Thursday, February 8, 2007

100 Greatest Red Sox >> #96: Ira Flagstead

Ira James Flagstead, OF, #? (1923-1929)

789 G, 867 H, 27 HR, 299 RBI, .295 AVG, .367 OBP, .411 SLG, 51 SB

Ira Flagstead was born on Friday, September 22, 1893. A native of Montague, Ira Flagstead played baseball with four teams in a major league career that spanned 13 seasons. A catcher since his days with the Montague Independents, Flagstead was signed by the Detroit Tigers on July 20, 1917. Flagstead was 23 years old.

The Tigers were deep in catching, so the stocky 5-foot-7, 170-pounder was moved to the outfield. Although he posted a batting average in excess of .300 in three of his four seasons with the Tigers, Flagstead never finished higher than third on the team in that category. The Tigers were rich in hard-hitting outfielders and Flagstead played in the shadow of teammates Ty Cobb, Harry Heilmann and Bobby Veach. Flagstead batted .331 in his first full season with the Tigers in 1919. In the spring of 1923 he was sold to the Boston Red Sox.

The Red Sox were a weak club offensively, but Flagstead’s bat and his hustle delighted the Boston fans. Blessed with a fine arm, he established an American League record for outfielders by participating in three double plays in a 1924 game. The 1925 season was a banner one for the veteran outfielder. The team leader in hits, doubles, walks and runs, Flagstead tied American League records for runs scored in a contest, most times walked in a game, and most times walked in an inning. At season’s end, he was named the Red Sox most valuable player.

In his seven seasons with the Red Sox he set career highs in hits (172), RBI (69), home runs (8), and walks (77). In 1,218 career games, Flagstead batted .290 with 40 home runs and 71 stolen bases.

The club honored the Montague native with “Flagstead Day” in 1928. “Boston’s outfielder” was presented with a variety of gifts, including a new car and $1,000 in gold. He ended the year with 41 doubles - a career high and the sixth highest season total in the American League that year. Released by the Red Sox in the spring of 1929, Flagstead saw limited action with the Washington Senators and Pittsburgh Pirates before the end of the 1930 season. A .290 career hitter, he closed out his baseball career with Tacoma of the Pacific Coast League. He died at the age of 46 in March of 1940.

Player Biography written by Karen.

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