Cleveland Indians Forgotten Stars: Elmer Flick

As one looks over the MLB Hall of Fame, there are bound to be players inducted that make one wonder who they were. One of those forgotten greats is former Cleveland Indians outfielder Elmer Flick.

Imagine, if you will, the idea of a player almost being traded straight up for Ty Cobb. A player who was so confident of his abilities that he claimed he could hit anyone, and even spoke of himself in the third person on occasion. One would imagine that player would be quite well known.

That player happened to be Cleveland Indians star Elmer Flick. He was so confident in his ability with a bat that he once said I could hit anybody. They called me ‘Elmer Flick, the Demon of the Stick.’ ” He certainly backed that claim up on the diamond, finishing in the top ten in batting average seven times, while leading the American League in 1905.

Flick was also adept at getting on base, finishing in the top ten in walks seven times as well. Once on base, he was an underrated speedster, leading the league in steals twice. Flick also proved to be an excellent power hitter, as the triple was the power hit of the time. He led the league in triples three times, and finished his career with 164 three base hits, 30th all time.

After Flick produced a .311/.372/.441 batting line in 1906, the Detroit Tigers offered Cleveland the 21 year old Ty Cobb straight up for him. This trade was declined by the Indians, a move that would come back to haunt them. While Flick was still a productive player in 1907, a stomach ailment limited his time on the field afterwards. He played a total of 99 games from 1908 through 1910, eventually being released by Cleveland due to his illness.

His career was relatively short, especially for a Hall of Famer. He played in parts of 13 seasons, but produced solid numbers. Flick had a career .313/.389/.445 batting line, with 1752 hits and 164 triples.

That career was almost entirely forgotten just two decades later. When he came up on the 1938 Hall of Fame ballot, Flick received one vote. For context, Jimmy Archer, a catcher with a career .249/.288/.333 batting line and 660 career hits in 847 games over 12 years, received seven votes. Flick never returned to the ballot, and was eventually remembered by the Veteran’s Committee in 1963.

Born on this day in 1876, Flick was one of four 19th century ballplayers still alive in the 1970’s. He was known for his longevity in life, and had he remained healthy during his playing career, he may not have been forgotten for as long as he had been.

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