December 5, 1957: The Cincinnati Redlegs trade outfielders Curt Flood and Joe Taylor to the St. Louis Cardinals for pitchers Marty Kutyna, Willard Schmdt, and Ted Wieand.

Frankly, it was a horrible deal for the Redlegs, one of the worst in club history though rarely mentioned and it had significant impact. The Cardinals obtained one of the best centerfielders of the 1960’s and the Redlegs received a corps of middle relievers who spent next to no time with the team. In addition, Flood himself may have been enough to have given the Cardinals the edge they needed to have defeated the Reds in the 1964 pennant race. The trade is listed as one of baseball’s all time top mistakes in “Rob Neyer’s Big Book of Baseball Blunders.”

Neyer wrote that Flood was signed at age 18 and starred in the same rookie league as Willie McCovey…only Flood was better than McCovey, leading the league in hitting (.340) and walks (102) while slugging 29 homers. In 1957, the Reds moved him to 3B and then later to 2B, which slowed his development and probably cost him his career with the Reds; he was traded the next spring to St. Louis Neyer quotes Flood’s autobiography:

The Reds wished me luck. Hail and fairwell. I learned later that Cincinnati had been impressed by Vada Pinson’s work during his first minor-league season, 1957. Because he (Pinson) was the bigger of us, and the faster, and because they neither needed me for third base nor particularly for an all-black outfield of (Frank) Robinson, Pinson and Flood, they unloaded me to the Cards.”

Neyer says more about the deal (read here), but Flood’s memory or reflections are his own and some may see it another way, but whatever the case, the Redlegs lost a player that could have helped them win the 1964 National League pennant. With Flood in the outfield instead of Tommy Harper, I suspect the Reds would have won the National League pennant in 1964. Harper batted .243 with four homers playing left field. For the Cardinals, Flood hit .311 with five homers, 211 hits, and won a Gold Glove. The Reds finished tied with the Phillies for second place…one game behind Flood’s team, the Cardinals.

Flood played eight games for the Redlegs in 1956-57 at ages 18 and 19, going 1-4. He immediately became a starter for the Cardinals in centerfield. Flood twice had more than 200 hits in a season, batted over .300 five different times (career .293), won seven straight Gold Gloves, and finished fourth in the MVP balloting in 1968 at age 30.

As for the other guys in the deal, Taylor was a former Negro Leaguer who made his major league debut at age 28 with the Philadelphia Athletics. He played parts of two more seasons of major league ball after the trade. He batted .262 in his one season with the Redlegs, and and played four seasons total, hitting .249 in 119 total games. Schmidt had two quality relief seasons with the Redlegs, going 6-7 with a 3.41 ERA. IN seven major league seasons, he was 31-29 with a 3.93 ERA. Wieand pitched two big league innings in one game. Kutyna never pitched for the Redlegs, but did pitch four seasons going 14-16 with a 3.88 ERA. The Redlegs dealt Kutyna to the Kansas City Athletics in March, 1959, for Walt Craddock who never pitched for the Redlegs, but did make 29 major league appearances, going 0-7 with a 6.49 ERA.