By Doug Chapin
Northeast Ohio native Elmer Flick, whose professional baseball career began in 1896 in Youngstown, has been a relatively-unknown member of the Baseball Hall of Fame since 1963. A group in his hometown of Bedford is trying to change that with a campaign to erect a statue commemorating Flick.
“We just got $25,000 in donations,” Jim Wagner, who is spearheading the statute campaign, said recently. “This is a go. I was on the phone with the sculptor and he’s ready to start. We are going to be looking at dedicating the statue in mid-September.”
Flick played from 1898 through 1910 with the Philadelphia Phillies and the Cleveland American League club (not named Indians until 1915).
The campaign for the statue in Bedford is in its eighth year.
“It started in 2005. One of the schools in the Bedford school district was celebrating its 100th anniversary so they wanted me to look into things that happened during that time period,” Wagner said. “I found some things besides Elmer Flick and they told me to concentrate on the baseball player. I started looking up things about him and called the Hall of Fame and got his file from them.
“I was like a little kid going through that stuff, I was up until like 5 in the morning. There are all these old newspaper articles and stuff like that from 1900, the 1800s, very cool. And I thought here’s this guy from Bedford in the baseball Hall of Fame and nobody knows about it.”
The project then took on a life of its own apart from the school commemoration.
“I went to the mayor and he said to look into how much it would be to do a statue and here we are,” Wagner said. “The economy hurt us a lot. We were doing pretty well at first, but then it got harder to raise money.
“The Bedford Auto Mile Association bailed us out. They gave us $20,000. Most of the donations were small and we really needed something big. That really helped.”
Wagner has been working with the Cleveland Indians in an effort to have some current players and the mascot, Slider, at the dedication. It also is a possibility that a representative from the Hall of Fame could attend.
“The statue costs come out to $35,000 so that’s big that we can cover that,” Wagner said. “Now we’ll be selling paver bricks, personalized bricks that will help make up the wall. We’re going to lay it out a little bit down there on town square. It should be pretty cool.”
Anyone interested in donating or in learning more about the project can find more information at the web site www.elmerflick.com.