St. Louis Cardinals MLB Notebook – Week of January 17-23

photo: Curt Flood

No news is not good news as the MLB labor negotiations move at a snail’s pace. Our history feature highlights the trailblazing career of St. Louis Cardinals team Hall of Fame outfielder Curt Flood.



MLB lockout update

The MLB Players Association will make a counteroffer to MLB’s latest proposal on Monday, January 24, according to Jeff Passan of ESPN and Evan Drellich of The Athletic.  MLB’s proposal, outlined in this report last week, was presented to the MLBPA during a January 13 meeting between the two sides, and was not received favorably.

This counteroffer will be presented in an in-person meeting in Manhattan. It will be the second meeting between MLB and the MLBPA since the lockout began on December 1, 2021.

MLB’s last proposal essentially covered three items:  more money for “Super Two” players, an incentive to prevent service time manipulation in the form of draft pick compensation, and an adjustment to a previous offer of a draft lottery to try to limit tanking by teams.

There has been no information reported as of yet on the specifics of the MLBPA’s counteroffer.

For future lockout updates, check back here every Monday.

Trade and Acquisition Rumors

There are no trade or acquisition rumors to report.

Transactions

There are no transactions to report.

Injury Report

There are no new injuries to report.

Looking Ahead

On December 1 the MLB/MLBPA Collective Bargaining Agreement expired. No new agreement was reached and the Commissioner’s Office announced that the owners of all 30 teams voted unanimously to institute a lockout of MLB players effective immediately.

As a result of the lockout, all major league transactions are halted indefinitely. Players and team personnel are prohibited from communicating with each other and players are not permitted to use team facilities. The parties may continue to negotiate to reach an agreement that would end the lockout.

The deadline for teams and arbitration eligible players to submit salary figures was originally on January 14. This deadline has likely been extended to a date after the lockout ends.

There will be no major league activity to report for the foreseeable future as long as the lockout continues.

Blast from the Past

After profiling Rogers Hornsby and then Dizzy Dean, this week Blast turns several decades later to an outfielder who was not only a Cardinal icon, but a baseball trailblazer of another kind.

Curt Flood

Curt Flood was born in January and passed away in January, two days after his 59th birthday. His 12-year legacy with the Cardinals included seven Gold Gloves and three All-Star Game appearances, but his legacy to baseball itself is much greater. His fight over the reserve clause lit the fire that eventually consumed the outdated and unfair practice. Flood was a very good baseball player, but he will always be most remembered for his courage in taking on Major League Baseball for the betterment of all future players.

Curtis Charles Flood was born on January 18, 1938, in Houston Texas, and raised by his parents, Herman and Laura Flood, in Oakland California. He was the youngest of six children, two of whom were half-siblings. Curt began playing baseball at the age of nine and continued through high school before being signed by the Cincinnati Reds in 1956.

Flood made his major league debut in September 1956, in a game ironically against the Cardinals. Flood was acquired by the Cardinals after the 1957 season.

The following is a list of highlights of Flood’s life and career.

  • Flood played in only five games in 1956 for the Reds, and only three games in 1957 before the trade to St. Louis. Of those eight games, the Cardinals were the opponent in three.
  • Flood began the 1958 season in the minor leagues but was called up after 13 games in Double-A.
  • Curt met and married his first wife Beverly in 1959. He adopted Beverly’s two children and together they had three more children. The marriage was rocky and they divorced early in 1964, only to reconcile a month later and remarry. They divorced again in 1966.
  • After his first season with the Cardinals, a new manager was hired, Solly Hemus. Hemus was a notorious racist, and he and Flood did not get along. Flood’s performance was affected until Hemus was fired mid-season in 1961.
  • Flood got along well with the new manager, Johnny Keane. Keane made him the full-time center fielder.
  • Flood excelled both offensively and defensively from 1962 through 1968. He won six Gold Gloves and went to three All-Star Games during this period.
  • Flood led the NL in hits in 1964. He went to his first All-Star Game and finished 11th in the MVP voting.
  • Though Flood was a center fielder throughout his career, he played two games at third base and one game at second base. All three times he shifted from the outfield to the infield late in the game. The only one of the three games in which Flood fielded a ball in the infield was on June 21, 1960. He replaced Ken Boyer at third base after Boyer was ejected. Flood fielded one grounder at third base cleanly.
  • Flood played in 150 or more games in a season seven times. He ranks seventh all-time in games played as a Cardinal at 1,738.
  • Flood was named co-captain of the Cardinals along with Tim McCarver in 1965. He remained co-captain until 1969.
  • Flood made a costly error in Game 7 of the 1968 World Series that likely cost the Cardinals the series. He flubbed a fly ball by Jim Northrup that turned into a triple and scored two runs for the Tigers. Northrup later scored to make it 3-0 in the seventh inning. The Cardinals lost the game 4-1.
  • After the 1969 season, the Cardinals traded Flood to the Phillies. The trade was precipitated in part by a salary dispute with owner Gussie Busch. Flood believed Busch low-balled him in salary talks because of his error in Game 7. Flood eventually got the salary of $90,000 he asked for, but the relationship between Busch and Flood soured.
  • The relationship between Flood and Busch was not helped by some negative publicity for Flood during Spring Training in 1969. It was a result of the actions of Curt’s brother Carl, a troubled man who had come to live with Flood in St. Louis. Carl had been in prison for bank robbery and recently paroled. Carl and another man tried to rob a St. Louis jewelry store and led the police on a car chase through downtown St. Louis that was televised.
  • Flood did not want to go to Philadelphia, but he did not have a choice with the reserve clause still in his and every other player’s contract.
  • Flood wrote a letter to Commissioner Bowie Kuhn in December 1969 demanding he be declared a free agent. When that failed, Flood sued Major League Baseball in January 1970. The suit was over the reserve clause, citing a violation of the antitrust laws under the Sherman Act.
  • Flood took the case to the Supreme Court and lost. The Court acknowledged the lack of logic in prior case law but held that precedent required them to rule against Flood.
  • Though Flood lost, the case was still pending when the first Collective Bargaining Agreement expired after the 1969 season. With the lawsuit hanging over the heads of the owners, a new CBA was negotiated that allowed players to take grievances to arbitration. This led to an independent arbitrator declaring two players, Andy Messersmith and Dave McNally, free agents in 1975, thus ending the reserve system.
  • Flood did not play for the Phillies, but after a year out of baseball, he was signed by the Washington Senators for the 1971 season. During his time away from baseball, financial problems led to heavy drinking and by the time Flood reported to spring training he was not in shape to play. He began the season, but after 13 games, Flood left the team and the country.
  • Flood moved to Majorca, Spain, where he bought a bar. He gave up the bar in 1975 and rambled around Spain getting into trouble with the law. He was eventually released by the Spanish authorities and returned to Oakland.
  • Flood continued to drink heavily and faced financial difficulties. He was a broadcaster in Oakland for a time. Flood entered rehab in 1980 and tried to make a living by portrait painting.
  • In 1985 Flood married Judy Pace, a woman with whom he had an off and on relationship after his divorce from his first wife. Pace helped him get sober.
  • In 1995 Flood was diagnosed with throat cancer. On January 20, 1997, he passed away from pneumonia at UCLA Medical Center in Los Angeles.
  • Just prior to his death, Congress introduced HR 21 (Flood’s uniform number with the Cardinals). The legislation was named the Curt Flood Act and it passed in 1998. The Act carved out an exception to the Sherman Act for labor issues.
  • The 10/5 rule in baseball (Players cannot be traded without their consent after 10 years in the game/five with their current team) is named the Curt Flood Rule.
  • Flood was inducted into the Cardinals Hall of Fame in 2015. Despite all Flood did for baseball and the accolades he has otherwise received, Flood still has not been elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame.
  • In February 2020, 102 members of Congress sent a letter to the Baseball Hall of Fame, signed by all of them plus the players unions of the NFL, NHL, NBA, and MLS, asking for Flood to be admitted to the Hall of Fame. It has not happened, though union leaderMarvin Miller was inducted into the Hall of Fame last year.

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