Everybody knows about Jackie Robinson, but Curt Flood is another one of baseball’s trailblazers whose career has flown relatively under the radar.
As baseball gathers in Cooperstown this weekend to honor its newest Hall of Fame inductees, they will leave out Flood, who paved the way for free agency in the majors.
In a story published in The Undefeated on Friday, Flood’s children wanted to set the record straight on their father.
“I want my father in the Hall of Fame because I understand that that institution houses the history; he is an important part of that history,” said his daughter, Shelly.
Flood is known for sitting out the 1970 season after being traded from the St. Louis Cardinals to the Philadelphia Phillies. He sued Major League Baseball, arguing that the reserve clause — which essentially bound a player to their team — violated antitrust laws and was comparable to slavery.
The case went all the way to the Supreme Court where it did not rule in Flood’s favor and effectively ended his career, blackballing him from baseball.
Flood died in 1997 from throat cancer and struggled with alcoholism. Baseball has yet to vote him into Cooperstown. His numbers don’t scream Hall of Famer — he hit .293 in 12 seasons — but his contributions off the field speak much louder.
In 1996, his final year on the ballot, Flood received just 15.1 percent of the vote.
The article, written by William C. Rhoden, touches on the toll that Flood’s decision to fight took on him. He lost his career and walked away from his family.
But it is clear that his children respect him and want him to be recognized along with baseball’s other greats.
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