Cards All-Time Top 40 – Curt Flood #19


Posted Feb 5, 2007


The Top 40 countdown of the greatest St. Louis Cardinals of all time continues with their seven-time Gold Glove Award-winning centerfielder from the 1960’s, Curt Flood.

Curtis Charles Flood

The Basics

Position

Bat

Thw

Total Yrs

Yrs in StL

HR

RBI

SB

Avg

Outfield

Right

Right

1956-'69, '71

1958-1969

84

633

88

.293

The Awards

Hall of Fame

Retired #

World Champ

All-Star

MVP

Cy Young

Gold Glove

 -

 -

2

3

 -

NA

7

Note: All stats and awards listed are for years as a Cardinal only.
Flood’s career stats available from baseball-reference.com.

Voter Comments

Rob Rains (24): Curt Flood’s ranking in importance to baseball history would probably be higher than his ranking based on his Cardinal playing career alone. Responsible for challenging baseball’s reserve clause, Flood’s legal suit basically paved the way for free agency.

Flood’s Cardinal career lasted from 1958-1969 and during that span he won seven Gold Gloves and earned three All-Star selections. He topped .300 six times and finished with a career .293 average.

Jerry Modene (13): The one guy who’s blocking – just barely – Jim Edmonds’ rise in my ranks; Curt was the greatest defensive center fielder of his day (right up there with Willie Mays) and was also a .293 career Cardinal hitter during the pitcher’s-era of the 1960’s. He hit as high as .335 in 1967 and his .301 batting average in 1968 would have tied for the AL lead (Carl Yastrzemski led the AL at .301).

Not a particularly patient hitter, but nevertheless a good one – Flood even batted leadoff for a year or two after Lou Brock came aboard! Remembered now, of course, as the guy who fought the reserve clause (and lost) but paved the way for free agency; unfairly, he now gets the blame from a lot of fans for today’s high salaries, who ignore the fact that it’s the arbitration system, far more than free agency, that has driven salaries up.

Ray Mileur (14): Remembered most for his defense, Flood led the National League in putouts four times and in fielding percentage twice, winning Gold Glove Awards in his last seven full seasons from 1963-1969. He made the All-Star team in 1964 and again in 1966, the season in which he did not commit an error in the outfield; his record errorless streaks of 226 games (NL record) and 568 total chances (major league record) ran from September 3, 1965 to June 4, 1967.

What fans tend to forget is that Flood could hit. He batted over .300 six times, and led the NL in hits (211) in 1964.

Flood’s legacy to baseball unfortunately is his lawsuit in 1970 against Major League Baseball in an effort to eliminate the reserve clause that had, since 1879, bound a player to his team forever, paved the way for arbitration, free-agency and multi-million dollar salaries.

It’s a sad thing that after his brilliant career for the Cardinals, today Curt Flood is barely remembered by baseball and Cardinals fans.

Brian Walton (30): I agree with Ray. I suspect that few Cardinals fans today think about Curt Flood at all, whether positive or negative. Perhaps it isn’t as much a reaction over his off-field activities as much as his premature passing.

Unlike other heroes of the 1960’s clubs like Bob Gibson, Lou Brock, Mike Shannon, Tim McCarver and the rest, Flood died young - at the age of 59 back in 1997. That removed the chance for entire new generation of Cardinals fans to get to know him.

Despite all the focus on Flood testing the reserve clause, history shows he took 99.6% of his 6357 career at-bats wearing the Cardinals uniform. Jim Edmonds has “only” six Gold Glove Awards as a Cardinal (eight in total), while Flood earned seven.

As noted above, Flood’s time and successes as a Cardinal are closely linked with his long-time teammate Brock. Had Flood been able to enjoy eight to nine years more seasons in uniform like Brock instead of essentially having his career truncated at age 31, the chance might have been there for him to share the immortality for on-the-field accomplishments that only Brock was able to achieve. I wish I could have seen it happen.

Voter Comments Key: Voter (Individual Ranking); NR = Not Rated

Master List: To see our entire list of the greatest 40 Cardinals players of all-time as they are unveiled daily, click here.

© 2007 stlcardinals.scout.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, rewritten or redistributed.


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