December 5, 1957: The Reds trade Curt Flood to the Cardinals

No one seemed to think very much of Bing Devine’s first trade as general manager of the St. Louis Cardinals.

After Devine traded relief pitcher Willard Schmidt and minor-league pitchers Ted Wieand and Marty Kutyna to the Reds for outfielders Curt Flood and Joe Taylor, legendary St. Louis Post-Dispatch sports editor Bob Broeg described the deal as “an exchange of lesser players.”[1] The Cincinnati Enquirer quoted an anonymous source – described as a “veteran observer” – who said, “It’s a deal that hurt both clubs.”[2]

Even Devine himself didn’t seem to understand what he had in Flood, who wouldn’t turn 20 until January.

As the St. Louis Globe-Democrat reported the following day, “Bing Devine has swung his first trade as Cardinal general manager, but he is under no illusion that the five-player deal with the Cincinnati Redlegs will immediately solve any of the Red Birds’ problems, chiefly the center field situation.”[3]

In the same article, Devine said, “It’s safe to say neither club gave up any player who promised to be a key man in ’58. The Reds need plenty of pitching help and Tebbetts got the volume he wanted, although Kutyna and Wieand have better chances to stick with them than with us.”[4]

Ken Boyer, a natural third baseman, played 105 games in center field for the Cardinals in 1957, allowing rookie Eddie Kasko to break into the lineup at third base, but the Cardinals wanted to move Boyer back to third base, where he would go on to win five Gold Glove awards.

Ironically, the Reds had converted Flood from center field to third base, using him as an infielder and pinch-hitter in his eight major-league appearances in 1956 and 1957. However, Reds third baseman Don Hoak enjoyed an outstanding season in 1957, blocking Flood at that position. At the time of the trade, Flood was playing winter ball in Venezuela learning to play second base.[5]

“We’re counting on him for 1959, not next year,” Devine said.[6]

St. Louis Globe-Democrat – December 6, 1957

Nonetheless, Flood was clearly the most intriguing piece in the trade. As Broeg wrote, “He could be the sleeper in the deal, the main reason it could be anything to remember at all in a year or two.”[7]

In his first year in professional baseball, the 18-year-old Flood led the Class B Carolina League with a .340 batting average, totaling 29 homers, 128 RBIs, and 19 stolen bases. He was so impressive that the Reds called him up to the majors late in the year, though he struck out in his only plate appearance.

In 1957, Flood played with the Savannah Redlegs of the Class A Sally League, batting .299 with 14 homers and 82 RBIs. Again, he was called up in September, and on September 25 he collected the first hit of his career, a solo home run off the Cubs’ Moe Drabowsky.

“Flood isn’t a big boy, but he’s strong, fast, a good outfielder and, as some other clubs’ reports show, has a better arm than the average we’ve credited him with,” Devine said. “We figure him probably still a year away, but two other clubs already have contacted us in an effort to make a deal for Flood with the thought they’d play him right now. It would, however, take a real good deal to get him.”[8]

In Taylor, the Cardinals were acquiring a right-handed bat they believed could bolster their bench. In 1957, the 31-year-old Taylor had hit .262 with four homers and nine RBIs in 107 at-bats.

Cardinals manager Fred Hutchinson managed Taylor when both were with the Pacific Coast League’s Seattle Rainiers. At Hutchinson’s urging, the Cardinals tried to acquire him, but the Reds had an agreement that gave them the first opportunity to sign Seattle’s players, and they claimed Taylor for their major-league club. According to the Globe-Democrat, the Cardinals had been willing to pay as much as $50,000 for Taylor.[9]

Cincinnati Enquirer – December 6, 1957

In Schmidt, the Cardinals were giving up the only player in the trade with significant major-league experience. In five seasons with the Cardinals, Schmidt had gone 25-22 with a 4.09 ERA. In 1957, the reliever received wins in 10 consecutive decisions to finish with a 10-3 record despite a 4.78 ERA.

Earlier in the week, the Cardinals had offered Schmidt in a trade that would have brought catcher Smoky Burgess to St. Louis. The Reds, however, wanted pitcher Sam Jones and catcher Hobie Landrith in exchange.[10]

“I’m sure we helped ourselves without giving up much,” Tebbetts said. “True, Schmidt is not a good pitcher to watch. He’s not a smoothie like Spahn, Antonelli, or Burdette, but he posted a better record than Gene Conley did for the world champion Braves last season and Conley is rated one of the Braves’ ‘big four.’”[11]

Conley went 9-9 with a 3.16 ERA for the Braves in 1957.

Wieand had pitched the 1957 season for the Houston Buffaloes in the Texas League, going 13-14 with a 2.83 ERA. Kutyna, meanwhile, split his 1957 season between the Richmond Virginians and the Omaha Cardinals, going 11-9 for the season. The Globe-Democrat reported that neither pitcher had been expected to make the Cardinals’ roster in 1958.[12]

Cincinnati’s Tebbetts said everything he knew about Wieand and Kutyna was based on information from his pitching coach, Tom Ferrick.

“Tom liked what he saw of the two youngsters in the ‘B’ squad games we played with the Cardinals last spring at Tampa and St. Petersburg,” Tebbetts said. “He believes both of them have major league arms. (I’ll) tell you what I think of their chances to stick with us after spring training next year.”[13]

Schmidt proved the best of the Reds’ acquisitions. Across two seasons in Cincinnati, he posted a 6-7 record and 3.41 ERA before playing the remainder of his career in Triple-A.

Wieand threw just 6 1/3 innings major-league innings for the Reds.

Prior to the 1979 season, the Reds traded Kutyna to the Kansas City Athletics for Walt Craddock. Over four seasons with the Athletics and Senators, Kutyna appeared in 159 games, posting a 3.88 ERA.

Taylor made just 27 plate appearances for the Cardinals, batting 7-for-23 (.304) with a homer and three RBIs before the Orioles claimed him on waivers.

Flood was the breakout star of the trade. He opened the 1958 season in the minors, but was quickly promoted and played 121 games for the Cardinals, batting .261 with 10 homers and 41 RBIs.

Under the tutelage of manager Johnny Keane, Flood enjoyed a breakout season in 1961, batting .322 with a .391 on-base percentage. In 1963 he won the first of seven Gold Glove awards, and the following year, in 1964, Flood was selected for the first of three career all-star games. With Flood patrolling center field, the Cardinals won three National League pennants and two World Series championships.

In October 1969, the Cardinals traded Flood, Byron Browne, Joe Hoerner, and Tim McCarver to the Phillies for Dick Allen, Jerry Johnson, and Cookie Rojas. Flood refused to report to the Phillies and sued to eliminate baseball’s reserve clause, which stated that teams retained the rights to players even after their contracts expired, making it impossible for a player to sign with another team unless they were given an unconditional release.

Flood appealed his case, Flood v. Kuhn, to the U.S. Supreme Court, and while it was unsuccessful, the reserve clause was finally struck down in 1975. In 1976, Major League Baseball and the Major League Baseball Players Association agreed to a new contract that gave players the right to free agency.


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[1] Bob Broeg, “Cards Trade Schmidt To Reds In Five-Player Deal,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, December 5, 1957.

[2] Lou Smith, “Reds Get Schmidt, Two Others From Cards For Flood, Taylor,” Cincinnati Enquirer, December 6, 1957.

[3] Jack Herman, “Devine Feels Deal Won’t End Birds’ Problems,” St. Louis Globe-Democrat, December 6, 1957.

[4] Jack Herman, “Devine Feels Deal Won’t End Birds’ Problems,” St. Louis Globe-Democrat, December 6, 1957.

[5] Brad Snyder (2007), “A Well-Paid Slave,” Plume, Kindle Edition, Page 51.

[6] Jack Herman, “Devine Feels Deal Won’t End Birds’ Problems,” St. Louis Globe-Democrat, December 6, 1957.

[7] Bob Broeg, “Cards Trade Schmidt To Reds In Five-Player Deal,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, December 5, 1957.

[8] Bob Broeg, “Majors Ready to Join Minors in Ending Baseball’s Bonus Rule,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, December 6, 1957.

[9] Jack Herman, “Devine Feels Deal Won’t End Birds’ Problems,” St. Louis Globe-Democrat, December 6, 1957.

[10] Lou Smith, “Reds Get Schmidt, Two Others From Cards For Flood, Taylor,” Cincinnati Enquirer, December 6, 1957.

[11] Lou Smith, “Reds Get Schmidt, Two Others From Cards For Flood, Taylor,” Cincinnati Enquirer, December 6, 1957.

[12] Jack Herman, “Devine Feels Deal Won’t End Birds’ Problems,” St. Louis Globe-Democrat, December 6, 1957.

[13] Lou Smith, “Reds Get Schmidt, Two Others From Cards For Flood, Taylor,” Cincinnati Enquirer, December 6, 1957.

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