Curt Flood’s story has been told many times, and his legacy in the game is generally well understood (though likely still underrated).
In October of 1969, when the St. Louis Cardinals included Flood in a trade to the Philadelphia Phillies refused to report to his new team, raising objections to their constant struggles in the standings, their rickety stadium, and what he perceived to be a hostile playing environment.
By taking a stand, Flood was challenging baseball’s reserve clause, which gave a player’s original team the right to send him wherever they wanted (among other things).
Flood took his battle to the Supreme Court — he lost the case, but his courage helped unite players in their fight for more control over their careers, eventually leading to the free agency system, and concomitant big salaries, we see today.
Flood’s audacity in upsetting baseball’s applecart also ostensibly undid his career, as the seven-time Gold Glover and three-time All-Star missed all of 1970 and generally found icy receptions from teams across the game.
What’s not always remembered is that the ruling against Flood made his trade to the Phillies “stick.” Subsequently, after a year of controversy without ever seeing their new centerfielder on take the diamond, Philly traded Flood to the Washington Senators in November of 1970.
This time, Flood reported, and he opened the season as Washington’s starting centerfielder. After just 13 games, and batting just .200, though, Flood retired from the game.
Although Flood’s case was the height of baseball controversy at the time, it barely made a blip in the hobby, and Topps — pretty much the only game in town when it came to baseball cards at the time — rolled with the moves like they would have with any other player.
So we got a 1970 Topps card showing Flood as a member of the Phillies.
And a 1971 Topps card showing him with the Senators.
In both cases, of course, his old Cardinals cap was obscured in some manner, though he does don the Washington “W” on the back of that 1971 issue.
Not surprisingly, Topps left Flood out of its 1972 set, his retirement early in 1971 giving them plenty of time to plan for life without him.
But that next year — 1972 — wasn’t completely bereft of Flood cards.
That season, Milton Bradley produced another version of their baseball board game, complete with 372 player “cards” included in sheet form inside each game box.
Flood was there at #105, shown, fittingly, with no team designation on the front — not much different from his 1969 MB card.
Find Curt Flood cards on eBay (affiliate link)
Find Curt Flood cards on Amazon (affiliate link)
It’s a simple black-and-white headshot that’s a quiet ending to a baseball card run that included many beautiful 1960s issues, including an outstanding entry in the 1968 Topps 3D test set.
Flood’s on-field baseball career and baseball card profile, matching each other stride for stride, with the history books left to tell the rest of the story.
Flood may never make the Hall of Fame (though he might), but you’d be hard-pressed to find a more historic player, one who helped shape the modern game more. He left behind plenty of gorgeous memorabilia, too, like this ball on eBay:
It features a bold signatures and looks pretty great all around in its BGS holder … don’t you think.
Check out the full listing on eBay (affiliate link).