(Curt) Flood the Hall

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Marvin Miller is now officially in the Baseball Hall of Fame, and your mileage may vary on how happy his extremely — extremely — belated induction to that institution made you. One thing I think we could all agree on, though, is that Curt Flood deserves to be in Cooperstown, too: and yet, he is not. Flood, who fought against Major League Baseball’s reserve clause to the detriment of his own career, was a labor pioneer for the sport, and his role in helping to establish free agency in MLB cannot be overstated even if he didn’t get to experience its benefits for himself.

He was also a damn good player in his day, too, and you would think that the combination of those two things would make him an easy choice for entry into the Hall of — emphasis on — Fame, but no. Flood’s career ended in 1971; he passed away in 1997. He was not inducted in those intervening decades, nor has he been posthumously inducted. It’s not just an oversight, but is a decision that has left a notable hole within Cooperstown’s supposedly hallowed walls.

This isn’t the first time I’ve brought up Flood and the Hall of Fame, of course. Back in July, I wrote about a letter that United States Representative David Trone sent to the Hall of Fame, in which he tried to convince their board to take it upon themselves to enshrine Flood since none of the voting bodies over the years had done so. I’m not just writing about it again now because of the timely nature of the Miller induction, either. I bring it up again because there’s been a recent movement to get Flood into Cooperstown, one you should be aware of so that this wrong can be… well, not righted, considering the extreme lateness to it all. But at least so we can move from the inferior “Curt Flood isn’t in the Hall of Fame” to the superior “Curt Flood is in the Hall of Fame.”

There is currently a petition at change.org, the goal of which is the election of Curt Flood to the Baseball Hall of Fame. Generally speaking, I’m not one for petitions insofar as believing they are a tool that will provide the results you’re hoping for by starting one: it’s very easy for people in power to ignore whatever will of the masses there is, regardless of the number of signatures, and since just about anyone can make a petition, you also get a whole bunch out there for things like “the skirts were shorter in the original Japanese version of this video game, you are ruining my life with your censorship.” For something like getting Cooperstown’s attention, though, maybe a petition can help in at least spreading the word to others, who come to learn that not only is Curt Flood not in the Hall of Fame already, but the reasons why he should be, and already should have been, immortalized there.

Others, like Astros’ infielder Alex Bregman, for instance. Bregman was seen wearing a “Flood the Hall” t-shirt, which was made by 108 Stitches: 108 Stitches is also responsible for the Flood petition mentioned above. Said petition has just over 1,100 signatures at the time of this writing, but you can imagine that, if a whole bunch of players found out about the shirts and decided to support the petition and just the general idea of Flood being deserving of enshrinement all these decades later, that the whole movement would be a lot larger.

There are certainly players who know about what Flood did and how his decisions helped create the paychecks and freedom of movement that exists within the game today. You can thank players like John Buck and Gerrit Cole for that sort of thing, since they go out of their way to spread the word of Flood and his importance to the next generation of players, so that they can spread it when they get to be veterans, and so on down the line. A little more education and a lot more pressure wouldn’t hurt the chances of success for the kind of campaigns that 108 Stitches and Representative Trone are trying to get off the ground, though. Having the players on the side of these campaigns would be huge for them, since players are so much more front-and-center than either of those parties.

Flood should already be in the Baseball Hall of Fame. He is not, though, and since no amount of being on a ballot seems to do the trick, outside pressure is necessary to change that. Flood does face quite the battle, of course, as players like him who are eligible for the non-BBWAA ballots after falling off of the initial ballots due to a lack of support have to both be nominated and then receive enough votes for induction, too. And candidates only appear on these ballots once every five years, as well, so it’s a lengthy process if a player fails to miss out once, never mind as many times as Flood has since he first became eligible. So, what’s the harm in writing about this initiative, even if it’s already been written about? Talk about it, share it, tell your friends, hope the MLBPA supports it en masse. Flood deserves much better than he received, on so many levels and in so many ways, but one small wrong can be tackled by getting him into Cooperstown. Even if it should have happened decades and decades ago.

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