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Comment of the Day: Curt Flood Jr. talks about the Stan Musial restaurant story

Mar 25, 2011, 5:30 AM EDT

Curt Flood

Yesterday I highlighted Murray Chass’ poorly-sourced hatchet job against Stan Musial. The leadoff in that hatchet job was Chass’ claim — based on a story Curt Flood allegedly told Marvin Miller who told Chass — was that Flood was refused service at Stan Musial’s restaurant some time in the 1960s because Flood was black. Chass’ wrapup to that was to assert that Musial is “someone who discriminated against blacks,” and is thus unworthy of our adulation. His headline: Stan Musial is “no man of honor.”

Last night, a commenter shed a little more light on that story. And I’m inclined to feature his comment because that man’s name is Curt Flood, Jr.  His comment:

Let me say at the outset that I have been in Musial’s company on several occasions. I once even sat next to him at a Cardinals Old Timers Game” in the dugout at the old Busch Stadium for about an an hour. He was warm, gracious and said things about my father that were beautiful. He also graciously signed everything that i could find that was not nailed down. Stan Musial is a good, decent and honorable man.

I have not read Mr. Chass’s blog, however, the incident DID in fact happen to my father and my mother. But according to my parents, Mr. Musial was not in the restaurant. His doorman that night called Mr. Musial by telephone, but by the time it could rectified, my parents were pretty much fed up with not being fed up.

Best,

Curt Flood, Jr.

Shabby treatment of a black man at that time in our history is, regrettably, not surprising. That Chass used a third-hand telling of that story to conclude that Stan Musial “discriminated against blacks” — and that he did so while failing to contact either Stan Musial or anyone who could tell Curt Flood’s side of it, such as Curt Flood, Jr., for example — is reprehensible.

Thank you, Curt Flood, Jr., for telling us more in a simple email than Murray Chass — an alleged journalist — did with his “reporting.”

  1. chicagofan - Mar 25, 2011 at 7:15 AM

    Your attempt to downplay this story is typical of some white people’s attempt to rewrite the past and reflected in your comment “Shabby treatment of a black man at that time in our history is, regrettably, not surprising. “. Curt is being very diplomatic and charitable. I’m sure his parents were humiliated by that night and never forgot it. To accept racist behavior as simply “shabby treatment” ignores the fact that it is also illegal and has devastating ,lasting affects on people like Flood’s parents. Musial obviously tolerated that discrimanatory behavior in his restaurant and is also responsible and worthy of being called out as a less than honorable human being. Your attempt to cover ffor him does not reflect well on your character.

    • Craig Calcaterra - Mar 25, 2011 at 7:27 AM

      Sorry, but if Curt Flood’s son says that Stan Musial is ” a good, decent and honorable man,” your claim that he tolerated discriminatory behavior is going to need some support from something other than the Flood/restaurant anecdote.

      Unless of course you’re hellbent on turning everyone that had an attenuated relationship to a racist incident into some crypto-racist, in which case there’s probably no engaging you on the subject.

      • mattraw - Mar 25, 2011 at 12:22 PM

        As a wise man once wrote:

        “when someone throws out racism as a potential explanation for something, it’s almost 100% certain that we’ll quickly end up talking about something other than the actual incident in question.”

        Nice trolling, chicagofan.

    • paperlions - Mar 25, 2011 at 7:31 AM

      Your attempt to paint everyone with the same brush while ignoring the apparent facts does not reflect well of your character.

    • dan1111 - Mar 25, 2011 at 8:19 AM

      I don’t think anyone is trying to downplay the seriousness of racism. It is precisely because this charge is taken so seriously that Chass’s article has provoked such a response. But the seriousness of the charge also means that is should not be made lightly. Chass insinuated that Musial was a racist and called him “no man of honor” based on very flimsy and ambiguous evidence. That demands a response.

      We are presented with one incident of discrimination at a restaurant. This is certainly a serious incident, but there is no evidence that this was the restaurant’s policy, that Musial was the source of such a policy, or that Musial tolerated or even knew about such behavior. In the absence of such evidence, it is wrong to label him a racist.

      Throwing the charge of racism around indiscriminately, as it frequently is today, does nothing to further the cause of racial equality. Instead, it cheapens the term, muddies the issue, and turns people against each other with false accusations.

    • trevorb06 - Mar 25, 2011 at 9:46 AM

      What is Craig suppose to do? Had he not given any words you’d be fuming that he doesn’t care. Whether Craig said something about how bad this issue is or not you’d still have a bone to pick. Where is the fairness in that?! Just about EVERYBODY in America know just how sick and disgusting racism is. We’ve learned from the mistakes of those who came before us. But you know what? You can’t come in here and acuse somebody of downplaying something when you have no idea their feelings on the subject. If Curt Flood Jr. took the time out of his day to try to clear Stan Musial’s name I’d say that carries A LOT more water than anything Chass can dabble onto a computer.

  2. Jonny 5 - Mar 25, 2011 at 8:30 AM

    That’s the thing with Jim Crow “Laws”. They are laws, enforcable ones. And even up north here they applied it. My father recalls the separation of of the races in some places. Bathrooms, restaurants, neighborhoods, etc. I don’t know if any lawful repercussion would befall Musials establishment when this took place, but it’s possibly the case that that would happen. His manager may have been upholding the law at the time, or just simply trying to not scare away his racist patrons. Who knows? I do see Musial being praised by the supposed victim here which tells me he can’t be too bad of a guy regardless of the incident that happened to this man’s parents.

    Man, am I glad to see us evolve past that ignorance.

    • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Mar 25, 2011 at 9:27 AM

      It’s sad but we get so much crap in the US for being last, of the first world countries, to outlaw slavery. But I think we handle race relations far better than most. Check out some of the stories of African soccer players in Europe sometime. They deal with having bananas thrown at them, taunts of being monkeys, etc. Read this NYTimes piece about US player Oguchi Onyewu suing over discrimination. It has a bunch of links to present day racist stuff from fans, players and even ownership.

      http://goal.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/06/03/onyewu-goes-to-court-to-stop-racist-abuse/

  3. heyblueyoustink - Mar 25, 2011 at 8:46 AM

    Jonny makes a good point with the Jim Crow laws…….even more to the point, bigoted behavior was so ingrained in society at the time, sadly and gorifically so, that Musial may very well of had a bigoted staff serving bigoted customers…..and while Stan from all accounts may not have a racist bone in his body, there’s no guarantee his employees were the same way, as Stan himself, given, you know, he was kind of a busy guy and all, might not have been a part of the hiring process at that point.

    Which would not fly as an excuse today by any means, we’ve come a long way, but to call out Musial in this fashion without considering the era…..well, that just makes Mr. Chass a tabloid style butt monkey

    • Joe - Mar 26, 2011 at 12:09 PM

      Using the term “butt monkey”, with its homophobic implications, is unfortunate in a situation where we’re discussing bias and bigotry.

  4. largebill - Mar 25, 2011 at 9:27 AM

    I won’t re-hash the whole thread of comments from BTF, but suffice it to say there is a whole lot more to this nonsense story than you can get in a couple paragraphs. Flood is not the victim here. He may have been 46 years ago. However, based on differing accounts of that evening I’m not sure he was even a victim on racism back then. The contemporary victims are Musial and Miller. Basically, what we have is a hack “journalist” citing a conversation with a bitter 95 year old guy, (Miller) who based on recent interviews is not always coherent, and accepting as fact his third hand recollection of an incident. This same guy, Chass, just a few months ago published accusations regarding Hall of Fame veterans committee voting from this same 95 year old which he had to retract when it turned out to be completely false. At that time Chass, believe it or not, claimed that he learned his lesson and he would verify his stories 100% in the future.

    Musial, the other victim, is likely too classy to respond to this nonsense. Years ago he explained that Flood came to the restaurant after the kitchen was closed (12:30) and he personally told him they were closed. Flood told a few versions of the event first being that Musial wasn’t there and when he saw Musial the next day and complained he was livid and said he’d deal with it. There are dozens of episodes where Negro league players cited Musial as treating them well during barnstorming tours and many anecdotes about him helping black players after integration. To paraphrase a country song
    “Musial was post racial before post racial was cool.” So, I’m inclined to believe Musial’s version. I was not there and can not with 100% certainty say what happened. Could it have happened exactly as Chass claims? I suppose, but highly doubt it. Could it have been two separate incidents? Possibly. Could Flood have taken an innocent event (kitchen closed) and turned it into a racial event based on past slights. Possibly. Flood grew up in an age were mistreatment was sadly fairly common. Some people, based on that treatment, built up some understandable anger and viewed everything through the lens of race. While Flood is remembered mostly for refusing a trade which lead to free agency, he is also remembered as a guy who carried around a lot of anger and as a guy who changed stories as time went on. His changes were not like Satchel Paige giving different answer in each town so reporters would have fresh material or like my lies about the size of fish caught. No, Flood’s changes tended to paint himself in a sympathetic light. I’ll stick with the facts and remember him as a pretty good hitter and great centerfielder.

    Bottom line: Chass is a jerk and a disgrace to his profession as he has demonstrated many times over the last few years.

  5. BC - Mar 25, 2011 at 10:12 AM

    .ssahC yarruM sruoy pU
    Link to Murray Chass —-> http://www.bluechipfoods.com/chipwch.jpg

    • Joe - Mar 25, 2011 at 11:32 AM

      Wait. THAT’s a Chipwich? That actually looks pretty good.

  6. spudchukar - Mar 25, 2011 at 11:35 AM

    The most disturbing thing about Chass’s comments, (I refuse to call this Journalism), is the timing. This story is approximately 45 years old, and it is NOT breaking news. Anyone who was a baseball fan and alive in St. Louis at the time knows of this encounter. There are numerous versions, none of which are acceptable. My Dad, who always had the inside scoop, but carried a few prejudices himself, intoned that the hour was far past closing, that Flood was not the most diplomatic, and that Musial was not present, but may have returned before Flood left. The reason my father could garner inside info was due to his employment. He was a glove designer for Rawlings, but more importantly he repaired all the major league players’ gloves. Therefore, he was always in the clubhouse, and as a kid often I was too.

    Unlike most African-Americans ballplayers at the time, Flood did not “know his place”, as the unfortunate saying goes. He was not one of my Dad’s favorites, “uppity” was the moniker that was often hung on him, and yes it was sometimes followed with the “N” word, but not in my household. He was always kind to me, and even as a youngster my father’s opinions could embarrass me, but Dad was a gregarious sort so he rarely allowed his feelings to be known, and got along well with Flood.

    As stated, Flood was unique. He refused to accept a trade to the Phillies. After playing on the Cards’ championship teams in the 60’s who could blame him. And later as most fans know he was the primary litigant in the challenge to the Reserve Clause.
    He was also an accomplished painter, and his work sold handsomely, not the ordinary post-baseball career occupation.

    He was also a great teammate, a phenomenal centerfielder, who won 7 consecutive Golden Gloves, sacrificed both literally and figuratively, by hitting behind lead-off man Lou Brock. Known around the league as bright, fearless, and an integral cog in the Cards’ championships.

    The aforementioned incident, was unfortunate, and did not reflect kindly on Stan or Biggie, or the Restaurant or the Cardinals or St. Louis. But as has been repeated by many here there is no evidence that this was either the policy of the restaurant, nor any indication of Musial’s attitude toward those of a different color. He is, and has always been a kind, generous, beautiful man. Beloved by and recognized, not just by the St. Louis fandom, but by the entire Baseball Universe as one of its most glorious ambassadors. Murry Chaas, despite his starvation for attention, cannot and will not change that.

  7. seeingwhatsticks - Mar 25, 2011 at 2:17 PM

    Craig can you please go b ack to referring to Murray Chass as “the blogger Murray Chass?” Thanks buddy.

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