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Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Ira Flagstead:The Boston Red Sox's Unknown Hall-of-Famer

Earlier this week it was announced that the Boston Red Sox had selected four new members for their Hall of Fame. Fans should have little trouble recognizing the first three inductees, former players Jason Varitek and Tim Wakefield, and former front office man Larry Lucchino. However, the fourth honoree, former outfielder Ira Flagstead, will likely leave many scratching their heads. Despite his anonymity, he is worthy of the honor and is someone whose career all Boston fans should become more familiar with.

Here is what you need to know about the newest and most unknown of the Boston Hall of Famers:

-Born Ira James Flagstead, he went by the nickname “Pete.”

-The right-handed outfielder made his major league debut with the Detroit Tigers in 1917. He spent parts of six solid yet unspectacular years with them before being traded to the Red Sox in April, 1923 in exchange for minor leaguer Ed Goebel and cash.

-Playing with Boston until midway through the 1929 season, he accumulated a .295 batting average, 27 home runs, 299 RBIs and 51 stolen bases in 789 games.

-He had a great batting eye, walking twice as often as he struck out (335 walks to 168 strikeouts) as a member of the Red Sox.

-A tremendous defensive center fielder, he led the league twice (1925 and 1927) in assists and finished with 95 in his career from that position, which is still good for 41st all time. Additionally, his career range factor of 2.80 as a center fielder is 23rd all time.

- He tied a major league record on April 19, 1926 (Patriots Day) by starting three double plays from the outfield. Two of these plays came from throwing runners out after making the catch. The third was a 8-5-4-2 twin killing he started.

-Despite never putting up monster numbers, Flagstead finished in the top 25 in American League MVP voting every year between 1924-28, finishing as high as seventh place in 1925.

-Flagstead played for some putrid Red Sox teams. In fact, only once did Boston finish higher than eighth (last place) in the American League during his tenure. That came in 1925, when they finished seventh, a half game in front of the last place Chicago White Sox.

-He was so popular with Red Sox fans that he was given his own day in 1928 and showered with gifts, including $1,000 and a new car.

-The Red Sox Hall of Fame is actually the third time he has been honored in such a way. He was previously inducted in the Washington Sports and the Muskegon Area Sports Hall of Fames.

-He was drafted into the military during World War I and was about to be sent overseas when peace came and allowed him to resume his civilian status.

- Flagstead died in his sleep on March 13, 1940 at the young age of 46—10 years after he finished his major league career.

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