By Scott Wuerz
Curt Flood’s 1964 World Series ring, his 1963 Gold Glove award and an original portrait he painted of teammate Bob Gibson could be yours Nov. 14.
The items are part of the Louisville Slugger Museum and Factory Auction on Nov. 14 in Louisville, Ky. The sale will be conducted by Hunt Auctions, which is best known to St. Louis area baseball fans for its memorabilia sale at the All-Star Game in July.
“The things are important parts of history,” Flood’s widow, Judy Pace Flood said. “They don’t need to be locked in cases. They need to be out there in places where people can see him so they remember Curt and what he did.”
She hopes many of them will wind up in museums to be publicly displayed.
Curt Flood's 1964 World Series ring is one of many items that will be available for purchase at auction Nov. 14. The ring is estimated to be worth $15,000-$20,000.
Probably the most valuable item in the Flood lot is the 1964 World Series ring, which has his last name and uniform number, 21, on the shank. “Curtis Flood” is inscribed on the inside. It is expected to draw bids of $15,000-$20,000.
The Gold Glove Award is expected to fetch $5,000 to $7,000, while Flood’s old uniforms and caps are expected to cost $500-$750.
“Needless to say, the significance of Curt Flood in baseball history is pretty well versed,” said David Hunt the president of Hunt Auctions. “Whether people agree with his stance or not, he changed the way baseball operated. His effect on history shouldn’t be understated.”
Although he was a fan favorite during his St. Louis playing days, there isn’t much Curt Flood memorabilia available, Pace Flood said.
“He was out of the game early and, after what happened, he exhiled himself from this country for about five years,” Pace Flood said. “So even a Curt Flood autograph can be a rare thing.”
Flood, who came to the Cardinals in a December 1957 trade with the Reds, played on three World Series teams in St. Louis and was a fan favorite. He made his mark on history in October 1969 when the Cardinals traded him — along with Byron Browne, Joe Hoerner and Tim McCarver — to the Phillies for Dick Allen, Jerry Johnson and Cookie Rojas.
Flood didn’t think Major League Baseball should be able to tell him where he had to play, so he refused to go. He sued baseball to block the deal and took his case all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court. He ultimately lost the case. But it united players in their fight against the reserve clause that bound players to one team. And soon thereafter, they negotiated a collective bargaining agreement that allowed players to become free agents and sell their services to whatever team they wanted after so many years of service.
While fans know that Flood was one of the best fielding outfielders of his time — winning seven consecutive Gold Gloves — and a good hitter who was in the top 10 in National League batting average five times with a .293 career batting average, some don’t realize that he was also an accomplished artist.
“He was a very unique person in that he was talented in so many ways,” Hunt said. “His artwork is just amazing.”
Curt Flood's oil painting of teammate Bob Gibson.
Pace Flood, while she wanted to share many of her late husband’s favorite things, some she couldn’t bear to part with.
“One of the things the kids and I knew we couldn’t give up was his self-portrait,” she said.
If you are interested in the auction items — which include items from Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Ted Williams, Rogers Hornsby and other baseball legends in addition to the Flood items — but you don’t want to go to Louisville, you can still bid. Go to huntauctions.com to see photos of the items or to place bids electronically.
“This auction is not just for the high-dollar bidder,” Hunt said. “There are many items in the $100-$200 range that are within the reach of the everyday fan.”
By Scott Wuerz