Wednesday, March 20, 2013

FACE TIME: 1958 TOPPS CURT FLOOD




You've heard of a player being called The Face of a Franchise. This is The Face of a Leader. 

Curt Flood had a profound impact on the game, paving the way for free agency that benefited all who followed him. It came at great cost to his career and life, but the first through the wall always bears the brunt. 

This portrait, his rookie card incidentally, captures an underlining intensity. He's smiling slightly, but this isn't a just-happy-to-make-it-to-the-bigs look. There's a hardness here, maybe sadness, surely born from being a black minor-leaguer in the South. Some called Flood militant and a whole lot worse when he became a star in St. Louis and began speaking his mind. 

If you were in a union, you'd want Curt Flood leading it. Or on a ball club. Or owned a Fortune 500 company or the local Walmart. Who doesn't want to line up behind someone not afraid to do what's right despite the cost or how it might be perceived? That's called integrity. 

Imagine what could be accomplished with more people like him.

Interesting that this card looks almost like a painting because he fancied himself as a portrait artist. Even that became shrouded in controversy when reports surfaced he didn't actually paint all of his subjects. Certainly, Flood had faults, illuminated brightly because of the spotlight. He was an alcoholic, a womanizer and certainly never nominated for Father of the Year.

Despite his shortcomings, he was a leader, and that should always be remembered.

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