Inside Pitch

Jan. 27, 1963: Veterans Committee Elects Four

By Samantha Carr
January 25, 2010

COOPERSTOWN, N.Y. – Throughout much of the 1950s and 1950s, the Baseball Writers' Association of America only held elections in even-numbered years to consider recently retired players for Hall of Fame election.

That policy stayed in effect until 1967, but that didn't stop the Veterans Committee from electing players -- including an impressive foursome from baseball's formative years that was elected 47 years ago this week.

Elmer Flick (left center), Sam Rice (right center) and the families of John Clarkson (left) and Eppa Rixley (right) accepted their plaques during the 1963 Hall of Fame Weekend.

Pitchers John Clarkson and Eppa Rixey and right fielders Elmer Flick and Sam Rice were elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame on Jan. 27, 1963. Only nine times since the founding of the Hall of Fame in 1939 has no BBWAA election been held – and despite 1963 being one of those years, the Veterans Committee was still meeting to vote on managers, umpires, executives and early major league players.

Flick, who was 87 in 1963, remains the oldest living inductee at the time of his induction. The lifetime .313 hitter played for the Philadelphia Phillies, Philadelphia Athletics, Cleveland Bronchos and Cleveland Naps from 1898 to 1910. Flick won a batting title in 1905 and led the league in RBI in 1900 with 110 and runs in 1906 with 98.

Fellow right fielder Sam Rice played 20 seasons for the Washington Senators and Cleveland Indians. He retired in 1934 at age 44. He finished his career with 2,987 hits – the most hits of anyone who did not reach the 3,000-hit plateau – and led the league in hits twice, recording over 200 in six seasons. He hit over .300 in thirteen full seasons and stole a league-leading 63 bases in 1920. Rice won a World Series with the Senators in 1924, contributing six hits in the series.

Clarkson, who retired atop the National League’s career wins list, won 328 games for the Worchester Ruby Legs, Chicago White Stockings, Boston Beaneaters and Cleveland Spiders in 12 seasons between 1882 and 1894. He had a career 2.81 ERA and led the league in innings pitched four times, including twice when he threw 620-plus innings. He also led the league in strikeouts three times. He won the equivalent of the Triple Crown in 1889 – leading the league in wins, strikeouts and ERA – and won 30-plus games in six seasons.

Rixey pitched in 21 seasons for the Phillies and Reds from 1912 to 1933. He won 266 games with a 3.15 ERA. A four-time 20-game winner, Rixey pitched for weak teams which finished in the bottom half of the league 12 of his 21 seasons. In 1922, he led the National League in wins with 25 and innings pitched with 313. When he retired, he held the league record for wins by a left-handed pitcher.

During the 1963 Induction Ceremony, a new tradition was also started. The first ever J.G. Taylor Spink Award was presented for excellence in baseball writing. The recipient of the first award was J.G. Taylor Spink, who had passed away the previous December. Spink was a driving force of The Sporting News, known during his lifetime as the “Baseball Bible.”

Although Spink’s award is listed as from 1962, it was actually presented at the following year’s ceremony – a practice that remained in effect for the Spink award until 2007.

Samantha Carr is the media relations coordinator at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum

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