The problems with major league Type 20B free agency this offseason have brought the name Curt Flood to my brain a lot. Now, with the Hall of Fame lacking Marvin Miller, there is at least another way to honor those who have made the modern free agency system a reality. A retired number is still the way to go to honor Cardinals greats. However, this would be a change from those who are given the honor. The Cardinals would make all of MLB players extremely happy.
No. 21 passed around regularly in the years since Curt Flood retired. Bake McBride, an outfielder from 1973 to 1977 and Allen Craig, an outfielder/first baseman from 2011 to 2014, have been the main people to wear No. 21 since Flood retired. Basically, the number has jumped around since Flood’s last game in a Cardinal uniform in 1969. Patrick Wisdom wore No. 21 last season. On Dec. 11, 2018, the Cardinals traded Wisdom to the Texas Rangers for Drew Robinson. However, the Cardinals gave Andrew Miller No. 21 this offseason. Once the Miller contract is over, though, the number should be removed.
"After twelve years in the major leagues, I do not feel I am a piece of property to be bought and sold irrespective of my wishes."
– Curt Flood before filing a lawsuit against Bowie Kuhn and MLB. His lawsuit helped bring in the era of free agency.
Curt Flood represents an important part of baseball history. His intent to step away from the reserve clause baseball teams had been using for years changed the path to getting players to make money. His actions, tied to the ones with Marvin Miller, led to modern day free agency. The reserve clause became a piece of the past. Now, with free agency under fire, Flood’s legacy has a larger spot in baseball history. While it torpedoed his career, he was the martyr for the good of the sport. The Washington Senators picked him up for the 1971 season, but the outfielder’s career was over.
A major problem with getting Marvin Miller into the Hall of Fame is rumored to involve politics. Many owners in baseball, who have a say in Veterans Committee elections, are diehard anti-unionists. Marvin Miller, who led the Major League Baseball Players Association union, has dealt with it. This is a complete black eye to the sport. To say the same could happen to Flood in this situation, if all is true, is accurate.
This writer does not know what Bill DeWitt, Jr. and his family’s attitude is towards unions. To put words in their mouth in this situation would be unfair. However, if the rumors about Miller and his Hall of Fame election are related to that, Curt Flood getting his number retired could help break the issue. If the man who stood up for baseball players’ rights has his number retired, then no one can deny Marvin Miller entrance to the Hall of Fame.
Curt Flood died in 1997 from cancer at age 59. If he was still alive, he would have turned 82 on Jan. 18. The 22nd anniversary of his death was on Jan. 20. With free agency under attack, we can lessen the pain by giving Curt Flood the highest honor he may receive.
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