Tuesday, July 21, 2015

July 21, 1958: Flood Comes Up Big In The 14th

     On July 21, 1958, rookie center fielder Curt Flood removed an 0 for 5 collar with a 14th inning home run that beat the Braves 5-4 at County Stadium in Milwaukee.

     The pennant bound Braves looked like they were going to roll to victory early with a three run first that sent the Cardinals starter Lindy McDaniel packing before he could record the third out of the frame. The Cardinals started pecking at the lead in the third, when McDaniel's replacement Jim Brosnan picked up a one out double, then scored on a fly ball off the bat of Joe Cunningham. Wally Moon knocked Cunningham in with two outs in the sixth, then an error by Milwaukee's starter Lew Burdette led to the game tying run in the seventh. That lead was short-lived, as Phil Paine, served up a long ball to the Braves' first baseman Joe Adcock, in the bottom of the seventh, which may have had Burdette thinking the game was his, as he sailed into the ninth, before surrendering a game tying home run to Moon, which led to extras. Burdette was still on the bump when the rookie led the 14th off with the long ball that decided things. Bill Wight, who had taken over with one out in the eighth, then proceeded to set the side down 1-2-3 in the bottom of the fourteenth, which sent the 20-year-old Flood trotting to the locker room an extra inning hero.

     Flood hit 10 home runs and carried a .261 average during his rookie campaign. His defense would help him stick around, as he quickly became an elite defender that had his opponents holding their breath if the ball was hit anywhere within two city blocks of the man who donned the 21 on his back. He would man center for 12 seasons in Cardinal Nation, which included seven consecutive seasons in which he was awarded the Gold Glove. He will forever be known as the man who changed the landscape in baseball by challenging the reserve clause, but we must not ever forget that Curt Flood was one of the greatest players to ever step on a major league diamond.

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