ST. LOUIS (AP) – The center fielder fell down, and the memories came back.

Curt Flood and Curtis Granderson will be linked forever for their World Series flops on the outfield grass in St. Louis.

Back in 1968, Flood took a tumble at old Busch Stadium in Game 7 of the World Series when Detroit’s Jim Northrup hit a seventh-inning drive to center off Bob Gibson. The ball landed for a two-run triple that broke up a scoreless game, and the Tigers went on to win 4-1.

On Thursday night at the new Busch, Detroit led 3-2 in the seventh when David Eckstein hit a leadoff drive to center that landed for a double when Granderson fell. Eckstein scored the tying run, and the Cardinals went on to win 5-4 for a 3-1 Series lead.

“This time it was on our side,” said Tigers Hall of Famer Al Kaline, who played in the 1968 game and was on hand to watch this one.

At the old Busch, currently a large pit across the street from the new ballpark, Norm Cash was on second and Willie Horton was on first when Northrup batted.

“That ball Jimmy hit wasn’t going to be caught,” said Horton, who also attended Thursday’s game. “I took right off. I knew it wasn’t going to be caught.”

Tigers manager Jim Leyland said he knew he would be asked in the postgame interview room about the Flood play.

“Right now, I’m not real interested in Curt Flood,” he said.

Granderson wasn’t aware of Flood’s play.

“I was nowhere to even be born at that time, so I’ve got no clue,” the 25-year-old said. “I try my best to watch ESPN Classic, and I haven’t seen anything about it.”

Then he was told of the details.

“History repeats itself a little bit,” Granderson said.

In a 2004 Baseball Digest story, Northrup didn’t fault Flood’s fielding. The center fielder, best known for his failed Supreme Court case against baseball’s reserve clause, was a seven-time Gold Glove winner.

“Curt Flood did slip on that ball I hit to center field, because it was wet out there. But that ball went 20 or 30 feet over his head,” Northrup said. “He wasn’t going to catch it, no matter what.”

Kaline didn’t blame Granderson.

“It was sort of similar,” Kaline said. “It wasn’t anybody’s fault.”

Tim McCarver, the Cardinals’ catcher that day, was at the ballpark on Thursday night as a broadcaster for the Fox network, which immediately showed a replay from that famous game.

“He got stuck in the mud, and he couldn’t make the play that he normally would make,” McCarver said.

Horton hadn’t thought about that play for a long time. He prefers to remember the fifth inning of Game 5, when the Tigers were behind 3-2. Lou Brock was on second when Julian Javier singled to left, and Horton made a key play that helped spark a 5-3 victory for the Tigers.

“All I think about is me throwing out Brock at the plate and Mickey Lolich winning three games,” Horton said.

Back in ’68, the Cardinals also led the Series 3-1.

“We know the history,” St. Louis manager Tony La Russa said. “I think the final payback would be if we get that fourth win.”

AP-ES-10-27-06 0352EDT


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