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Bowie K. Kuhn

1969-84

Bowie Kuhn

With an academic background in economics and law, Kuhn was well suited to serve as Commissioner. He was counsel to the NL for the lawsuit brought against it by the City of Milwaukee when the Braves moved to Atlanta. He also served as counsel for negotiations between the Major League Players Association and the club owners. He played a crucial role in preventing the first potential strike shortly after taking over as Commissioner.

The following year brought the Curt Flood reserve case of 1970. Traded by the St. Louis Cardinals to the Phillies, Flood refused to report to his new team--instead challenging the legality of the reserve clause and the right of clubs to trade players at will. Ultimately, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the lower courts decisions in favor of baseball, ruling that federal antitrust laws did not apply to the game. But things were soon to change radically after this temporary setback in the 1975 Messersmith-McNally case.

Under Kuhn's tenure baseball did suffer a nearly two month strike in 1981, baseball expanded from 20 to 26 teams, and attendance doubled from 23 million to 46 million.