1951, 1953


Ben Flowers was born on June 15, 1927 in Goldsboro, North Carolina. He attended the local schools and graduated from Charles L. Coon High School in Wilson. He was a three-letter athlete at Coon (basketball and football were the other two sports). He hurled the Wilson high baseball team to the Class-A state championship” in 1944 and was offered a scholarship to North Carolina, where he intended to study civil engineering.

After playing high school and American Legion baseball, he was signed in 1945, by the Red Sox. At age 18, after he reported, Ben pitched for the 1945 Roanoke Red Sox in the Class-B Piedmont League.

In 1946 he split his season between two teams, and then cut it short. He played for his hometown Wilson Tobs in the Class-D Coastal Plain League. In August he had enlisted in the United States Army where he served 16 months with the 82nd Airborne, and was discharged in April 1948. He was able to complete sufficient course work at Atlantic Christian College in Wilson that he qualified as a rated surveyor for the State of North Carolina Highway Department.

Flowers pitched in 1948 for Roanoke. In October his contract was sold to the Birmingham Barons, who optioned him to Scranton (Class-A Eastern League) in April 1949.

It was on to Triple-A Louisville in 1950. There he worked almost exclusively in relief with only one start  He was added to the Red Sox roster in October. After a winter of surveying on U.S. 7 in North Carolina, he trained with the Red Sox in Sarasota in the springtime. Hew returned to starting, and pitched again for Scranton with a 3.26 ERA. This earned him a September call-up to Boston.

He didn’t come back to the Red Sox until 1953. He set a major-league record at the time by appearing in eight consecutive games.  He got hit pretty hard his last two starts, and ended the season 1-4 with a 3.86 ERA.

Ben toiled in Louisville for all of the 1954 season.  That November, he was drafted by the Detroit Tigers in the Rule 5 draft. Over the winter of 1954/55, he pitched for Caracas in the Venezuelan winter league where he was named “Pitcher of the Year.

He started the 1955 campaign with Detroit, but most of his ’55 season was spent in Triple A with Buffalo. There he pitched very well indeed, with a knuckleball added to his repertoire.  

He was traded to the St. Louis Cardinals in September, and he started the ’56 season with St. Louis. He was then part of a trade with the Phillies involving five pitchers, but In October, the Kansas City Athletics purchased his contract. They did, however, return him to the Phillies in April  1957, and then he was packed off to the Brooklyn Dodgers. 

The Dodgers sold his contract to their affiliate in the Pacific Coast League, the Los Angeles Angels. He was then dealt to the New York Yankees’ Denver Bears club and pitched for Denver again in 1958, mostly as a starter. 

His last two seasons in organized baseball were with the Richmond Virginians in the Triple-A International League, also a Yankees affiliate. More than half his work in 1959 was as a reliever, and all of it was in 1960.

A serious bout with spinal meningitis afflicted him in 1960 and he required care, so his time in baseball was done. 

He managed a bowling alley and he did that successfully for several years. Then he went into sales, and he really found his niche. He handled sales for transmission supplies.

In 1987 Ben Flowers was named to the Atlantic Christian Athletic Hall of Fame and he died of pulmonary fibrosis in Wilson on February 18, 2009 in Wilson, NC. He was 81 years old.