Saturday, January 9, 2016
Senators Saturday - Curt Flood, 1971.
On October 7, 1969 Curt Flood began to change baseball as we know it. The Cardinals traded Flood to the Philadelphia Phillies. Under the reserve clause, Flood should have reported to the Phillies. He refused to do so and filed suit in court to have the reserve clause invalidated. The case dragged on through the 1970 season as Flood sat it out and waited. On November 30, 1970, with the case still in the courts, the Phillies traded their absent outfielder to Washington.
Flood agreed to report to the Senators and appeared in 13 games for Washington. There were flashes, but the old Curt Flood was no longer there. In 40 plate appearances Curt managed a .200 batting average and a .300 on-base percentage. He walked five times and struck out just twice. There were no extra base hits and Flood scored just four runs while accounting for two RBI.
Washington put Curt in center field, where he played in his glory days for the Cardinals. In 71 innings spread over ten games, Flood committed one rare error to drop his fielding percentage to an unusual .941 - 41 points below the league average. His missed season also appeared to have lowered his range significantly.
The results for Curt Flood in 1971 were disappointing. Manager Ted Williams still had confidence in Flood, but he no longer had confidence in himself. He was still locked in a legal battle he would end up losing to Major League Baseball and the stress of that was taking its toll. In spite of the fact that the owners approved the 10/5 rule in 1970, Curt would never benefit from it. After his slow start to the 1971 season, Curt Flood retired from Major League Baseball.