Tim Flood

This article was written by Doug Walden

Timothy Andrew Flood1 was an aggressive ballplayer, a scrappy left-handed-hitting (and occasionally switch-hitting)2 second baseman from St. Louis who fought for every advantage on the field and every dollar for his pocket. His baseball career of over 20 years in duration was notable for service as a major-league and minor-league player, a minor-league manager, and a minor-league umpire. As a player his confrontational nature frequently got him into trouble with umpires, resulting in his ban by both the Pacific Coast League in 1905 (this ban was eventually rescinded) and the Eastern League in 1907 (this ban was not rescinded). He moved from club to club, in and out of the major leagues, looking for top dollar for his talents, and as a result he played with no single team for more than two consecutive seasons.

Timothy Andrew Flood was born on March 13, 1875,3 in Montgomery County, Missouri (about halfway between Columbia and St. Louis), the son of Bernard “Barney” Flood (1843-1922) and Mary Jane Connors Flood (died in 1910). Tim’s grandfather Andrew Flood (born in 1795) brought the Flood family to the United States from Ireland in 1847,4 settling in central Missouri, when Tim’s father, Barney, was about 7 years old.

Tim Flood was born about 28 years after the family settled in the US and spent his earliest years growing up in Montgomery County.5 His father worked as a carpenter and relocated his family to St. Louis from Montgomery County before the turn of the 20th century. Tim had three brothers – John Edgar, Eugene, and W. Henry Flood, and one sister, likely named Mary Elizabeth.6 Two of the brothers, John and Eugene, survived to adulthood.7 One of the brothers, Eugene, played minor-league baseball for a time and was an umpire and a clubhouse manager at League Park in St. Louis.8

Tim learned the game of baseball on the ballfields surrounding Fairgrounds Park in north St. Louis.9 He began his baseball career in 1892, at the age of 17, playing semipro ball with the Daly Brothers team of the City League of St. Louis. He was the team captain, and the team won the pennant in each of the two years Flood was with it. In 1894 and 1895 he played right field for a team in the St. Louis east-side suburb of Belleville, Illinois, and in 1896, at 21, Flood moved on to play in the outfield for two years with the Cedar Rapids Rabbits of the Western Association. In 1897 he hit .307 with 11 home runs in 119 games for Cedar Rapids, one of his best offensive seasons in baseball.

Fort Wayne of the Interstate League signed Flood in 1898 to play center field. Second base became his position in 1899 with Fort Wayne and would remain his primary position for the remainder of his professional career.

In 1899 Flood was drafted by the St. Louis team of the National League (known for this one year as the Perfectos). Toward the tail end of the 1899 season, he was brought in to replace regular second baseman Cupid Childs who, at the age of 32, was in the waning years of an excellent major-league career. Childs, hitting only .265 in 1899, had not been able to duplicate his feat of batting over .300 in five previous seasons, and Perfectos manager Patsy Tebeau was looking for new blood at second base. The 24-year-old Flood made his major-league debut on September 24, 1899, and played in 10 of the final 16 games of the Perfectos’ season. He impressed Tebeau by hitting .290 and demonstrating excellent fielding range at second base. Flood also possessed a fighting spirit, a trait much valued by the Perfectos manager. The highlight of his short stay with the Perfectos in 1899 was a 10th-inning walk-off single that beat the Cincinnati Reds in the first game of a doubleheader on October 8. Flood would later claim that he was not able to demonstrate his true value as a National League second baseman because of a split hand suffered while at Fort Wayne and aggravated in St. Louis that affected his batting and fielding.10

Tebeau initially expressed a strong desire to have Flood remain with the St. Louis club and play second base in 1900. However, Flood was not happy with the contract the team offered him.11 Tebeau later claimed that Flood had been perfectly satisfied with his St. Louis offer – that “the terms were big enough to fit any young player.”12 However, as the 1900 season approached and Flood continued to balk at signing with St. Louis, Tebeau grew to favor veteran Joe Quinn as his likely second baseman and did not pursue Flood further.13 Flood elected to sign for better pay with the minor-league Buffalo Bisons of the American League (the year before it declared itself a second major league).14

Flood started the 1900 season with Buffalo, but played in only 12 games before he was suspended in May 1900 pending a hearing of the National Board regarding a claim filed by Fort Wayne.15 The Indians argued that Flood still belonged to them, not Buffalo, if he chose to not play in the National League with St. Louis. Fort Wayne was awarded Flood’s contract,16 but he never played another game with them. His contract was purchased by the Cleveland Lake Shores of the American League for what was called a “fancy figure.”17 Flood played in 105 games in 1900 hitting .250.

The 1901 season found Flood moving on once again, playing second base for the St. Joseph Saints of the Western League.18 Flood struck up a friendship that year with St. Joseph first baseman Ira “Slats” Davis. Flood was to meet up again with Davis in 1905 under very different circumstances.

In 1902 Flood returned to the major leagues. The Brooklyn Superbas acquired his contract and placed him in the lineup at second base to replace Tom Daly, who had jumped to the Chicago White Sox of the new and competing American League.19 Flood was a crowd favorite and displayed great range at second base, far better than Daly, most notable for his ability to cover territory to his left.20 It was assumed that his hitting would soon follow given his constant exposure to the great hitter Willie Keeler, the Superbas’ outfielder and captain.21 But Flood completed 1902 hitting only .218 in 132 games.

Despite his weak offensive performance in 1902, Flood was named captain of the Superbas for the 1903 season when Keeler left for the American League’s New York Highlanders.22 Although Flood continued to amaze with his fielding range, he was never able to hit with consistency, far below the .315 average Daly had posted in his final year with the Superbas in 1901. Flood was often criticized for his looping swing and poor offensive performance. A knee injury in September limited his playing time.23 After he hit only .249 in 89 games in 1903, manager Ned Hanlon became disenchanted with Flood’s progress at the plate and felt it necessary for the Superbas to go in a different direction at second base. Flood was released after the season and never again played major-league baseball.

In 1904 Flood had one of his better offensive seasons, hitting .270 for the Los Angeles Angels of the Pacific Coast League. He was named captain early in the season.24 Flood returned to Los Angeles as captain in 1905. Late in the season Flood was suspended indefinitely by Pacific Coast League President Eugene F. Bert for assaulting umpire Slats Davis after an argument.25 Apparently the friendship kindled on the St. Joseph team did not take priority over Flood’s confrontational and competitive spirit. Flood attempted to modify the suspension by pleading his case before a meeting of the National Board of the Minor Leagues in Chicago in January 1906.26 He was unsuccessful. However, the Portland Beavers of the PCL intervened and Flood was reinstated, after which Los Angeles transferred his contract to Portland.27

But Flood refused to sign with Portland for the 1906 season. The club’s contract offer was far below the money Flood had been earning with Los Angeles. Portland implied that Flood should be indebted to the team for getting him back into baseball. Flood initially wired manager Judge McCredie of Portland that he was ready to join the Portland club. A short time later, however, a second wire from Flood indicated that “there is nothing doing.”28 Flood joined the Altoona Mountaineers of the independent or “outlaw” Tri-State League. Altoona was paying major league salaries, and Flood could not pass that up. It was a risky venture to join an outlaw league. Altoona’s economy was highly dependent on mining and if that dried up, it was unlikely that Altoona would have enough patrons to support a team. If the team or the league went under, it might be difficult to obtain another spot in Organized Baseball.29 Flood hit .252 with 4 home runs in 107 games as the principal second baseman in his single season with Altoona. The Altoona team continued in 1907 as part of the Class B Tri-State League, but Flood was eager to move on once again.

The Toronto Maple Leafs of the Class A Eastern League acquired Flood in 1907. Flood may have made his biggest mark in baseball circles not for an outstanding accomplishment on the diamond but for an event that occurred during an Eastern League game in Toronto on June 26. Flood assaulted umpire John Conway.30 This was not too unusual for the times, and Flood had been tossed from games many times for harassing umpires. One description of the event said that Flood repeatedly kicked the umpire in the chest, knocking him to the ground. Flood was arrested for assault and brought before the local magistrate. He was counseled to plead guilty and accept a small fine. Penalties to players for assault during athletic events were rarely carried further. But umpire Conway appeared in court and testified against Flood. Flood had once before had an ugly encounter with Conway, and Conway sought revenge. The Toronto magistrate decided to make an example of Flood and on June 28 ordered him to the city jail for 15 days.31 On July 4, the seventh day of his confinement, Flood was released by order of the Minister of Justice.32

Eastern League President Patrick Powers added to Flood’s penalty by expelling him from the Eastern League, stating, “Flood is not fit to play in organized ball.”33 But Flood was a fan favorite in Toronto, and upon his release from the city jail, 300 Toronto fans petitioned to have him reinstated. The petition threatened that if Flood was not reinstated none of the petitioners would attend a Toronto game again that season.34 Powers did not back down and Flood did not play again for Toronto or for any team in the Eastern League. He played in 29 games and hit .267 for Toronto in 1907 prior to the suspension.

But once again Flood was not out of baseball very long. He was purchased by the St. Paul Saints of the American Association, and completed the 1907 season playing second base for St. Paul. He batted .318 with 4 home runs in 70 games. He made a positive impression on the fans and on team president George Lennon, who appointed Flood captain and player-manager for the 1908 season.35 The 1908 season, however, was not a success for Flood on several fronts. His performance on the field fell off from the levels of 1907. Flood played in 108 games and hit .259. His team’s performance was miserable; the Saints won only 56 of 148 games. To make a bad situation even worse, Flood was injured during a game on August 21. Toledo third baseman Joe McCarthy (the same Joe McCarthy who became a Hall of Fame manager), while attempting to make a play in the field, collided with Flood, coaching at third base. Flood suffered fractures of a nasal bone, the cheek, and the jawbone.36 Flood did not return to St. Paul after the injuries. Mike Kelley completed the year as St. Paul manager, and Flood was released to the Little Rock Travelers of the Class A Southern Association.37

Flood played for Little Rock in 1909, the Nashville Volunteers in 1910,38 the Cairo Egyptians of the Class D Kentucky-Illinois-Tennessee League in 1911, and the Winnipeg Maroons of the Class C Northern League in 1913. He continued to struggle at the plate, peaking with a .266 average in 38 games with Winnipeg. He spent partial seasons as manager for both Cairo and Winnipeg, and began the1911 season managing the Oklahoma City team in the Texas League.39

Ironically the often aggressive, argumentative, and temperamental Flood ended his service to baseball as an umpire. After his days as a player and manager ended, he umpired in the Northern League, the Western Association, and the Western League before retiring from baseball in 1920.40 Flood spent more than 20 years in baseball as player, manager, and umpire.

During the offseasons Flood operated a saloon in Little Rock41 and worked as a bartender in St. Paul. In his years after baseball Flood worked as a machinist42 and box maker43 with the Armour Packing Co. in Kansas City.

Flood was married twice. His first wife was Jessie Marie Johnson, born in 1881 in Denver. They were married shortly after 1900. Jessie died in 1905 in Los Angeles at the age of 23. The cause of death is not certified; however one source listed it as “during an abortion.”44 They had one known child, James Bernard Flood, named after his grandfathers, born on January 23, 1903.45 After Jessie died, Flood did not have much involvement in the raising of the child. In 1920 16-year-old James was living in Denver with his maternal grandparents.46 By 1930 James had adopted the last name of Johnson and was married. He and his wife, Helen, had three daughters. James died on June 2, 1993, in Denver.47

Tim Flood married his second wife, Maryane, between 1910 and 1918. They had no known children.

Flood collapsed and died on June 15, 1929, from a ruptured thoracic aortic aneurysm48 while in St. Louis, where his wife was visiting family. He was 54 years old. He was buried in Calvary Cemetery in north St. Louis next to the graves of his father, Bernard, and mother, Mary.49

Timothy Andrew Flood was a ballplayer typical of his times. He moved from team to team looking for the best remuneration for his services. He might well be characterized as one of the chief perpetrators of “rowdyism, a bullying, intimidating style of ball,” which had become common in the National League and which the newly formed American League of 1901 hoped to eliminate from baseball.50 He fought hard for his team and desperately desired to win. He freely shared his disagreements with umpires, resulting in multiple expulsions (too numerous to count), some violence, two indefinite suspensions, and ultimately one term in jail. His long career as a player, manager, and umpire, including many years of minor league play and umpiring long after his best years were behind him, suggest that he was consumed by baseball.

 

Sources

Baseball-reference.com was utilized for all major-league statistics and baseball-reference.com/minors for all minor-league statistics. I appreciate the help of the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum in Cooperstown, New York, for its file on Flood, and of the St. Louis County Library History and Genealogy section for obtaining a copy of Flood’s death certificate. Additional information was obtained from genealogies on ancestry.com. All additional sources are detailed in the Notes section below.

 

Notes

1 Some sources list his name as Thomas Timothy Flood. This may be due to the occasional misspelling of his first name as Tom Flood in some newspaper accounts.

2 baseball-reference.com lists Tim Flood as a right-handed hitter. It appears that he was actually a switch-hitter. The Brooklyn Daily Eagle, June 19, 1902, wrote that he hit right-handed the first two times up and left-handed on his third at-bat. An account in the St. Louis Republic, February 8, 1903, lists him as a left-handed hitter.

3 There is confusion about Flood’s precise date of birth. Some Internet sources and baseball-reference.com state that he was born on March 13, 1877. At the time of his death in 1929 there his birth date was listed as “unknown 1876” on the death certificate. (His wife was the informant.) Flood himself listed March 13, 1875, as his date of birth on his World War I draft registration card. The 1900 US census has his birth as March 1875 and the 1880 census lists him as age 5 when enumerated on June 9, 1880.

4 1900 US Census entry for Bernard Flood, St. Louis City, Missouri.

5 1880 US Census for Montgomery County, Missouri.

6 1900 US Census for St. Louis City, Missouri.

7 Obituary of Tim Flood, St. Louis Post Dispatch, June 17, 1929.

8 Obituary of Gene Flood, The Sporting News, March 19, 1947.

9 St. Louis Republic, February 8, 1903.

10 The Sporting News, October 14, 1899; Sporting Life, December 16, 1899.

11 Sporting Life, December 16, 1899.

12 Sporting Life, February 3, 1900.

13 Ibid.

14 Sporting Life, March 10, 1900.

15 Sporting Life, May 12, 1900.

16 Sporting Life, June 2, 1900.

17 Sporting Life, June 9, 1900.

18 St. Louis Republic, December 22, 1901.

19 Brooklyn Daily Eagle, January 7, 1902.

20 Sporting Life, March 7, 1903.

21 Sporting Life, August 9, 1902.

22 St. Louis Republic, January 16, 1903.

23 Brooklyn Daily Eagle, September 25, 1903.

24 Brooklyn Daily Eagle, May 2, 1904.

25 St. Louis Post-Dispatch, March 6, 1906.

26 St. Louis Post Dispatch, January 8, 1906.

27 St. Louis Post-Dispatch, March 6, 1906.

28 Sporting Life, April 14, 1906.

29 Ibid.

30 Brooklyn Daily Eagle, June 27, 1907.

31 Sporting Life, July 6, 1907. The article did not provide further details of Flood’s earlier encounter with Conway.

32 Sporting Life, July 13, 1907. The official was not further identified.

33 Sporting Life, July 6, 1907.

34 Sporting Life, July 13, 1907.

35 Sporting Life, March 14, 1908.

36 Brooklyn Daily Eagle, August 28, 1908; Sporting Life, January 23, 1909.

37 Montgomery (Alabama) Tribune, May 14, 1909.

38 St. Louis Post-Dispatch, March 9, 1910.

39 Brooklyn Daily Eagle, April 20, 1911.

40 Clipping from the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum file, source unknown, dated June 20, 1929.

41 St. Louis Post-Dispatch, March 9, 1910.

42 Timothy Andrew Flood death certificate.

43 1920 US Census of Kansas City, Missouri.

44 Compiled family history on ancestry.com.

45 Brooklyn Daily Eagle, February 15, 1903.

46 1920 US Census of Denver County, Colorado.

47 US Social Security Death Index.

48 Timothy Andrew Flood death certificate.

49 archstl.org/app/cemeteries/burial_search – Cemetery Search for the Archdiocese for St. Louis.

50 Mike Sowell, July 2, 1903 – The Mysterious Death of Hall-of-Famer Big Ed Delahanty (New York: Macmillan Publishing Company, 1992), 9.