Every Labor Day for over twenty years running, just about everyone in and around this community who loves the game of softball gathers up at the Four Diamonds at the bottom of Lindbergh Avenue for the best softball tournament this City has to offer. Its called the Recorder Robert Flint Memorial Fast Pitch Softball Tournament. It has become a sports institution in this city and the person most responsible for making it so is the eldest son of the tournament’s namesake, the late Tom “Flick” Flint.
Born on September 14, 1961, Tom had started playing recreation softball in the late 1970’s as a catcher with the DePalma’s team and earned his nickname for the way he used to flick the ball from the top of his ear when he threw it. He later switched to pitching and joined a new team, the Mohawk’s in 1990. During the next two decades he evolved into one of this town’s best fast-pitch softball hurlers. Softball was a genetic thing for the Flint’s and there’s no doubt that Tom inherited his love for the game from his dad, a former Recorder Newspaper employee who played the game passionately for years. That’s also why when the memorial tournament began, Tom became its driving force as Director. He spent large chunks of his life making sure the event was a top-shelf softball affair every year and he certainly succeeded.
Flint didn’t just organize the event, he and his Mohawks competed in it as well and in 2010 the team won its second straight Tournament title. The following April, he discovered he had cancer of the esophagus. In an outstanding article about Flint written for the Amsterdam Recorder newspaper by Dan Kelly, Flint was shocked by the news. He told Kelly at the time that didn’t smoke, he was in great physical shape and the only symptom he had experienced was a chronic upset stomach. Then all of a sudden he finds himself sitting in front of a doctor who is telling him he’s got cancer and the chances of survival are just 15-to-20 percent. The news certainly floored him but Flint had always been a fighter. He had a seven-year-old daughter at home he adored and a beloved fiancée he planned to marry. He intended to fight the cancer as hard as he could and he knew the treatment required to do that would be difficult on him physically so he made sure others would step in and keep his beloved softball tournament going.
Tom’s first round of treatments ended that August so when Labor Day rolled around Flint was able to make it to the tournament games as a spectator. Each year, Tom and his younger brother Matt would decide who receives the event’s lifetime achievement award handed out during the closing ceremony. But Matt didn’t give Tom a vote in 2011 because so many people had come up to him and told him the award had to go to Tom. When it came time to present the plaque, Tom’s sister read the following inscription to the assembled crowd: “Tom ‘Flick’ Flint began playing in the Amsterdam Recreation Softball League 30 years ago for De Palma’s. After joining the Mohawks, Flick became a top-notch pitcher and feared hitter. He has gone on to become a respected umpire and outstanding tournament director. Tom is loved by his teammates and revered by his opponents. Simply stated, Flick is Amsterdam softball.”
Thomas “Flick” Flint passed away on October 26, 2012 at his Romeyn Avenue home after a valiant struggle with esophageal cancer. He was 51 years old. He loved life, he loved his family and he loved playing softball.
The 2019 version of the Flint Memorial Tournament was just completed over Labor Day Weekend. Many who played in the Tournament over the years have also gone to their final resting place. The following Facebook post from Tom’s brother Matt Flint does a beautiful job describing what this event has come to symbolize for Amsterdam’s softball community:
“Huge thanks to all the players, umpires, and spectators who made this Flint Softball Tournament such a success. It is humbling to know how much it means to so many people. For my family it is a way to honor our father Bob, our brother Tom, and our mother Mary. To many others, they play in honor of loved ones passed. Great people like Jack Terwilliger, Carol Hoefs, George Rivera, Paul Karutis, Chuck Parslow, Dick Hartig, Bob Cetnar, Rich Auricchio, Mike Garrison, Adam Jackson, and Pat Cushing. They are always alive in our memories and never more than this weekend where their stories are shared with family and friends. Thank you.”