Elmer Flick

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Elmer Harrison Flick

Inducted into Hall of Fame in 1963

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Biographical Information[edit]

"I could hit anybody. They called me 'Elmer Flick, the Demon of the Stick.' " - Elmer Flick.

Elmer Flick is one of the least-remembered Hall of Famers. He played 13 seasons in the major leagues, a relatively brief career by Hall of Fame standards, with a lifetime .313 batting average. He was often among the league leaders in offensive categories, getting a 179 on the Gray Ink scale, which is # 55 on the all-time list, two points below Eddie Murray, and a few points ahead of Jim Rice and Reggie Jackson. His career was cut shore by a chronic stomach ailment that sapped his strength and made it impossible for him to keep on weight. Nevertheless, he lived past the age of 90 and was one of the last four men who had played in the 19th century to be still alive at the time of his passing in 1971.

The similarity scores method does not do a good job of finding comparisons to Flick. Flick had a career Adjusted OPS+ of 149, which is # 39 on the all-time list. However, the method finds players as most similar to Flick whose OPS+ is much lower. The closest on the list is Mike Tiernan, the 19th Century star whose OPS+ is 138. Among players who have similar Adjusted OPS+ scores to Flick, Ralph Kiner is a player who had a 149 Adjusted OPS+, while Harry Heilmann and Willie McCovey had 148.

He got only 1 vote in BBWAA voting for the Hall of Fame, in 1938. He was eventually elected by the Veterans Committee in 1963. Branch Rickey, who was president of the committee at the time and who had played against him, was instrumental in getting him elected. He was still alive at the time and greatly appreciated the honor, thinking he had been completely forgotten.

He started his career replacing the injured Sam Thompson, and at the peak of his career was almost traded even up for a young Ty Cobb. While his batting average was his most notable feature, Flick also led his league in stolen bases twice, and in triples three times. He was in the top 10 in walks seven times.

He spent almost all of his career as a teammate of Nap Lajoie, first with the Philadelphia Phillies and later when he played with the Cleveland Naps, which Lajoie also managed for several years. He was also a teammate of Ed Delahanty for a few years at the start of his career. In 1900, Flick hit .367 while Lajoie hit .337 and Delahanty hit .323. Flick was 2nd in the league to Honus Wagner, who hit .381. Like Lajoie and a few Phillies teammates, he originally signed with the Philadelphia Athletics after the 1901 season, but the Phils obtained an injunction from the Pennsylvania Supreme Court banning these players from playing for a team other than the Phillies. Three players rejoined the Phillies as a result, but as the injunction only applied in Pennsylvania, Lajoie, Flick and Bill Bernhard were allowed by the A's to join the Cleveland Bronchos, although they were still prevented from playing any road games in Philadelphia. The injunction was eventually dropped in June of 1903.

After his major league days, he played in 1911 and 1912 with the Toledo Mud Hens. He died at the age of 94 in Bedford, OH, the same place he had been born.

He made his first baseball card appearance in the 1903 E107 Breisch Williams set.

His photo and biography were featured in the August 26, 1905 issue of Sporting Life. The text said that he drew national attention for his "brilliant work" with Dayton in 1897. It also said:

"In . . . 1902 . . . (Flick), with Lajoie and Bernhardt, joined the Cleveland Club, thus at once making that club a pennant factor and a paying business proposition. By his act Flick placed himself in contempt of court, but when the Cincinnati Peace Treaty was signed the bann (sic) in Pennsylvania against Flick, Lajoie and Bernhardt was lifted . . . From the day he joined Cleveland until the present time Flick has been a star player in all departments . . ."

On September 25, 2013, a statue of Flick was erected in the town square of his hometown of Bedford, Ohio.

Notable Achievements[edit]

  • AL Batting Average Leader (1905)
  • AL Slugging Percentage Leader (1905)
  • AL OPS Leader (1905)
  • AL At Bats Leader (1906)
  • AL Runs Scored Leader (1906)
  • 3-time AL Triples Leader (1905-1907)
  • NL RBI Leader (1900)
  • 2-time AL Stolen Bases Leader (1904 & 1906)
  • 100 RBI Seasons: 1 (1900)
  • 100 Runs Scored Seasons: 2 (1900 & 1901)
  • 200 Hits Seasons: 1 (1900)
  • Baseball Hall of Fame: Class of 1963

Further Reading[edit]

  • David L. Fleitz: "Elmer Flick", in Ghosts in the Gallery at Cooperstown: Sixteen Little-Known Members of the Hall of Fame, McFarland, Jefferson, NC, 2004, pp. 125-136. ISBN 978-0-7864-1749-0

Related Sites[edit]