The Glove Club: Curt Flood
From 1963 through 1968, the National League Gold Glove Awards for outfielders were won by three players. The same three outfielders. Year after year.
The fact that two of these outfielders are center fielders should not go unnoticed. No left fielder could approach Mays and Flood in the field. (Clemente, of course, owned right field in the National League during the 1960s.) Any team would find room for both in the outfield.
No one could argue with the inclusion of Mays. He was among the first Gold Glove winners when the award was initiated in 1957. He won a Gold Glove every year through the 1968 season. And he probably would have won a half-dozen more in the 1950s if the Gold Glove had been offered.
Was Mays the best center fielder of all time? Maybe. But defensively, Flood could give Say Hey a run for that title. His prowess in the outfield was clearly comparable to that of Mays. And in some fielding aspects, Flood surpassed Mays.
For instance …
Flood had the speed to cover the center field space. And for the most part (more than any other center fielder before – even Mays), he covered it flawlessly. He went through the entire 1966 season – making 394 putouts and six assists – without committing an error.
From September 3, 1965 through June 4, 1967, Flood ran an errorless games streak of 226, setting a National League record. During that streak, Flood fielded 568 total unerring chances, setting a major league record.
During the 1960s, Flood led all National League center fielders in putouts four times and in assists three times. He led NL center fielders in fielding percentage three times, including his “perfect” 1966 season. Altogether during the 1960s, Flood won seven Gold Gloves.
Along with his fielding, Flood brought a potent bat. He batted .300 or better six times during the 1960s, with a combined batting average of .297 for the decade. He led the league in hits with 211 in 1964, and finished in the top ten in hits five times, in doubles four times and in triples once.