Friday, March 30, 2012

#438 Sam Esposito

"Esposito' was my Mom's maiden name. When Sammy Esposito (he was always Sammy to me) was playing she'd jokingly say they were related. We knew better but it made me a fan of the guy.

Esposito signed with his hometown White Sox in 1952. After a couple token appearances with the big club sandwiched around minor league stints and a year in the military he stuck with the Sox in 1956. He never was a full time starter but got 200+ at bats in both '56 and '57 serving as a platoon guy and utility infielder. He hung with the Sox thru early in the 1963 season when he was released and signed on with the Athletics for the rest of the year.

Never an All Star, Esposito was nevertheless part of the White Sox '59 AL title team and he made a couple of  off-the-bench appearances in the World Series that year against the Dodgers. He had two at bats in Game One after subbing at third for Billy Goodman.

After retiring he became the head baseball coach at NC State and held that job from 1967 through 1987. He was this year named to the school's Hall of Fame. In 21 seasons his Wolf Pack clubs never finished below .500 after having had just one season above 20 wins ever. He was twice ACC Coach of the Year and in 1968 they finished third in the CWS. Esposito coached 12 future big leaguers and four who played more than ten major league seasons.

The orange bordered card of Esposito really shows off the terrific cap insignia and the 'flying sock' team logo. I mentioned recently how I have finally tracked one down in my size. Great look I think.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

#350 Ernie Banks

Ernie Banks, Mr. Cub. Hall of Famer, baseball ambassador, revered by Chicagoans and pretty much everyone else who was a baseball fan during his era. I could spend a lot of time reviewing Ernie's on-the-field accomplishments but you can see them easily enough over on Baseball Reference or any number of other sites. Here is a list from BR's Bullpen page:
  • 11-time All-Star (1955-1962, 1965, 1967 & 1969)
  • 2-time NL MVP (1958 & 1959)
  • NL Gold Glove Winner (1960/SS)
  • NL Slugging Percentage Leader (1958)
  • NL At Bats Leader (1958)
  • NL Total Bases Leader (1958)
  • 2-time NL Home Runs Leader (1958 & 1960)
  • 2-time NL RBI Leader (1958 & 1959)
  • 20-Home Run Seasons: 13 (1955-1962, 1964, 1965 & 1967-1969)
  • 30-Home Run Seasons: 7 (1955, 1957-1960, 1962 & 1968)
  • 40-Home Run Seasons: 5 (1955 & 1957-1960)
  • 100 RBI Seasons: 8 (1955, 1957-1960, 1962, 1965 & 1969)
  • 100 Runs Scored Seasons: 2 (1957 & 1958)
  • Baseball Hall of Fame: Class of 1977

A few lesser known facts.... Ernie played for the Negro League Kansas City Monarchs before signing with the Cubs. He held the record for playing consecutive games at the start of his career (424.. since broken by Hideki Matsui)... he held the record for grand slams in a season as noted on his Topps card cartoon... he was the first black player for the Cubs and made up one half of the majors' first black dp combo when he was paired with secondbaseman Gene Baker... he finished second to Wally Moon in the Rookie of the Year NL balloting but ahead of Hank Aaron (4th).... he has a web page (pretty sparse) and released a wine that benefits his foundation... he has a statue in his honor outside Wrigley Field (see below).

Ernie's card in this set is one of my favorites. Nice picture, more than a routine portrait. I think it captures him pretty well. Green isn't a Cub color but it seems to show off his uni and expression. My copy has some soft corners but it's pretty darn nice overall, at least in the context of my non-graded collection.

I usually avoid editorializing but I'll make an exception here. I was reading (maybe a card blog?) the other day and the writer was implying that perhaps Ernie's numbers didn't really warrant making him a first ballot H-O-F guy. Maybe, maybe not, when it comes to pure numbers. But in my mind the Hall is more than numbers, or it should be. My favorite writer growing up was the Detroit Free Press' Joe Falls who had a column in the Sporting News for as long as I was a reader. He once wrote that he determined Hall worthiness by asking himself  "If I was writing a history of baseball would I have to include this player?". That may not be a perfect way to do it but I always think of it when the yearly Hall debate rolls around. I'll take it a step farther. If I have to include the guy in the opening chapters, he's a first ballot guy.

Ernie Banks would absolutely have to be included in a baseball history book and would have to have a whole chapter to himself. He was more than a great player he drew people to him and made being a baseball fan more rewarding. Look at more than numbers. Look at Ernie Banks and you'll want to say "Let's Play Two!"

Here are my sons, James and Brooks (who just had to toss in his Astros cap) at the Ernie Banks statute during Christmas week of 2010.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

#82 Bob Boyd

For a time in the fall of 1960 Baltimore sports fans could cheer on the exploits of two guys named 'Bob Boyd' who were playing for the local professional franchises. 'Bobby' Boyd was, that September, a rookie cornerback with my cherished Baltimore Colts. Drafted out of Oklahoma he played very stellar football for a decade in Memorial Stadium. But at the opposite end of the age spectrum was a steady pro playing in the orange and black trimmed uni of the city's baseball team.

In the twilight of an effective stint with the Orioles was sweet swinging 'Bob' Boyd who's smiling visage on a nice '59 Topps card is featured today. Nicknamed 'Rope' for his line drive hitting, Boyd was a Mississippi native, born in 1919. He began his career as a member of the Negro League's Memphis Red Sox in 1947. 

By 1950 he's been signed by the White Sox and split time between them, their farm system, and the Cardinals system after a 1954 trade. He was out of pro ball in 1955 but he was drafted by the Orioles for the '56 season and began a span of production that saw him hit very well for four years as a regular or close to it. Boyd hit .300 or better for his first three years in Charm City with a smattering of power. He was fourth in the AL in 1957. He was the first Oriole to finish with a better than .300 average in the century. 

He ranked as one of the majors oldest players at the time and was indeed the oldest in the AL as he wound down his career in Kansas City in 1961. Traded to the Braves that year he became the oldest player over there as well. Boyd died at age 84. He was named as member of the Negro League Hall of Fame and of the National Baseball Congress Hall of Fame.

Yellow bordered O's card, Yankee Stadium background, a little off centered but with good corners. Nice card. Here's a bonus... Bob Boyd of the Memphis Red Sox and Orioles:

And Bob (aka Bobby) Boyd on the Baltimore Colts (whatever happened to that franchise, anyway?)

#445 Cal McLish

I'm only going to type this once.... Cal McLish's full name is: Calvin Coolidge Julius Caesar Tuskahoma McLish. He claimed that he was the first of his family's eight children that his father was 'allowed' to name so he made the most of the opportunity and tagged Cal with the long moniker. We only have Cal's word on that I suppose. 

But it brings up an interesting point about the back of McLish's '59 Topps card. Note the cartoon and the statement that "Cal is the proud papa of 8 kids." If that's to be believed than he had fathered 8 kids by 1959. Not to mention that he was from a family of eight kids! Quite a coincidence I'd say. Did Topps get their facts crossed? I did some digging. I read the LA Times obit that followed McLish's death in 2010 and they list five surviving children. OK, so maybe three of his kids had passed on. Entirely possible. So I decided that the Topps blurb was correct and was an interesting fact, not an error. 

Then I found a Baseball Digest story written in 1959, same year as the card. The story mentions his marriage and the fact that McLish children began arriving early and often. Then they mentioned five names. So he had five kids by 1959, not eight. The point? Well, I guess there isn't any except the guys who wrote the backs of Topps cards in 1959 could have benefited from Google. And the fact that sometimes I fixate on the minutae of baseball cards. 

EDIT: See the comments for clarification. I'm losing my eyesight. 

Anyway, Cal McLish took a long and winding road to his best season, the one that saw this card issued, 1959. He was signed by the Dodgers as a poor Oklahoma sandlotter in the mid 40s. He'd been an ambidextrous pitcher and switch hitter in American Legion ball. He was lit up in his debut season of 1944 in Brooklyn. Spent 1945 in the military and the next nine season bouncing between the Dodgers, Pirates and Cubs and their various minor league affiliates. 

McLish's dogged determination landed him in Cleveland in '56 as a member of the Indian's bullpen and he transitioned to a starters job in 1958, winning 16 games. That nearly matched the 19 he had won in his career previously. In 1959 he won a career high 19 and made his only All Star team. 

Following his banner year McLish was dealt to the Reds and then went on to White Sox and Phils. He never could match his '58/'59 form. He retired after the 1964 season. He's been released mid-year by the Phils. 

Following his playing days he remained in the games as a pitching coach and scout. The closest he ever came to winning a championship was as a member of the staff of the '82 AL champion Brewers.

McLish is a member of the Oklahoma Sports Hall of Fame

Friday, March 23, 2012

#80 Minnie Minoso

Minnie Minoso was born 'Saturnino Orestes Armas MiƱoso Arrieta' in Havana, Cuba in 1925. That's one name for each decade he played in the majors. Yes, Minoso played big league ball in the 40's, 50's, 60's, 70's and 80's. Or at least he made appearances in those decades. The 'playing' he did in 1976 and 1980 with the White Sox was really just PR, a couple of 'cup of coffee' whirls that got headlines when they happened. And add to this time spent in the independent Northern League in the following two decades makes Minoso the only guy to have played professionally in seven decades! (I played intramural softball in four decades at the University of Houston but that's a different discussion.) 

The five (or seven) decade hype kind of overshadows a pretty accomplished major league career put together by Minoso. Following a run as a Negro League player in the late forties Minoso debuted with the Indians in 1949. For the next dozen years, covering two separate tours with both the White Sox and Indians, Minoso led the AL at least once in triples, doubles, hits, stolen bases, total bases and hit-by-pitches. He made seven All Star squads and routinely garnered MVP votes. Three Gold Gloves line his mantel as well. 

His days as a regular player ended with stints with the Cardinals and Senators in the early 60's. But Minoso wasn't through as he played several seasons in Mexico after that. Then came the publicity tours with the Sox and  independent ball. Crazy.

Minoso still remains active with card show appearances and he threw out the first pitch at last season's White Sox' opener. He's got a well designed webpage with some great pictures and, of course, the opportunity to purchase Minoso gear. (Cool hat, but $45???!!!) 

I have a pretty lousy copy of this card as you can see. But Minoso is an interesting guy and I have liked him since I saw him play first in 1960 This one is on my 'upgrade asap' list.

Here's one of the pics you can buy at his site. 

Hey, look! That's me in background in the upper deck at Yankee Stadium, My Dad is off getting the first of my three hot dogs. ;-)

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Frank Sullivan News Flash

This is just something I thought was worthy of a different sort of post.

The newest issue of Sports Illustrated, the 2012 MLB Preview issue hits newsstands tonight or tomorrow. In it is a story about Frank Sullivan, one of this blog's Saturday St. Patrick's Day entries. The story's author, Jane Leavy, relates how in her book The Last Boy, a great book about Mickey Mantle, she has 'killed off' poor old Frank. She learns of her mistake in a call from Mrs. Frank Sullivan who is seated next to her very-much-alive husband.

Ms. Leavy goes on to write about her mistake in declaring Sullivan dead. She also writes of Sullivan and Mantle and their days of playing as opponents in the 1950's. She's a great writer (in my opinion) and I recommend either of her baseball books. The SI article is worth a read as well. See the link connected to her name above.

Here's the 6'7" Frank Sullivan one more time...

And the Norman Rockwell painting referenced in the story....

#204 Casey Wise

Casey Wise a.k.a Kendall Cole Wise... 'Kay Cee', get it? Classic 'good field, no hit' infielder. He hit .174 for his career which consisted of 321 at bats over four seasons. 

Wise began in the Cubs organization and hit pretty well. He made his debut with the Cubs in 1957 was traded to the Braves the next year and finished with the 1960 Tigers.

Before you write this guy off consider this... he had three big league homers and got himself a World Series share in 1958. He actually came up to bat in a World Series game in Yankee Stadium. OK, so Ryne Duran struck him out... how many of us have gotten to bat in a World Series? Or had two homers and a triple in one big league game including a dinger off Vinegar Bend Mizell? (one previous homer and he hits two in a game? And a triple? Holy cow!). Or actually worn that amazingly gorgeous Milwaukee Brave cap on a real big league diamond? So there.

His dad Hugh, and brother, Hugh Wise Jr. both played pro ball. His father played for the Tigers and was a scout for decades. Why Baseball Reference doesn't make note of that I don't know. His brother played in the Braves' chain for a few years as an outfielder.

After he retired Casey Wise became an orthodontist in Florida. His brother was a doctor as well and through Google I believe he does/did scientific research in D.C. Pretty cool family.

Blame my scanner for the dark around the edge on the card. It's really much nicer than it looks here.

Monday, March 19, 2012

#563 Willie Mays '59 All Star Selection

Willie Mays played in 24 All Star games covering 20 years (two games each year in 1959 through 1962). He hit .307 in those games and an OBP of .366.

When his regular card comes up there will be a lot more to say about Willie, one of the all time greats and my childhood best friend's favorite player.

My copy is, as you can see, far from pristine. But its Willie Mays, so its cool. Here's a another cool shot of Say Hey. this from his early career in New York.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

#87 Danny O'Connell

It's a bonus St. Patrick Day post!

Danny O'Connell.... does it get any more Irish than that? First things first, though.... I really need to adjust those scanner settings. The gray cardboard backs of some of these cards looks bright enough to read by. Jeez.

Anyway, Danny O'Connell broke into pro ball with the independent Bloomingdale Troopers of the North Atlantic League. I mention that because I think it's just a great name for a franchise.  He was soon a Brooklyn Dodger signee, but the Dodgers had more good infielders in their chain than they could count and he was traded to the Pirates prior to 1950 and debuted with them that season. He finished third in the Rookie of the Year voting playing mostly shortstop. After a couple of years in the military during the Korean conflict he was back in the bigs in 1953. After another good season he was dealt to the Braves where he beame their regular second baseman.

He was sent on to the Giants for the 1957 season, just in time to miss out on the Braves championship NL run. He finished his career in the AL with a couple of seasons with the Senators. He died in 1969 at the young age of 49. He was from the area I grew up in, the Clifton-Nutley-Patterson New Jersey region. He'd been a high school ref and I wonder if he ever did any of our games.

#323 Frank Sullivan

Happy St. Patrick's Day to Frank Sullivan. I'm not Irish myself but I'm sure one or two of you are out there planning a celebration.  And so in honor of the occassion we take a look at Frank Sullivan. He's a fine Irish lad* on a green bordered card so it's pretty much a given that he'd appear today.

Sullivan was a late 40's Red Sox signee and after a tour of their system and a stint in the military he jumped from 'A' ball to the Sox for a 14 appearance stint in 1953. The following season Sullivan began a string of five double digit winning seasons toiling for some decent Red Sox clubs. He tied Whitey Ford and Bob Lemon for tops in the AL with 18 wins and led with 260 innings in 1955, heady stuff. He had the league's best WHIP in '56 (as if they tracked that!). Made a pair of All Star squads along the way.

By the end of the decade the Sox fortunes had slipped and so had Sullivan's numbers. He was moved to the bullpen and then dealt to the Phils and on to the Twins before retiring after 1963.

You may note that the card's cartoon speaks of Sullivan writing short stories as a hobby. Well, that hobby became an avocation after his playing days and his settling in Hawaii where he still lives. He turned those short stories into a book called Life is More than Nine Innings. Check the link. It's a nice website that contains more about Frank Sullivan and his career. 

Here's to Frank Sullivan. Raise your green beer high.

Nicely off-center card, no? The back looks nearly white in the scan but it's actually the gray cardboard that Topps used before the later series in '59. I think I need to learn more about this damn new scanner. It's another of the dozens and dozens shot in Yankee Stadium showing the left field area. No way my Dad and I are not in at least one of these cards!

*=I'm making an assumption here, but I like my chances of being correct.

Semi-related note: There is an Irish American Baseball Hall of Fame. It's located in New York inside Foley's Bar on 33rd Street across from the Empire State Building. I'm going to be in New York this summer, I may check it out. Frank Sullivan is not a member btw. Maybe if he had been a Yankee? 

Thursday, March 15, 2012

#258 Fred Kipp

Here's one that could stand to be upgraded, the Dodgers' Fred Kipp. It looks worse in the scan than it does in my binder. When this card was issued Kipp was coming off a 40 appearance season in Los Angeles including nine starts. 

He was a left-handed knuckleballer who swung a good bat. He showed that with a .250 average during his 1958 season. In bits and pieces of three other seasons in the bigs he got into just seven other games. He had been a workhorse in the Dodgers chain and ended his career with a 3 season run the Yankees AAA Richmond affiliate beginning in 1960. 

I like how, in typical Topps fashion, his cartoon takes three long sentences to say "He started a bunch in the minors but mostly relieved for the Dodgers last year." What does "trouble tossed" mean exactly?

Kipp is a member of the Kansas Baseball Hall of Fame (don't laugh, Walter Johnson is in there, too. So is Ralph Houk) and attended Emporia State. I had a good friend who went there after we graduated high school in Jersey. Never really told me why.

This makes three Dodgers in the past week of so to be featured. For whatever that implies.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

#260 Early Wynn

I present Hall of Famer and 300 game winner Early Wynn. Does this guy personify 1950's baseball or what? By the 1959 season Wynn had long ago established his resume. He'd had numerous 20 win seasons, an AL championship ring, many All Star appearances, etc. He'd pretty much split his time in the bigs between the Senators and Indians and served a year (1945) in the military during WWII. Along the way he had built a reputation as a durable hard-nosed headhunter with a blazing fastball as well as a variety of other pitches.

Some thought he was on the decline when the Indians traded him to the White Sox for 1958 (although it should be noted a lot of Indian fans disagreed). Wynn showed that he had some life left in his powerful arm and led the Sox to the '59 World Series to cap off a year that saw him win the Cy Young Award. He had a good year again in 1960, winning 14, but by '63 he was hooking on with the Indians again at mid-season in an effort to get his elusive 300th win. He picked it up on July 13 in Kansas City with a shaky five inning effort. It was his last win. He retired after the '63 season and spent time as a pitching coach and broadcaster for several big league clubs.

Wynn is another guy who is identified with different club by different people. To me he's an Indian mainly due to my managing the '54 Tribe in Strat-O-Matic. This despite having seen him live as a White Sox starter. 

That's the Yankee Stadium scoreboard to the right of this shot on the '59 card. Can't quite make out the Ballantine sign or the Longines clock but they are there someplace. The White Sox cap with the red outlined S-O-X took me years to track down in my size (or any size for that mater). I don't consider it traitorous to my Oriole roots. It's just a great cap. I have a Milwaukee Braves cap, too. 

Finally, here is the Bowman Early Wynn card from their 1953 set. No other comment needed.

Monday, March 12, 2012

#411 Whitey Lockman

Another '59er that looks like your uncle, Whitey Lockman was a baseball 'lifer'. He was playing in the minors at 16 and spent pretty much the entirety of his life in the game in one position or another.

Lockman began his major league career as an 18 year old New York Giant in 1945. After spending the next season in the military he returned and played for the Giants right up through 1958 and their move to the west coast. He did take a detour to St. Louis and played the second half of the '56 season with the Cardinals after a mid-season trade but the Giants, perhaps missing his wavy reddish locks, traded for him in time for 1957.

Playing the outfield and first base Lockman put together a very respectable resume with the Giants making the 1952 All Star Game and challenging the .300 mark fairly regularly. He scored the tying run in the famous 'Shot Heard 'Round the World' Giants-Dodgers 1951 playoff game. He had reached base before the Bobby Thomson blast that ended it. 

As reflected on this card he emerged with the Orioles for 1959 but was dealt to the Reds in June. He was brought back to Cincy in 1960 but played sparingly before being released for good in July.

After his playing days he became a coach for the Reds and then worked his way through the Cubs organization in nearly every capacity possible culminating with his being named their manager in 1972, a job he held into 1974. He continued in the game in the front offices of the Cubs, Expos and Marlins through 2001.

Yahoo Sports ran a nice obit/story after Lockman died in 2009. It's a tribute to a baseball life well lived.

This is a recently upgraded copy of the Whitey Lockman card. Since I have one in my Topps Orioles run I guess I have at least three now. I'm pretty much Whitey Lockman'd out.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

#43 Steve Bilko

Steve Bilko was 'one of those guys". Big time minor league slugger that never could replicate those feats in the majors. After slugging his way through the Cardinals organization and getting yearly looks with the big club Bilko finally stuck with the Cards in 1953. That year he played full time, getting into 154 games, banging out 21 homers and leading the league in whiffs.

Then it was back to the nomadic existence of a bat-for-hire and Bilko played in the Cubs', Dodgers' and Orioles chains while sandwiching in a 20 homer season with the expansion Los Angeles Angels in 1961. That year represented a return to the scene of his minor league 'glory'. LA's Wrigley Field had been his home with the PCL's Angels. He'd popped 148 homers and  had 428 RBI's in '55-'57 when the club was a Cub affiliate.

Bilko retired after the 1963 season he spent with the Rochester club in the Orioles system. He died at the age of just 49 in 1978.

You have to like those old extra short sleeved uni tops that allowed Bilko and others like him to show off their 'guns'.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

#222 Bobby Shantz

I frequent a baseball related forum and a thread came up recently concerning which team you associate a particular player with. For example: Bill Madlock... Pirates? Cubs? Or Nolan Ryan... Angels? Rangers? Astros?
I thought of that when I was looking at Bobby Shantz' career. To me he's a Yankee but he actually only spent four of sixteen big league seasons in the Bronx. And his best work by far came in his days with the Athletics, particularly in Philadelphia.

In 1951, his third season in the bigs he went 18-10 for a 70 win A's club and he backed that up in '52 with a superb season. He was 24-7 for the A's who won 79 games total. He posted an ERA of 2.48 and a WHIP of 1.048, best in the league. For his efforts the 5'6" side-armer was named AL MVP. Not an easy thing to do in those days of sluggers and stars. 

Shantz never approached those numbers again in the remainder of his career but he finished with eight Gold Gloves for his fielding prowess (he'd have won more perhaps had they been awarded prior to 1957. He moved to a relievers role in 1958. He was a three time All Star and picked up a World Series ring and two more AL titles while with the Yankees in the late 50's and 1960.

Shantz' brother Billy, a catcher, teamed with him with the A's in both Philly and Kansas City and briefly with the Yanks in 1960. I believe Bobby still does card shows.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

#223 St. Louis Cardinals

The 1959 Cardinals were a 7th place entry in the N.L. that year. Stan Musial hit only .255 with 44 RBIs. Ken Boyer led them with 28 dingers and drove in 94. Larry Jackson and Lindy McDaniel each won 14 for the Redbirds. 

Looks like the kid who had this checklist back in the day was able to complete the 4th Series. He gave it the big blue crayon check-mark. My detective instincts tell me Billy Hoeft was the last card he needed since it wasn't filled in. I can see the kid with this checklist on the kitchen table opening packs his Dad brought home after work at the little store right near the bus stop. As soon as the kid saw the Hoeft card... swoosh, done with this series!!!

I doubt he cared that it's off-center any more then than I do now.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

#71 Don Bessent

If the name Don Bessent doesn't ring a bell, you're not alone. I thought I knew a bit about the 'Boys of Summer' era Dodgers but I can't place this guy. And I feel guilty because every thing I read says he was a pretty fair reliever during his career for the Dodgers in Brooklyn, particularly in the Bums' World Series season of 1955 and 1956.

The numbers show Bessent (his actual first name is 'Fred' btw... note his card-front sig) pitched well in both of those Series', getting a ring in '55 and a win in '56. He was less effective in his next two seasons and ended up pitching in the Dodgers, Indians and Orioles systems until he left the game in 1962. By the time this card was issued he had made his last pitch in the majors. 

Bessent went on to become a State Representative in his native Florida after retirement. He died of alcohol poisoning at the age of 59 while parked outside a Jacksonville fast food spot. That fact, and his nickname (The Weasel), deserve some further homework. 

Any Dodger fans out there? What say you, Night Owl? You know anything about this guy?

Saturday, March 3, 2012

#363 Curt Flood

Editorial note: I'm back after a hiatus that was the result of blog burnout, fantasy football season and scanner problems. I plan to resume posting cards from my 1959 Topps collection on a regular basis but the daily postings are a thing of the past. Putting up a post every day became a problem at times. I will do my best to post several cards each week. The write-ups will vary from detailed to cursory depending on the card and my available time.  -Bob

This off-center, scuffed and blemished copy of Curt Flood's '59 card doesn't do his career justice. Mention his name to a baseball fan my age and most will think of his pioneering stance that challenged and forever changed baseball's established way of doing business. You can read about that aspect of Flood's legacy here at the Baseball Reliquary site in a short but well done article.

After coming up with the Reds in 1956 Flood spent 12 full seasons as an outstanding player for the St. Louis Cardinals ending with a trade to the Phillies in 1970 that sparked his crusade to overturn the reserve clause. Except for a brief tenure with the Senators in 1971 the sport was done with him.

Along the way Flood won 7 Gold Gloves as the Cardinals' centerfielder, made three All Star squads and accumulated MVP votes from '63 thru '68. A career .293 hitter, Flood won World Series rings with the Cards in '64 and '67, coming close again in 1968.

Flood died of throat cancer in 1997.