To Cooperstown or bust. In our United Cardinal Bloggers we have been doing a daily roundtable answering a question posed by each of the members. Yesterday we were presented with a list of former Cardinals. Our task was to decide which player should be inducted into the Hall Of Fame first. The list included, along with others, Curt Flood and Ted Simmons. (to see the complete list as well as today’s UCB post which includes the player I eventually chose, as well as the players chosen by all those involved, please go to http://retrosimba.com ).
This was a hard question for me because I happened to think they are all deserving for various reasons. After researching each player I went back and forth between Curt Flood and Ted Simmons. My head told me Ted Simmons. My heart told me Curt Flood. I thought I’d give the case for both of them here and let you, our readers, decide which one of these you would choose.
The fact that Curt Flood is not in the Hall of Fame is an inexplicable omission. Curt belongs for two reasons: what he did on the field but even more so by what he accomplished off. His courage has impacted every player that plays the game.
Curt’s accomplishments on the field can probably be argued as being HOF worthy. But they ARE worthy in my opinion. He was a superbly talented ballplayer. Sports Illustrated referred to him as the best defensive CF in major league baseball. This was at the same time Willie Mays was still showing his defensive prowess in the National League. Flood had a 15 year career in center field. He finished in the top ten in batting every year from 1963-68. His lifetime batting average was .293. His career OBP was .347, SLG was .390 and his OPS was .732. His career high BA was .335. He had 1,861 career hits. He was a seven time consecutive Gold Glove winner and a three time All Star.
He helped the Cardinals win two World Series. He was one of the top defensive center fielders in Cardinal history. Only Willie Mays and Richie Asburn played more games in CF in NL history that Flood.
Off the field, Curt Flood social significance is unchallenged. Flood challenged the notorious reserve clause which tied players to the clubs that owned their contracts. In 1969 when the Cardinals attempted to trade Flood to the Phillies, he refused to move. It wasn’t about the money. He simply wanted to remain a Cardinal or have a say in where he was traded. Taking this to court, he went all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court. Flood, with the backing of the Major League Baseball Players Association attempted to break a system that was the equivalent of 20th century indentured servitude. The Supreme Court ruled against Flood, but Flood’s actions set in motion a series of events that led to the elimination of the reserve clause and the beginning of the system of free agency, which most Major League baseball players today take for granted.
That was Curt Flood’s greatest accomplishment. He elevated the game for generations of players by his courage and willingness to stick by his belief: that he was not property, but a human being with rights. He sacrificed and shortened a terrific career to do so. Curt Flood died of cancer in 1997. For his contribution to our beloved sport, Curt Flood deserves to be inducted in the HOF.
Ted Simmons, one of the Cardinals greatest catchers, should, without a doubt, be a member of the HOF. Voters have traditionally been stingy with their support for catchers. There are only fourteen in the Hall. Ted also had the misfortune of playing in the era of a HOF catcher you might have heard of…Johnny Bench.
|Ted should make it on hotness alone.|
His offensive numbers alone make him more than worthy. Simmons played in the majors as a switch hitting catcher for 21 years. Ted stood out as one of the most feared hitters in the NL. He hit for an extremely high average for a catcher.
His lifetime batting average was .285, hitting in the top ten six times. He’s tied with HOFerYogi Berra and better than HOfers Johnny Bench and Carlton Fisk. He hit higher than .300 seven times. His career OBP is .348, his SLG is .437, and he has a .785 OPS.
Simmons has 2,472 lifetime hits, more than any catcher in the HOF. Simmons also had great power, hitting 483 doubles which ranks second among all HOF catchers.
Simmons had 1,389 RBI in his career. That total is higher than every catcher in the HOF except for Yogi Berra. He drove in at least 90 runs eight times in his career, ranking in the NL top 10 in RBI six times.
Simmons hit 248 home runs in his career. Only four of the fourteen HOF catchers have hit more.
He received MVP votes seven times, including three top 10 finishes. He was an 8-time All Star. He won the NL Silver Slugger Award. He had six 20-Home Run Seasons and three 100 RBI Seasons.
Ted Simmons had an extremely long career at catcher, playing in 1,771 games at that position. The Cards did not provide him with a great pitching staff. Simmons still had a career fielding percentage of .987. He did work with one great Cardinal pitcher and Hall of Fame starter, but only had the chance to catch Bob Gibson during the last five years of Gibby’s career.
He was considered adequate defensively, but won no Gold Gloves. During most of Simmons’ career as a catcher, Johnny Bench won the Gold Glove for the NL catcher every year.
Simmons’ numbers are definitely worthy, as he ranks in the top 10 among all-time catchers already in the Hall of Fame in a number of categories. He ranks 5th in runs, 1st in hits, 1st in doubles, 4th in HR’s, 2nd in RBI, 6th in BA, 4th in games caught, and 6th in fielding average.
He did finally get off those terrible 70’s Cards teams and to the1982 World Series in his days with the Milwaukee Brewers. Ironically they lost to the Cardinals.
Nicknamed “Simba”, his absence represents one of the Hall of Fame’s most startling omissions.
(photos courtesy in order-HOF, redbirdrants.com, HOF, cinenema.com)