Elmer Flick Essentials
Bats: L Throws: R
Born: Year: 1876 in Bedford, OH USA
Died: 1 9 1971 in Bedford, OH USA
Last Game: 7/4/1910
Hall of Fame: Inducted as a Player in 1963 by Veterans
Full Name: Elmer Harrison Flick
Among the great “what-ifs” of baseball history, in the spring of 1907 Detroit manager Hughie Jennings offered to trade a 20-year-old Ty Cobb—a .293 hitter over parts of two seasons—to Cleveland for outfielder Elmer Flick, who was coming off a four-year run that saw him win a batting crown, capture two stolen base titles, and lead MLB in triples. Not surprisingly, Cleveland turned down the offer, a decision they’d soon come to regret. Cobb would go on to win his first of nine straight batting titles in 1907; conversely, Flick enjoyed his last full season (.302 w/ 18 triples and 41 SBs) before a physical/nervous breakdown abruptly ended his 13-year career at age 34. Following Cobb’s death, stories of the man whom Cleveland refused to trade for “The Georgia Peach” circulated; this, along with Flick’s impressive stats, led to the 87-year-old’s 1963 election to Cooperstown.
An Ohio native, Flick began his career with the Inter-State League’s Youngstown entry in 1896, hitting .438 with nine triples. The 21-year-old dominated the following year, as he hit .386 with 42 doubles, 20 triples, 10 HRs, and 25 SBs. The fact that a 5-foot-9-inch, 165-pounder stole a few bases was one thing, but his penchant for long drives was novel. This power-speed skillset carried over as he joined the Phillies in 1899; the rookie slashed .302/.430/.438 with 13 triples, eight HRs, 81 RBI, 86 walks, and 23 SBs. Though he was unpolished defensively, the rifle-armed right fielder threw out 21 baserunners, his first of seven years with 20+ assists. There was no sophomore slump: Flick hit .342 with 98 RBI in 1899.
The 1900 season would be Flick’s greatest: he hit .367/.441/.565 with 16 triples, 35 SBs, and an NL-best 110 RBI—his 11 HRs and .565 SLG% each ranked second among AL batsmen. Following a 1901 season in which he hit .333, Flick jumped to the AL, eventually coming home to Cleveland. As an Indian, Flick never hit for such lofty averages again, though he remained a .300 hitter who routinely amassed 15+ triples and 30+ SBs a year. In 1905, he led the AL in triples (18), AVG (.308), and SLG% (.462). In 1907, Flick paced the AL in triples for a third straight year, leading The Spokane Press to call him “one of the hardest hitters the game has ever produced.” Having long suffered stomach ailments attributed to nerves, Flick retired in 1910. All told, he hit with a .313/.389/.445 while averaging 17 triples and 36 SBs per year.