Lawmakers push for Flood in HOF

The Associated Press

WASHINGTON — Curt Flood’s widow has a simple explanation for why her late husband, who is revered by players for sacrificing his career to advocate for free agency, has not been enshrined in baseball’s Hall of Fame.

“I think the holdup is that he got on a lot of people’s nerves,” Judy Pace Flood said.

Flood has some powerful advocates on his side.

Members of Congress sent a letter to the Hall of Fame on Thursday asking that Flood be elected in December by the next golden era committee. The recognition would coincide with the 50-year anniversary of Flood’s defiant letter to baseball Commissioner Bowie Kuhn in which he wrote, “I do not feel that I am a piece of property to be bought and sold irrespective of my wishes.”

“What Curt Flood did and championed is resonating throughout professional sports for the past 50 years,” Rep. David Trone, a Maryland Democrat who is leading the push for Flood’s enshrinement, said at a news conference.

Flood was 31 when he sent that letter on Dec. 24, 1969. He had spent most of the past decade as the starting center fielder for the St. Louis Cardinals. A three-time All-Star, Flood won seven consecutive Gold Gloves and helped lead the Cardinals to three National League pennants and two World Series titles.

“What a great ballplayer,” said Sen. Roy Blunt, a Missouri Republican. “When the great Stan Musial was finishing up his career in right field, Curt Flood would play all of center and about half of right so that Stan the Man could still be on the team.”

After the 1969 season, Flood asked the Cardinals for a pay raise. Instead, they traded him to the Philadelphia Phillies. Under baseball’s reserve clause, players were fully under the control of their teams.

Flood refused the trade and, with the backing of players’ union executive director Marvin Miller, filed a federal lawsuitin January 1970 challenging the reserve clause. The Supreme Court ruled against him in a 5-3 decision in 1972, but the justices agreed Flood’s arguments had merit. They said they could not intervene because it was up to Congress to alter the antitrust exemption created in 1922 when the Supreme Court ruled baseball was not interstate commerce.

History made

NEW YORK — Kerwin Danley became the first African American umpire crew chief in Major League Baseball when a series of promotions, additions and retirements were announced Thursday.

The moves included Alfonso Marquez being elevated to the first Hispanic crew chief in MLB history born outside the United States and second overall.

Crew chiefs Jeff Kellogg, Dana DeMuth, Gary Cederstrom and Mike Everitt have retired. Kellogg and Everitt will move into jobs as MLB umpire supervisors.

Danley began his umpiring career in 1985 in the Northwest League, and kept working his way up through the minors.

Red Sox blues

FORT MYERS, Fla. — Boston Red Sox left-hander Chris Sale will start the season on the injured list, manager Ron Roenicke said Thursday.

Sale, who reported to camp with pneumonia and is behind schedule, will be placed on the 15-day injured list and will remain in Fort Myers for extended spring training when the team breaks camp.

Sale ended last season on the injured list with elbow inflammation, making his last appearance Aug. 13 at Cleveland, where he gave up five runs with 12 strikeouts in 6-plus innings. Roenicke emphasized this trip to the injured list is not related to Sale’s elbow.

Sale went 6-11 last season with a 4.40 ERA in 25 starts.

Feeling better

NORTH PORT, Fla.– Freddie Freeman hopes to return to the Atlanta Braves lineup next week after his surgically repaired right elbow swelled and forced him out of action a few days ago.

The four-time All-Star had three loose bodies removed from his elbow in October to address years-long pain that caused an ill-timed slump last season. Freeman arrived at spring training saying he felt better than he had in years, but the elbow ballooned Monday after he put in a particularly long day Sunday.

The 30-year-old Freeman batted .295 last season and set career highs with 38 homers and 121 RBIs. He slumped in September, hitting just .235 for the month.