Caucus. A high-resolution photo of Congressman Cleaver is available here.