1938-1997. Born in Houston
, grew up in Oakland
. A great centerfielder, mainly for the St. Louis
Cardinals, in the 1960s
; he won World Series
rings in 1964
. He belongs in the Baseball Hall of Fame
for his offensive and defensive talents, but he isn't there, nor is that the reason for his modern-day notoriety.
Flood was a major "Jock Lib" figure in his day. In 1969, the Cardinals traded him to the Philadelphia Phillies, one of the worst teams in US professional sports at the time. He refused to report to his new team, protesting the fact that his contract had run out, and that no team should still own the rights to his services.
Flood chose instead to "retire" - sit out the 1970 season, waiting for a better deal, writing an autobiography; he also sued Major League Baseball, but the Supreme Court would later rule in favor of the owners. The better deal he sought never came; the owners were steadfast in maintaining their contractual power and advantage, and were steadfast in punishing Flood. He was traded to the Washington Senators - an even worse franchise. After a brief return in 1971, he retired
for real, moving to Mallorca, polishing his skills as a painter, running a bar.
Meanwhile, back in the States, athletes and their agents - lawyers had increasingly become a part of the equation - successfully challenged the
Reserve Clause that bound players even to expired contracts; it led to the current state of free agency, and, indirectly, to the Bosman Rule in Europe.
Every North American athlete should have given him 1% of the millions
they were able to earn after Flood - the first prominent athlete to risk his fame and career for the Higher Cause - helped open up the financial floodgates, but that never happened.