If you admire steadfast men, then it is hard not to admire former MLB outfielder Curt Flood. Regardless whether a person agrees with the stance he took regarding baseball’s labor system in late 1969 and through the early 1970s, the All-Star centerfielder made his stand consistently, with principle and at great personal cost. Indeed, his actions were in line with how the biblical psalm 15 describes an upright man as one “who swears to his own hurt and does not change…He who does these things shall never be moved.”
Exploits on the field by Curt Flood created stories of greatness. He was a Gold Glove winner for seven consecutive seasons. In fact, he established a then record errorless streak of 226 games (NL record for an outfielder ) and 568 total chances (major league record) which ran from September 3, 1965, to June 4, 1967. He batted over .300 seven seasons. He led the National League (NL) in hits (211) in 1964 and in singles, 1963, 64, and 68. When he did retire officially, he did so with the third most games in center field (1683) in NL history, coming behind only Willie Mays and Richie Ashburn.
Yes, what Curt Flood did between the foul lines was incredible. But he will always be better known for his challenge of baseball’s system and the way his case galvanized the players union.
However, when looking past the backs of baseball cards and getting a glimpse of the man a deeper than an encyclopedia entry, a person of far greater depth than ballgames and business deals emerges. There are several ways to attest to this, but at Baseballia we came across a unique, personal and moving side of Curt Flood.
Recently at auction a hand-signed letter, fully attested to by James Spence Authentication, was obtained for the purpose of being able to offer a nice autograph of the flycatcher (you may click here to see if it is still available). Probably because we were too busy trying to do several things at once, we only looked at the signature and LOA behind it. We never took the time to read the content of the letter. When we did, we were face to face with another reason to admire Flood.
The recipient of the letter is a well-known friend of the late Curt Flood and his wife, Judy. In fact, when HBO premiered their film on Flood’s life some years ago, this gentleman accompanied her to the showing. That relationship alone made the letter interesting. But it is the content of the letter, a poem of sorts, written with heart and warmth and encouragement from a friend that made us admire the former Cardinals outfielder all the more. He wrote,
“When going through life
and traveling in the direction
of your dreams, the best way
to get ahead is the simplest way:
Don’t look over your shoulder; if you do
you’ll feel the weight of all your
yesterdays upon you.
Play one game at a time.
Don’t try to hit a six run homer.
Stay with your own game.
Don’t worry about what lies ahead.
By the time you get to the bend in the road,
or the crest of the hill,
you’re going to be better and stronger
than you ever were.
Take it one pitch, one time at bat, one game
at a time and you’ll find a rich, thankful life
you never thought you could afford.