Allan Zerman, 82, attorney represented baseball’s Curt Flood in ‘free agency’ case

Allan Zerman

BY ROBERT A. COHN, Editor-in-Chief Emeritus

Allan H. Zerman, an attorney who was honored for his many years of practice, and who represented Curt Flood in the landmark case in which Flood sought to overturn the Reserve Clause that denied players free agency, died Friday, July 12.  He was 82 and a lifelong resident of Greater St. Louis.

Mr. Zerman was born in St. Louis on Feb. 3, 1937, the son of Jay Zerman and Rose Fadem Zerman. He was a 1955 graduate of University City High School, and of the Washington University School of Law with a doctor of law degree.

Earlier this year, Mr. Zerman retired from the law firm of Zerman Mogerman, which he helped co-found with Cary Mogerman in 1992.  Mr. Zerman received numerous awards for his legal accomplishments, including having been selected by his peers for inclusion in Naifeh and Smith, The Best Lawyers in America for Family Law since its first year of publication in 2011. The same directory named him the “St. Louis Lawyer of the Year for Family Law.”

He has been a Fellow of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers since 1987 and is a former president of its Missouri chapter.  Since 2005, he has been designated as a St. Louis “Super Lawyer” by Missouri/Kansas Super Lawyers, published by Thomas Reuters. 

Mr. Zerman was a Diplomate Emeritus of the American College of American Trial Lawyers, and held the “AV” rating of Martingale-Hubbell Legal Directory.  He lectured extensively throughout the state of Missouri on family law topics for such sponsors of Continuing Legal Education as the Missouri Bar, the University of Missouri, the Bar Association of Metropolitan St. Louis, and the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers.  He was an AAML-certified arbitrator for family law.

Mr. Zerman’s notable role in the Curt Flood case has been referenced in the case of Flood v. Kuhn in 1972, and was the subject of numerous articles and books and an HBO film titled “A Well-Paid Slave.”  Flood, who died in 1997, was a Major League Baseball star who played 15 seasons for the Cincinnati Redlegs, the St. Louis Cardinals and the Washington Senators. He was an All-Star for three seasons and a Golden Golden Glove winner for seven consecutive seasons and batted over 300 in six seasons.  He became one of the pivotal figures in baseball’s labor history when he refused to accept a trade following the 1969 season.  

Mr. Zerman represented Flood and the case was appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court. The legal challenge was unsuccessful by one vote on the high court. Later the policy was reversed during the tenure of Marvin Miller when he was president of the Players Association.

Gary Kodner, a cousin of Mr. Zerman, said he had an impressive law career, and noted that the Curt Flood case eventually led to major changes. 

“They lost the case by one vote (in the Supreme Court), but it opened the door for many others and eventually the Players Association prevailed,” said Kodner, who is a past president of the Jewish Light and the author of “St. Louis Cardinals Uniforms and Logos, An Illustrated History.”

Survivors include his wife, Marilyn Rose House Zerman; daughters Lisa Rae, Laura Lynn (Joseph Schellenberg) and Leslie Beth; son Kristopher (Joy) Stark; grandsons Samuel and Adam Schellenberg and Charlie and Ryan Stark. Also surviving are two brothers: Stanley (Adele) and Leslie (Lois) Zerman.