Curt Flood

Flood had a marvelous career that will always be marred by his misjudging of a fly ball in the seventh game of the 1968 World Series, and his suit against baseball that eventually led to free agency. The 5’9″ Houston native played just eight games with Cincinnati before beginning his stellar 12-year stay with St. Louis in 1958. In 1964 he led the NL with 211 hits. He batted a career-high .335 in 1967. In an act that Flood felt was “impersonal,” the Cardinals traded him, Tim McCarver, Byron Browne, and Joe Hoerner to the Phillies on October 7, 1969, for slugger Dick Allen, Cookie Rojas, and Jerry Johnson. Flood balked at his trade to Philadelphia, which had a poor team and played its games in an old stadium, before usually belligerent fans in 1969. Flood fought the reserve clause. He first asked Commissioner Kuhn to declare him a free agent, and was denied. He filed suit on January 16, 1970, stating that baseball had violated the nation’s anti-trust laws. Even though he was making $90,000 at the time, Flood likened “being owned” to “being a slave 100 years ago.” The case went to the Supreme Court, with former Supreme Court Justice Arthur Goldberg pressing his case. Goldberg agreed to work for expenses, which totaled nearly $200,000, before judgment was finally rendered. The Supreme Court upheld the District Court and Court of Appeals rulings favoring organized baseball. Flood sat out 1970, but signed with the Senators in 1971 for $110,000. To get the rights to Flood, who was still bound by the reserve clause, Washington had to part with marginal players Greg Goossen, Jerry Terpko, and Gene Martin, none of whom would ever appear with Philadelphia. Flood played 13 games for Washington, hit a paltry .200, and retired in April. He later spent the 1978 season in the A’s broadcasting booth with Bud Foster.