Curt Flood (born January 18, 1938 in Houston, Texas - died January 20, 1997 in Los Angeles, California,) was a Major League Baseball player, primarily a center fielder, for the Cincinnati Reds (1956-1957) and the St. Louis Cardinals from 1958-1971).
A three-time All-Star and seven-time Gold Glove Award winner, Curt Flood hit .300 or better six times during his 15-year major league career. Arguably the quintessential number two batter, Flood had a lifetime batting average of .293. Lou Brock even called Curt Flood a primary reason for his great success during the prime of his career. As a fielder, Flood was exceptional, and once went 226 consecutive games without making an error.
Curt Flood's greatest years were with the Cardinals. He had a league-leading 211 hits for the Cardinals in 1964, and played on his first of two World Series championship teams that season. Though not usually thought of as a power hitter, Flood had 11 home runs and 83 runs-batted-in in 1966. In 1967, he hit for a .335 average in helping the Cardinals to another World Series championship. In 1968, he finished fourth in the balloting for Most Valuable Player on the strength of a .301 batting average and 186 base hits. Ironically, had he not misjudged a Jim Northrup fly ball in the seventh game of the 1968 World Series against the Detroit Tigers, the Cardinals might have won their third championship of the decade. It was ruled a base hit.
Despite the uncustomary gaffe, Curt Flood was a solid contributor in all three World Series the St. Louis Cardinals played in that decade, scoring 11 runs and driving in 8 runs.
However, despite his stellar (and some would argue, Hall of Fame-caliber) performance during his career, Curt Flood's legacy was one of sacrifice. Believing that Major League Baseball's decades-old reserve clause was unfair in that it kept players beholden to the team with whom they originally signed for life, even though players had satisfied the terms and conditions of those contracts.