|Second baseman / Shortstop|
April 18, 1951 |
|Batted: Right||Threw: Right|
|April 9, 1975 for the Cincinnati Reds|
|Last MLB appearance|
|October 5, 1985 for the Detroit Tigers|
|Runs batted in||284|
|Career highlights and awards|
Robert Douglas Flynn, Jr. (born April 18, 1951) is a former Major League Baseball infielder. More known for his glove than his bat, he is best known as one of the players the Cincinnati Reds sent to the New York Mets in the infamous "Midnight Massacre."
Flynn was born and raised in Lexington, Kentucky. He attended Bryan Station High School, where he starred in baseball, basketball and football, playing quarterback on a 12-1 team. He went to the University of Kentucky on a combination baseball-basketball scholarship. While attending Kentucky, Flynn and some friends went to a Cincinnati Reds tryout camp. Flynn made the cut. After one more tryout camp and yet another audition at Riverfront Stadium, the Reds signed him as an amateur free agent in 1971.
A light hitter, with little power, Flynn batted .245 with six home runs and 113 runs batted in over three seasons in the Reds' farm system. Still, his glove impressed Reds manager Sparky Anderson. Despite having played shortstop predominantly in the minors, Flynn went into Spring training 1975 battling Darrell Chaney, Dan Driessen and John Vukovich for the open third base job.
He made the team, but as a utility infielder, and made his major league debut on April 9 against the Los Angeles Dodgers at short. Starting the following night, Flynn scored his first major league run after reaching on a force play on the fourth inning. Three innings later, he chased Dodgers starter Rick Rhoden out of the game with his first career hit, a single to center.
Flynn batted just .172 with no home runs or RBIs in April. With Reds third basemen batting a combined .162, Anderson shifted perennial All-Star and former National League MVP Pete Rose to third, with a platoon of George Foster and Driessen taking over in left. The shift worked, as the team won 108 games that season to storm to a first place finish in the National League East by twenty games over the Dodgers. The reduced role also seemed to do Flynn's bat some good. Over the rest of the season, Flynn batted .296 with twenty RBIs. He hit his first major league home run on May 21 against the New York Mets, a game in which Tom Seaver was the losing pitcher.
Flynn saw semi-regular action early in the 1976 season due to a back injury to Joe Morgan. During a nine game stretch in June, Flynn batted .382. He ended up appearing in 93 games for the "Big Red Machine", as they became affectionately called, and batted .283 with one home run and twenty RBIs. The Reds won the 1975 and 1976 World Series. Flynn's only postseason appearance came as a defensive replacement in the 1976 National League Championship Series against the Philadelphia Phillies.
The joy of being part of a World Series Championship for a second year in a row was short lived. His sister, Melanie, disappeared on the evening of January 25, 1977. She was still considered a missing person when Flynn headed to camp for the 1977 season.
Flynn's role with the Reds decreased drastically in 1977. Through June 12, he appeared in 36 games, mostly as a late inning defensive replacement for Rose at third. Meanwhile, Tom Seaver was in a contract dispute with New York Mets chairman M. Donald Grant. On Wednesday, June 15, 1977 Grant traded Seaver to the Cincinnati Reds for Steve Henderson, Dan Norman, Pat Zachry and Flynn.
New York Mets
Flynn's playing time increased substantially upon his arrival in New York, even though he batted just .191 with no home runs and fourteen RBIs. Most of his playing time came at short, but he spent time at second base as well. Following the season, the Mets reacquired formed number one overall draft pick Tim Foli to play short. Just as pitchers and catchers were reporting to Spring training, the Mets sold the contract of second baseman Félix Millán to the Taiyo Whales of Nippon Professional Baseball with the intention of using Flynn at second.
He began the season at second, but shifted to short when Foli injured his knee at the end of April, and returned there periodically throughout the remainder of the season. All told, he logged 430 innings at short, committing just seven errors for a .968 fielding percentage. At second, he logged the leagues second best fielding percentage (behind the Montreal Expos' Dave Cash) at .986. With the bat, Flynn produced a modest .237 batting average with no home runs and 36 RBIs in the eighth spot of manager Joe Torre's batting order, however, he tied Lenny Randle and Joel Youngblood for the team lead with eight triples.
Flynn's first home run as a Met was a three run shot off future Hall of Famer Gaylord Perry on May 1, 1979. It was also his only career four RBI game. On June 12, just three days shy of the second anniversary of the "Midnight Massacre," Flynn hit his second home run, an inside-the-park three run homer, against the Reds to cap off a 12-6 Mets victory. Flynn seemed to be at his best against his former club. A week earlier, he doubled in the tying run, and later scored the go-ahead run in the Mets' 5-3 win over Cincinnati, and produced a .310 batting average with seven RBIs against Reds pitching. All told, 1979 was Flynn's best offensive season, as he batted .243 with career highs in home runs (4) and RBIs (61). He also began to emerge as one of the better fielding second basemen in the National League. He led the league in putouts and double plays turned, and was third in the league with a .983 fielding percentage.
On August 5, 1980, Flynn tied a major league record with three triples in one game. He also scored all three times. For the week, he batted .419 (13 for 31) with five runs scored and five RBIs to be named NL Player of the Week. Still, Flynn's greatest contribution to his club was with his glove. His .991 fielding percentage was tops in the league, and earned him the National League Gold Glove Award at second base. He was just the third Met ever to receive this honor (Tommie Agee in 1970 and Bud Harrelson in 1971 being the first two).
Flynn signed a new five-year contract before the 1981 season, but that did not prevent it from being his last season as a Met. With top prospect Wally Backman ready to make the jump to the majors, the Mets traded Flynn to the Texas Rangers with Dan Boitano for Jim Kern at the end of the season. Kern was then packaged with Greg Harris and Alex Trevino for George Foster from the Cincinnati Reds.
Rangers, Expos and Tigers
Just prior to the start of the 1982 season, the Rangers traded incumbent second baseman Bump Wills to the Chicago Cubs, opening the starting job for Flynn. As the season wore on, rookie prospect Mike Richardt began getting the bulk of the playing time at second with Flynn splitting his time between second and short. The Montreal Expos had used seven different players at second base, and were desperate need of an upgrade at that position when they purchased Flynn's contract from Texas on August 2.
He held the starting second base job with the Expos through 1984. At the 1984 Winter meetings, the Expos acquired third baseman Vance Law from the Chicago White Sox. Law had also played some second and was a shortstop in the minors. The intention was to convert him into a second baseman in Montreal. Once the experiment proved successful, the Expos placed Flynn on waivers. Though the Houston Astros expressed interest, he ended up signing with the Detroit Tigers for the remainder of the 1985 season. He retired from baseball when the Tigers released him in Spring training the following season.
Flynn's father, Bobby, was a second baseman in the Brooklyn Dodgers' organization in 1948, and later played semi-pro ball with the Lexington Hustlers. While his son was coming up through the Reds' minor league system, Bobby was also climbing politically, serving as Kentucky state senator. His mother also played second base in fast-pitch softball for years. After retirement from baseball, Flynn spent a couple of years working in the Mets minor league system. He then headed up the state of Kentucky's anti-drug program.
His wife of 31 years, Olga, is a former Philadelphia Eagles cheerleader whom he was set up with by Pete Rose. They were married in February 1982 and they currently live in Lexington, Kentucky. Doug has been a banking officer for Central Bank, a locally owned, independent bank, since 1998.
In 1981, Flynn began singing country music songs at Cody's, a club at Sixth Avenue and 16th Street in Manhattan on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday nights. When baseball went on strike in 1981, Flynn traveled a bit with the Oak Ridge Boys and sang on tour with them. He still loves to sing and pairs up with former Reds teammate Johnny Bench at their successful golf tournament every year on cabaret night. He still attends both New York Mets and Cincinnati Reds reunion events.
In early 2010, he faced a bout with thyroid cancer. '"They took my thyroid out, and it did a little damage to my voice box, but I'm doing good," Flynn said later that year, his voice giving away little hint of what's happened.'
- "Former Mets Gold Glove Second Baseman: Doug Flynn (1977–1981)". Centerfield Maz. April 18, 2013.
- Don Collins (August 6, 1976). "Doug Flynn Makes the Major Leagues". The Daily News (Kentucky). p. 25.
- "Sparky Still Chasing Elusive Goal". Star-News. March 7, 1974. p. 24.
- "Cincinnati Reds 4, Los Angeles Dodgers 3". Baseball-Reference.com. April 9, 1975.
- "Cincinnati Reds 7, Los Angeles Dodgers 6". Baseball-Reference.com. April 10, 1975.
- "Rose Returning to Third Base". Portsmouth Daily Times. May 3, 1975.
- "Cincinnati Reds 11, New York Mets 4". Baseball-Reference.com. May 21, 1975.
- "Reds Win; Zachry Back on Top". The Palm Beach Post. June 22, 1976. p. D1.
- "1976 National League Championship Series, Game One". Baseball-Reference.com. October 9, 1976.
- "Where is She Now?". WordPress.com. November 30, 2012.
- "Tom Seaver Finds New Spouse: Trade to Reds Expected Soon". Boca Raton News. June 14, 1977. p. 9.
- "Mets Trade 'Franchise'". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. June 16, 1977.
- "Williams to Coach Red Sox; Cincy's President Resigns". Sarasota Herald-Tribune. February 17, 1978. p. 5E.
- "Foli On Disabled List". The Daytona Beach News-Journal. April 25, 1978. p. 4B.
- "San Diego Padres 10, New York Mets 5". Baseball-Reference.com. May 1, 1979.
- "Flynn Celebrates Trade". Pittsburgh Press. June 13, 1979. p. D20.
- "New York Mets 5, Cincinnati Reds 3". Baseball-Reference.com. June 6, 1979.
- "Expos Beat Mets 11-5; Williams' 1,000 Win". The Gadsden Times. August 6, 1980. p. 15.
- "Flynn Signs 5-Year Pact". The New York Times. March 17, 1981.
- "Winter Meetings Close With Furry of Activity". Reading Eagle. December 12, 1981. p. 6.
- "Expos Get Flynn From Texas". The Gazette (Montreal). August 3, 1982. p. C5.
- John Nelson (December 8, 1984). "Sutter Signs With Atlanta". Deseret News. p. D1.
- Brian Kappler (June 15, 1985). "Raines Creeps Up On Stolen Base Record". Montreal Gazette. p. E4.
- "'Coming Home' Says Frank Tanana". Ludington Daily News. June 22, 1985. p. 6.
- Kevin Kernan (October 10, 2009). "Former Met Flynn ‘banks’ on success after baseball". New York Post.
- George Vecsey (January 11, 1981). "Mets' Flynn Hitting Musical Notes Now". The New York Times.
- Career statistics and player information from MLB, or ESPN, or Baseball-Reference, or Fangraphs, or The Baseball Cube, or Baseball-Reference (Minors), or The Ultimate Mets Database