- Series: 1880s: Loving Paupers
- City: St. Joseph
- Team: Clay Eaters
- League: Western Association
Thomas J. Flood (1867-?) never made it to the major leagues, but his Old Judge card series in 1889 placed this young Missouri ballplayer among an elite of his day. He was captured by the photographer in his St. Joseph Clay Eaters uniform cutting a dashing figure as a right-handed pitcher. Indeed, The Sporting News noted that Thomas had been the Houston Babies’ star hurler the prior year, going 11-15 for a struggling franchise. He was again the stalwart of that team in ‘88 when he compiled a miserable record of 2-10, but started the majority of games, completing the entire dozen. Only one of that squad’s pitchers ever had big league experience. That was veteran Doc Landis who was in the final year of his career that had begun with American Association teams in 1882. The Texas Southern League in those days consisted of a mere six clubs, including the San Antonio Missionaries and Dallas Hams. Flood had started out with amateur outfits in his native St. Louis, such as the Prickly Ash and Grand Avenue clubs. The Sporting News mentioned his first professional job was with Springfield, MO in 1887 where he was said to have won every start for the Indians of the Southwestern League. Unfortunately, Flood’s auspicious beginning ended abruptly with the demise of the Springfield franchise. He was picked up by Ft. Smith to finish the season. With the Clay Eaters, Thomas found himself among a staff with better talent. Five of his fellow pitchers would see big league service. He went 9-16 in ‘89, the third-best record on the team.
- Despite missing out on MLB glory, Flood was celebrated by The Sporting News as “the finest pitcher in the Southwestern League.” Not a bad clipping to show the family