On Oct. 7, 1969, The St. Louis Cardinals traded outfielder Curt Flood to the Philadelphia Phillies in a blockbuster deal involving slugging first baseman Richie Allen. Flood refused to report to the Phillies and would take baseball to court over the reserve clause that binds a player perpetually to one team.
Although Flood would lose the case, it would eventually lead to the end of the "reserve clause" in baseball and open the doors for free agency. Here was our original report from the trade.
Outfielder Curt Flood, traded to the Phillies in the Richie Allen deal, said today, "I have decided to retire from organized baseball."
Flood, through a spokesman, said, "Under the circumstances, I have decided to retire from organized baseball, effective today, and remain in St. Louis where I can devote lull time to my business interests."
Flood is head of a portrait and photography firm. Of his retirement, Flood said, "I hope all concerned will understand my feelings and reasons for making this decision."
Flood's statement said that the Cardinals' announcement today of the trade "comes as a surprise and a personal disappointment."
He said, "When you spend 12 years with one club, you develop strong ties with your teammates and the fans who have supported your efforts over a period of years."
Flood was said to be earning in the neighborhood of $90,000 with the Cardinals. Flood said that he had spoken to general manager Bing Devine by telephone.
Curt said he told Devine that for the past year or two "it has been increasingly difficult to stay in top physical shape. As you know, I'll soon be 32 years old."
Flood's statement continued, "In addition, with my playing days nearing an end due to physical considerations alone, I've had to think of my own and my children's future."
A spokesman for the Cardinals said the team would make no immediate comment on Flood's announcement. The spokesman said that possibly the trade could be renegotiated with another player in Flood's place.
Catcher Tim McCarver, meanwhile, took his trade to the Phillies philosophically, saying he hoped he could make the Phils "a live team again." McCarver, reached at his Memphis home, said of the trade, "I really hate to use the old cliche, but I'd have to say this is 'one of those things.' I guess these things have to happen to any baseball player sometime in his career.
"I really hate to leave St Louis, because I enjoyed play ing there, the tans were as good as any fans you'll find anywhere in the big leagues. I'm truly grateful to the Cardinals for giving me a chance to play major league baseball.
"I got the chance to play as soon as I broke in, and I'm very grateful to Mr. Gussie Busch, Dick Meyer ard especially Bing Devine in the front office. And Red Schoendienst was a joy to play for. He'd let you play your own way and was considerate at all times.
"Bing told me this morning that it 'hurt him' to break the news to me. But I sort of prepared myself. I felt that if there would be a deal at all Involving me, it would be this winter. I know the Cardinals can use Allen, and Joe Torre can be the catcher.
"As for going to Philadelphia, I certainly don't expect trouble from the fans there. And I think it's a challenge to go to a club that hasn't won for a long time. I think I helped the Cardinals in 1964 that way they hadn't won a pennant for a long time before that, you'll remember and I think I can help the Phillies.
"Maybe Curt Flood and Joe Hoerner and I can make the Phillies a live team again. They've been going bad for quite a time."
Devine, speaking at a press conference to announce the trade, had suggested that the deal could be beneficial to the Phils, who were in dire need of a catcher.
"I think what the Mets did from one year to the next gives new hope to all the clubs regarding what they can do," said Bing.