Teams: Philadelphia Phillies, 1898-1901; Philadelphia Athletics, 1901; Cleveland Blues (Naps), 1901-1910
During spring training in 1907, Cleveland owner Charles Somers was talking to sportswriters in his hotel room in Macon, Georgia, one evening when the phone rang. Excusing himself to answer it, Somers found Hughie Jennings, the new Detroit manager, on the other end of the line. "We'll give you Ty Cobb for Elmer Flick," Jennings said, "even up."
Elmer Flick regularly batted over .300, finishing his career with a .313 average.
Would Cobb, though just age 20, be able to play long enough at his feverish pitch to prove more valuable than Flick who, at age 31, was seemingly in his prime? Somers believed not. "I think we'll just keep Flick," he told Jennings. Had Somers guessed right, Cleveland, and not Detroit, might have reeled off three straight pennants beginning in 1907.
Born in Bedford, Ohio, Elmer Harrison Flick (1876-1971) started his career with the Phillies in 1898. He seemed slated to sit on the bench for most of the season, but when a bad back idled Sam Thompson, the Phils were forced to throw the rookie Flick into the fray.
Elmer hit .302 as a frosh, followed it up by stroking .342 in 1899, and then began the new century by slapping .367 and topping the NL in RBI. When another good year in 1901 failed to get him the raise he felt he merited, Flick signed for the 1902 season with Connie Mack's Philadelphia Athletics.
The Phillies, still rocked by the loss of stars Nap Lajoie and Ed Delahanty the previous year, pursued the matter in state court. The judicial decision enjoined Flick and other ex-Phillies from playing for any other team but the Phils while in the state of Pennsylvania. Unwilling to retain players who could play only road games, Mack sent both Lajoie and Flick to Cleveland.
Elmer produced several fine seasons in Cleveland. Three times he paced the AL in triples, once he led it in runs, and in 1905 he topped all AL hitters with a .308 average, the lowest figure to win a batting crown before 1968. Flick became disabled by a mysterious stomach ailment and other nagging injuries, and he never played regularly after the 1907 season. He remained with Cleveland through 1910.
When he was selected for the Hall of Fame in 1963, Flick was 88 years old. His induction ceremony was one of the most moving in the shrine's history.
Here are Elmer Flick's major league totals:
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