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In this modern world of social media and hashtags, you want to promote your cause in small, edible bites. Two or three words, ideally.
Hence my cautious optimism that #FloodTheHall will move the needle for someone who very much belongs in the Baseball Hall of Fame: Courageous groundbreaker (and pretty darn good outfielder as well) Curt Flood.
“I just think that it’s a very clever, catchy hook and it raises questions,” Judy Pace Flood, Flood’s widow, said last week in a telephone interview, “and those who know will definitely give the information. I can’t wait to put mine on.”
She’s referring to the #FloodTheHall T-shirt, which can be purchased online now and which, fingers crossed, will be worn en masse by the current major-league players later this season, perhaps even on Labor Day, which would be quite apropos. The Major League Baseball Players Association is in talks with the shirt’s manufacturer, the St. Louis-based 108 Stitches, regarding such an initiative.
“The timing could not be any better,” Curt Flood Jr., Flood’s son, said in a telephone interview. “It’ll be another five years if he doesn’t get on the ballot, and if he’s not elected, until he comes up again.”
Since Flood played from 1956 to 1969 (with the Reds and Cardinals) and then briefly in 1971 (with the Senators), he fits best for the Hall’s Golden Era, covering from 1950 to 1969, which will be voted on this December — although the greatest reverberations of his impact actually arrived in the ensuing years. When Flood refused to accept a trade from the Cardinals to the Phillies in 1969, writing a legendary letter to commissioner Bowie Kuhn — featuring the passage “I do not feel I am a piece of property to be bought and sold irrespective of my wishes” — it set in motion a legal saga that rose as high as the Supreme Court and, though Flood technically lost his case, his actions set in motion the machinations that made player free agency a reality after the 1976 season. You might recall that when Gerrit Cole held his introductory news conference at Yankee Stadium, after signing his nine-year, $324 million deal, he thanked Flood, among other baseball labor heroes.
Enter Eric Ross, the vice president of 108 Stitches, who grew up a Cardinals fan in Iowa, although not old enough to remember Flood’s playing days. He first learned about Flood’s contributions from watching Ken Burns’ famous “Baseball” documentary on PBS.
“My take on it was the game would not be what it is today without this one man making a stand and changing how baseball is operated,” Ross said in a telephone interview. “Unfortunately, we don’t tell his story anymore. It’s the 50th anniversary of his last game, and as a St. Louis company, our responsibility is to drum up interest, get some noise going.”
More important than the shirts, Ross stressed, is the petition he has launched on Change.org. This’ll be an uphill climb — a committee chooses the 10 candidates for the ballot, and then a candidate must receive 12 of 16 votes for election — yet there should be some hope with this summer’s induction of former PA executive director Marvin Miller, who greatly assisted Flood in his efforts.
In February 2020, a group of lawmakers held a Washington, D.C. news conference to announce they were sending a letter to the Hall pushing for Flood’s induction. This initiative picks up that effort in the wake of the pandemic shutting down so much, including the Golden Era Committee election that was supposed to be held last December.
“It’s called a museum, dedicated to the sport called baseball,” Judy Pace Flood said of the Hall. “How do you not have Curt Flood in that museum?”
It’s a fair question. This is one rare museum, one building, that should actually welcome a Flood.
Let’s catch up on Pop Quiz questions:
Retired Yankees legend CC Sabathia continues to expand his horizons beyond baseball. Last year, he launched a Roots of Fight Negro League collection (he was the creative director) from which proceeds were donated to the Negro League Baseball Museum in Kansas City. Last month, he launched an additional collection through Roots of Fight which is influenced by his youth in Vallejo, Calif.
Your Pop Quiz answers:
If you have a tidbit that connects baseball to popular culture, please send it to me at [email protected]
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