Ira Flagstead

Ira Flagstead

Ira James "Pete" Flagstead (September 22, 1893March 13, 1940) was an outfielder in Major League Baseball. He played thirteen seasons in the American and National League with the Detroit Tigers (1917-1923), Boston Red Sox (1923-1929), Washington Senators (1929), and Pittsburgh Pirates (1929-1930).

In 1218 career games, Flagstead batted .290 with a .407 on base percentage, 1202 hits, 644 runs scored, 262 doubles, 50 triples, 40 home runs, 467 walks, and 71 stolen bases.

Detroit Tigers

Born in Montague, Michigan, Flagstead started as a catcher with the Montague Independents. He was signed by the Tigers in 1917 at age 23 but had only four at bats with the team that year. He also played in 1917 with Tacoma of the Northwest League. [ [ State of Washington Sports Hall of Fame : Baseball ] at] In 1919 (his first full season in the major leagues), Flagstead played in 97 games (83 in right field) and was an immediate success, ranking among the league leaders with: a .331 batting average (5th in the AL behind teammates Ty Cobb and Bobby Veach who finished #1 and #2); a .415 on base percentage (5th in the AL); and a .481 slugging percentage (6th in the AL).

In 1920, the bottom fell out as Flagstead's batting average dropped almost 100 points from .331 to .235. Flagstead played in 110 games, including 75 in right field.

In 1921, the Tigers were loaded with outfielders, including 1921 batting champion Harry Heilmann, Ty Cobb, and Bobby Veach. Detroit's new manager Ty Cobb decided to move Flagstead from right field to the infield, playing him in 55 games at shortstop and 8 games at second base. Flagstead improved his batting average to .305, as the 1921 Tigers set American League records with 1724 hits and a .316 team batting average.

In 1922, the Tigers added shortstop Topper Rigney and outfielder Bob Fothergill, resulting in a loss of playing time for Flagstead. Despite batting .308 with a .411 on base percentage and .527 slugging percentage, Flagstead played in only 44 games and had only 91 at bats in 1922.

Boston Red Sox

With the Detroit lineup crowded with big hitting outfielder, the Tigers sold Flagstead to the Boston Red Sox on April 20, 1923. Flagstead thrived in Boston, playing in right field in 1923 and as the starting center fielder for five straight years from 1924-1928.

Flagstead proved to be an excellent center fielder, with speed, a strong arm, and a reliable glove. In 1925, his range factor of 3.15 was 0.88 points higher than the league average. He also led all American League outfielders in assists in 1923 with 31 and in 1925 with 24. In 1927, he led all American League outfielders with a .986 fielding percentage in 1927.

On April 19, 1926, Flagstead also set the American League record, and tied the major league record by starting three double plays as an outfielder in a game. Two of the double plays were fly balls that Flagstead caught and then threw out runners trying to score from third base. The third was scored 8-5-4-2. (Although records are conflicting, there is some evidence that he also accomplished the feat on August 25, 1925.) [ [ The Ballplayers - Ira Flagstead | ] at]

Though he never matched the batting numbers of his rookie season, Flagstead was a solid hitter for the Red Sox. In 1923, he hit .312 for the Red Sox, and in 1924, he hit .307 with a .401 on base percentage, collected career highs in runs (106), hits (172), and walks (77). And in 1928, he was among the league leaders with 41 doubles.

Flagstead scored five runs in a game twice in his career. He accomplished the feat on May 8, 1925, in a 15-7 victory over the Tigers, and again on August 29, 1927, in a 10-2 victory over the Indians.

Flagstead was the most reliable player on the Red Sox teams from 1924-1928, and he was voted among the Top 25 in the AL MVP voting in each of those years: #15 in 1924; #7 in 1925; #23 in 1926; #18 in 1927; and #14 in 1928.

In 1928, Boston fans held an "Ira Flagstead Day" and presented him with $1,000 in gold, a new automobile and other gifts. [ [ :: IRA FLAGSTEAD'S OBIT ] at]

Flagstead was selected as one of the "Top 100 Red Sox" of all time, placing at #97. [ [ Top 100 Red Sox: 100 Greatest Red Sox >> #96: Ira Flagstead ] at]

Later years

Flagstead was claimed off waivers by the Washington Senators in May 1929 but was released after playing in only 18 games. He was picked up by the Pittsburgh Pirates in July 1929. He played his last major league game for the Pirates on July 29, 1930.

After being released by the Pirates, Flagstead played in 1931 for the Portland Beavers and Seattle Indians in the Pacific Coast League.

After his professional career ended, Flagstead returned to his home in Olympia, Washington, where he put the local team in the Timber League championship playoffs for three consecutive years. [cite book
title=The Pacific Coast League
author=Dennis Snelling

Flagstead has been inducted into the State of Washington Sports Hall of Fame [ [ State of Washington Sports Hall of Fame : Baseball ] at] and the Muskegon Area Sports Hall of Fame. [ [ Muskegon Area Sports Hall of Fame - Class of 1991 ] at]

Flagstead died at his home in Olympia, Washington at age 46 in 1940.


ee also

* 1921 Detroit Tigers season

External links

* [ Flagstead at Muskegon Area Sports Hall of Fame]
* [ Flagstead Obituaries]
* [ Washington Sports Hall of Fame]
* cite book
title=The Pacific Coast League
author=Dennis Snelling

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