reserve clause


: a clause formerly placed in a professional athlete's contract that reserved for the club the exclusive right automatically to renew the contract and that bound the athlete to the club until retirement or until the athlete was traded or released

Examples of reserve clause in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web The reserve clause was sharply curtailed during union negotiations in the years following the court’s decision, eventually leading to professional baseball’s modern free-agency system. Matt Ford, The New Republic, 21 Sep. 2023 Minor league player George Toolson wanted to play in the major leagues but was bound to the Yankees and their farm teams by a reserve clause in his contract. Matt Ford, The New Republic, 21 Sep. 2023 The class begins with a history of athletes’ rights, going as far back as Curt Flood’s fight against the reserve clause in baseball, which eventually led to free agency. Zach Osterman, The Indianapolis Star, 17 May 2023 In the era before free agency, the league’s reserve clause bound Robertson to the Royals for the entirety of his career. Jay Caspian Kang, The New Yorker, 21 Mar. 2023 Eight team owners agreed to play only among themselves, deny entry to any other teams into the league and, above all, recognize one another’s exclusive right to their players via the notorious reserve clause, which gave teams the right to a player after the player’s contract expired. Paul Moreno, WSJ, 27 May 2022 From an ownership perspective, the past five years have brought a level of salary containment unseen since the likes of Curt Flood, Andy Messersmith and Dave McNally fought in and out of court to eradicate the reserve clause that once tied players to their clubs in perpetuity. Gabe Lacques, USA TODAY, 30 Nov. 2021 The reserve clause? Mike Bass, The Enquirer, 4 Mar. 2021 So after playing out the 1976 season, Mr. Campbell became one of baseball’s first group of free agents, a year after a federal judge’s ruling dismantled baseball’s reserve clause, which tied a player to a team in perpetuity. Globe Staff,, 8 Jan. 2023

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'reserve clause.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

First Known Use

1890, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of reserve clause was in 1890

Dictionary Entries Near reserve clause

Cite this Entry

“Reserve clause.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 19 May. 2024.

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