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From the Stars and Stripes archives

Torre in favor of modified reserve clause

By DON SAUER | STARS AND STRIPES Published: January 23, 1970

WIESBADEN — Baseball's reserve clause needs to be modified, but St. Louis catcher Joe Torre hopes that former teammate Curt Flood's suit against baseball does not go so far that the reserve clause is thrown out entirely.

Torre, here at the USAFE baseball clinic which wound up Thursday, said that without some sort of reserve clause arrangement or some means for the teams to hold onto their players baseball would be in trouble.

The veteran backstop said he fully supports the stand of the Major League Players Association in supporting Flood's suit. He took fellow player Carl Yastrzemski of the Boston Red Sox to task, however, for being critical of the association's backing of Flood as premature.

"The reserve clause definitely needs to be reviewed and modified — perhaps something like the arrangement which pro football players have would be satisfactory," Torre said.

"But I hope that it (the suit) never goes all the way. I'd hate to see the reserve clause thrown out entirely. That could be disastrous for baseball."

Torre said he could offer no special insight into the reasons for ex-mate Flood's action because "Flood, though he's my teammate, is not an easy person to get to know." He added that Flood obviously was making a great personal sacrifice.

"Curt is a very sincere, dedicated person. and I'm sure he means it when he says he intends to sit out the entire season. I have the highest respect for him professionally and personally.

Torre said he feels the reserve clause's absolute hold on players needs to be loosened a bit to provide them a better bargaining position. He doesn't feel that a modification such as that in pro football would he harmful but would he something both sides could live with.

"You don't really see that many football players leaving their teams, do you? I don't think it would be any different with baseball."

The players association is doing the right thing in backing Flood's action, Torre feels.

"Flood is a player and an association member. He came to us asking for support. and we decided to back him, it's a simple as that."

Replying to Yastrzemski, who had criticized the support move as being premature and without a polling of the association membership, Torre said

"If Carl Yastrzemski would come to our meetings once in a while, take time to find out what's going on — take time out from his busy personal schedule — he may not have made some of the statements that he has."

Yastrzemski's criticism came after the association board's 25-0 vote in support of Flood's legal action. He called upon Marvin Miller, association executive director, to send out a questionnaire to all members "soliciting their views on the reserve clause."

Flood's civil suit, filed last week in a New York federal court, alleged that baseball is a monopoly that places players in a state of peonage and involuntary servitude because of the reserve clause.

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