After twelve years in the major leagues, I do not feel that I am a piece of property to be bought and sold irrespective of my wishes. I believe that any system which produces that result violates my basic rights as a citizen and is inconsistent with the laws of the United States and of the several States.
It is my desire to play baseball in 1970, and I am capable of playing. I have received a contract offer from the Philadelphia club, but I believe I have the right to consider offers from other clubs before making any decisions. I, therefore, request that you make known to all Major League clubs my feelings in this matter, and advise them of my availability for the 1970 season.
"I certainly agree with you," replied Kuhn, "that you, as a human being, are not a piece of property to be bought and sold. That is fundamental to our society and I think obvious. However," he veered, "I cannot see its applicability to the situation at hand.
"You have entered into a current playing contract with the St. Louis club, which has the same assignment provisions as those in your annual Major League contracts since 1956. Your present contract has been assigned in accordance with its provisions by the St. Louis club to the Philadelphia club...."
The commissioner was upset because I had made it plain that I would remain out of baseball while the issue was being contested. Goldberg told him at one conference that he had advised me that to play baseball while suing would hurt my case and might even cause its removal from the docket. Federal courts do not accept a case unless it is plainly a legitimate dispute.
Kuhn reacted to this with great self-assurance, as though he were playing cat-and-mouse. But he was picking on the wrong mouse and he should have known it.
Said Kuhn, "You mean, Mr. Justice, that you are advising Mr. Flood not to play?"
Goldberg jumped on him. "If you want to do any quoting," he said, "you had better be accurate in what you quote. The decision about whether Mr. Flood will play will be made by Mr. Flood. I have given him legal advice as to the impact of his decision. The decision is his. The only quotations you are authorized to make are (a) Mr. Flood will make the decision and (b) as to his reasons for not playing, he does not wish to be considered a piece of property and he considers the reserve rules both immoral and illegal."
Later, Kuhn asked with apparent dismay, "Is it true that negotiations are out—that the suit will proceed regardless?" Again Goldberg took him apart. "You have a terrible habit of misquoting," he said. "It is my understanding that if appropriate modifications can be made through negotiation, they would satisfy Curt Flood. Therefore, if you want to carry out your legal right to negotiate, please do so."
By the end of February I was anxiously awaiting the decision on our plea for a federal injunction. Judge Irving Ben Cooper, of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, had heard the legal arguments with great enjoyment. At the end, he said, "Now you have thrown the ball to me and I hope I don't muff it."