Members of Congress urge Curt Flood’s election to the Hall of Fame

Getty Images
20 Comments

Yesterday Members of Congress sent a letter to the Baseball Hall of Fame urging Curt Flood’s election. He will, theoretically anyway, be eligible to be voted on this December by the Golden Days Committee, which is the iteration of the Eras Committees (formerly the Veterans Committee) which covers 1950-1969. In all, 102 Members of Congress signed the letter, the text of which can be seen below.

The idea, in addition to simply just attaining recognition for Flood’s baseball career, which many believe is long overdue, would be to have it coincide with the 50-year anniversary of the beginning of Flood’s quest to have some semblance of control over the course of his career.

That quest began when the Cardinals traded Flood — then a 14-year veteran who, like every other player of the time, had never gotten a say about where he’d work — to Philadelphia. Flood refused to report to the Phillies, sending a letter to baseball Commissioner Bowie Kuhn in which he wrote, “I do not feel that I am a piece of property to be bought and sold irrespective of my wishes.” Flood, with the support and assistance of Marvin Miller and the MLBPA, would launch litigation against Major League Baseball that, while unsuccessful, would prove massively influential and would help pave the way for free agency in baseball a few years later.

Maryland Representative David Trone, who is leading the push for Flood’s enshrinement, had this to say yesterday:

“Curt Flood changed the game of baseball when he courageously spoke truth to power in the name of what was right. Flood sacrificed his own career so players after him could have free agency, leaving one of the biggest impacts on the game to this day. It’s about time we all come together to recognize these distinctly American actions and induct Curt Flood into the Hall of Fame.”

Senator Roy Blunt from Missouri added:

“A copy of the letter Curt Flood wrote in 1969 is in the National Baseball Hall of Fame and he should be there too. As a lifelong Cardinals fan, I have always admired the talent he brought to the game and his bravery off the field. He deserves to be honored with his rightful place alongside America’s greatest baseball players.”

Flood was on the BBWAA Hall of Fame ballot for a full 15 seasons, but topped out at just over 15% support before falling off the ballot in 1996. He passed away in January 1997. He was a Hall of Fame candidate three more times — via the Veterans Committee — in the 2003, 2005, and 2007. In the past, arguments about his candidacy focused mostly on his playing bonafides which, while quite good, do fall a tad short of Hall of Fame level by the estimate of most analysts. He had a career line of .293/.342/.389 (career OPS+ 100) with 1,861 hits and just 12 full seasons. He was considered an excellent defensive outfielder, having won seven Gold Gloves. He led the league in hits once, but his only other times at the top of the leaderboard came in plate appearances, at bats and, dubiously, caught stealing. He was a three-time All-Star and received some downballot MVP support in a few seasons.

The case for Flood, however, is obviously about more than just his playing career. It’s also about his impact and significance in the game. Until this year it was fairly safe to say that the Hall of Fame and its various groups of voters didn’t care about that sort of thing, thereby leaving Flood perpetually out of luck, but this year’s election of Players Association leader Marvin Miller would seem to change that calculus. If the Hall of Fame is now, finally, recognizing the contributors on the labor side — as it has always recognized management-side figures like former commissioners and owners — it’ll be very difficult to ignore Flood. Marvin Miller was a tremendously important figure, but the movement of labor is, ultimately, done by the labor itself, in this case the players. Flood was a huge example and inspiration in that regard.

The ballot for the Golden Days Committee comes out this fall. It’ll be interesting to see if Flood’s name is on it and whether, finally, he can garner the support so many believe he deserves.

Here’s the letter:

 

Swanson, Olson go deep vs Scherzer, Braves take NL East lead

atlanta braves
Todd Kirkland/Getty Images
7 Comments

ATLANTA — Dansby Swanson and Matt Olson homered off Max Scherzer, lifting the Atlanta Braves to a crucial 4-2 victory Saturday night over the New York Mets and a one-game lead in the NL East.

The defending World Series champions beat aces Jacob deGrom and Scherzer on consecutive nights to take their biggest lead of the season in the division. New York, which held a 10 1/2-game cushion on June 1, faces its biggest deficit of the year with four games remaining.

Atlanta will try for a three-game sweep Sunday night, with the winner earning the season-series tiebreaker between the teams. Even though both teams are headed to the postseason, that’s important because the NL East champion gets a first-round bye in the playoffs.

Swanson’s 24th homer, a go-ahead, two-run shot in the fifth inning, touched off a frenzy among the sold-out crowd at Truist Park, the ball sailing a few rows up into the seats in left-center to make it 3-2. Olson hit his 32nd homer in the sixth, a solo shot into Chop House seats in right to put Atlanta up 4-2.

Austin Riley led off the fourth with a double and scored on Olson’s single to make it 1-all.

Kyle Wright (21-5) gave up two runs and seven hits with one walk and three strikeouts in five innings as he won his eighth straight decision. The Braves have won 16 of his last 17 starts.

New York went up 2-1 in the fifth when Pete Alonso, Francisco Lindor and Jeff McNeil hit consecutive two-out singles.

The Mets led 1-0 in the first when Brandon Nimmo singled, advanced on a walk and a single and scored on Eduardo Escobar‘s groundout. Wright, who threw 30 pitches in the first, stranded two runners in scoring position to prevent further damage.

Scherzer (11-5) allowed a first-inning single to Riley and a third-inning infield single to Ronald Acuna Jr., who advanced to third on a fielding error by Lindor at shortstop but was stranded when Michael Harris II lined out to center. Scherzer patted his glove and pumped his fist as he walked off the mound.

Scherzer was charged with nine hits and four runs with no walks and four strikeouts in 5 2/3 innings as the Mets were knocked out of first place for only the third day all season.

The Braves have won five of the last six against New York to tie the season series 9-all, outscoring the Mets 37-16 over that stretch.

Atlanta’s bullpen, which posted a 1.70 ERA in September, got a perfect inning from Dylan Lee in the sixth. Jesse Chavez faced four batters in the seventh, Raisel Iglesias faced the minimum in the eighth and closer Kenley Jansen pitched a perfect ninth for his NL-leading 39th save in 46 chances.

Since the Braves were a season low-tying four games under .500 at 23-27 after play on May 31, they have gone 76-32, tying the Los Angeles Dodgers for the best record in the majors over that span. They were a season-worst 10 1/2 games behind the first-place Mets on June 1.

Wright, the only 20-game winner in baseball this season, hasn’t officially become the first Braves pitcher to lead the league in wins outright since Russ Ortiz had 21 in 2003, but the Dodgers’ Julio Urias has 17 and can’t reach 20 before the regular season ends.

Wright will become the first Braves pitcher since Hall of Famer Tom Glavine in 2000 to lead the majors in wins. Houston ace Justin Verlander also has 17.

Wright began the game 1-4 with a 6.75 ERA in six career starts and one relief appearance against the Mets.

The Braves, who got homers from Riley, Olson and Swanson off deGrom on Friday, lead the NL with 240 homers.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Mets: All-Star RF Starling Marte (right middle finger fracture) has yet to begin swinging or throwing. Manager Buck Showalter said Marte is experiencing less pain but not enough to take the next step in his recovery. Marte has been sidelined since Sept. 7.

Braves: RHP Spencer Strider still has not thrown as he gets treatment on a sore left oblique. Manager Brian Snitker said there is no timetable for the rookie’s return. Strider has been sidelined since Sept. 21.

NICE GLOVE

Harris ran back and jumped to catch Nimmo’s fly against the wall in center field for the first out of the third.

UP NEXT

Mets RHP Chris Bassitt (15-8, 3.27 ERA) will face RHP Charlie Morton (9-6, 4.29) as the teams conclude a three-game series.