Mike Flanagan (baseball)

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Mike Flanagan
Mike Flanagan.jpg
Flanagan in 2007
Pitcher
Born: (1951-12-16)December 16, 1951
Manchester, New Hampshire
Died: August 24, 2011(2011-08-24) (aged 59)
Sparks, Maryland
Batted: Left Threw: Left
MLB debut
September 5, 1975 for the Baltimore Orioles
Last MLB appearance
September 27, 1992 for the Baltimore Orioles
Career statistics
Win–loss record 167–143
Earned run average 3.90
Strikeouts 1,491
Teams
Career highlights and awards

Michael Kendall Flanagan (December 16, 1951 – August 24, 2011)[1] was an American left-handed pitcher, front office executive, and color commentator. With the exception of four years with the Toronto Blue Jays (19871990), he was with the Baltimore Orioles for his entire career in Major League Baseball (MLB).

Flanagan was a starting pitcher for the Orioles from 1975 through 1987. He was named to the American League (AL) All-Star Team once in 1978. The following year, the first of two times he would play on an AL pennant winner, his 23 victories led the circuit and earned him the league's Cy Young Award. He was a member of the Orioles' World Series Championship team in 1983. He returned to Baltimore to close out his playing career as a reliever in 1991 and 1992. During this second tour, he contributed to the most recent no-hitter thrown by the club. He was also the last Orioles pitcher to appear in a major-league contest at Memorial Stadium.

In an 18-season career, Flanagan posted a 167–143 record with 1491 strikeouts and a 3.90 ERA in 2770.0 innings pitched.

He served in three different positions with the Orioles after his retirement as an active player. He was the pitching coach in 1995 and 1998 and the executive vice president of baseball operations from 2006 through 2008. At the time of his death, he was one of the team's broadcasters, a role he had previously held three times (1994, 1996–1997, 1999–2002).[2]

Early years[edit]

Born and raised in Manchester, New Hampshire, he was one of Ed and Lorraine Flanagan's four children and the younger of their two sons. Under the coaching of his father and grandfather Ed Sr., who both played in the Boston Red Sox organization, Flanagan once struck out 18 batters in a six-inning Little League game.[3][4]

Flanagan graduated from Manchester (NH) Memorial High School, where he was on the baseball and basketball teams that each won consecutive New Hampshire Interscholastic Athletic Association (NHIAA) Class L titles in 1970 and 1971.[5] His pitching was limited in 1971 due to an arm injury he had sustained while playing American Legion Baseball for the local Henry J. Sweeney Post the previous summer.[6] This factored into him not signing a contract after he was picked by the Houston Astros in the 15th round (346th overall) of the 1971 Major League Baseball Draft.[5][7]

University of Massachusetts Amherst[edit]

Flanagan attended the University of Massachusetts Amherst, where he played baseball in 1972 and 1973. He earned first team All-Yankee Conference and first team All-New England honors in 1973, after he compiled a 9–1 record with a 1.52 ERA and 91 strikeouts, to lead the team in all three categories. The nine wins and .900 winning percentage also set school single-season records at the time. Flanagan had a career ERA of 1.19 and a career winning percentage of .923 (12–1), which are both still the best marks in school history.[8] He also played in the outfield while at UMass, hitting .320 with six homers and 29 RBIs in 128 career at-bats.

Flanagan also played freshman basketball at UMass, where he crossed paths with Julius Erving.[9] Flanagan said, "I really didn’t know much about Dr. J until I came down on a fast break and pulled up to take a jump shot. Dr. J was nowhere in the area but, out of nowhere, he blocked the shot and nine players were running the other way. First thing I thought? Better work on my slider, because this is a whole different level of play."[9] He received his degree from the UMass School of Education in 1975, and he was inducted into the UMass Athletic Hall of Fame in 2000.[10]

He was a pitcher and outfielder for the Falmouth Commodores in the Cape Cod Baseball League (CCBL) during the summer of 1972. He had a 7–1 record and a 2.18 earned run average (ERA), while batting .286 with seven home runs. He was a member of the CCBL's inaugural Hall of Fame class in 2000.[11]

Professional career[edit]

Baltimore Orioles (1975-1987)[edit]

Flanagan was selected again in the 1973 MLB Draft, this time by the Baltimore Orioles in the 7th round (159th overall).[12] When he signed with the Orioles, the ballclub agreed to finance the remainder of his college education.[3] He progressed through the organization, with stops in Miami (1973–1974), Asheville (1974) and Rochester, where he went 13–4 with a 2.50 ERA in 1975.[13]

His experience in the major leagues began with two appearances as a September call-up in 1975.[14] In his MLB debut on September 5, he pitched 1⅔ innings in relief of starter Wayne Garland in a 5–4 victory at home over the New York Yankees in the opener of a twi-night doubleheader.[15] His first decision was a 3–2 loss to the same opponent at Shea Stadium in the nightcap of another twin bill on September 28. He was on the verge of a complete-game shutout until the bottom of the ninth when the first three batters he faced reached base and Dyar Miller allowed all of them to score.[16]

Flanagan's 1976 campaign was split between Rochester and Baltimore.[13][14] He did not get his first major-league win until a 7–1 complete-game triumph at home over the eventual AL West champion Kansas City Royals on September 1.[17] He joined the Orioles' starting rotation in 1977, finishing with a 15–10 record."[18]

One of the team's most dependable pitchers for the next nine years, Flanagan went to the All-Star Game in 1978 and won the Cy Young Award in 1979 with a record of 23–9 and an ERA of 3.08.

On September 17, 1980, Flanagan was called for a balk, which led to Earl Weaver's most infamous tirade on YouTube.

Flanagan suffered two major injuries during his tenure with the Orioles, a knee injury in 1983, and a torn achilles tendon from a pick-up basketball game.

Toronto Blue Jays (1987-1990)[edit]

His time between tours with the Orioles was spent with the Toronto Blue Jays, beginning on August 31, 1987 when he was traded for Oswaldo Peraza. José Mesa was sent to Baltimore to complete the deal on September 4. The Blue Jays released Phil Niekro to make room for Flanagan on their roster.[19]

Flanagan's finest performance with the Blue Jays took place at Tiger Stadium in the penultimate game of the 1987 regular season on October 3.[20] With Toronto in a first-place tie with the Detroit Tigers and having lost its last five contests,[21] he outlasted Jack Morris by pitching eleven innings before departing with the match deadlocked at 2–2. The Blue Jays ended up losing the game 3–2 one inning later and the AL East championship the following afternoon.[22] Morris said after the game, "Flanagan was so great, so competitive, that I considered my job to be survival – somehow keep us tied until he left the game. We weren't going to get to the playoffs beating him, we could only get there surviving him."[18]

Flanagan's only postseason experience with the Blue Jays was a Game 4 start in the 1989 AL Championship Series on October 7. He pitched 4⅓ innings, giving up five runs and three homers. The only one not hit by Rickey Henderson, Jose Canseco's 480-foot (146.30 meters) shot in the third inning, was the first ever to land in the top deck at Skydome.[22][23]

His final appearance with Toronto was a start that resulted in a 3–1 loss at home to the Tigers on May 4, 1990, as he surrendered all three runs in 4⅓ innings.[24] He was released on May 8.[25] His overall record with the Blue Jays was 26–27.[22]

Second stint with the Baltimore Orioles (1991-1992)[edit]

Returning as a free agent to Baltimore for the 1991 season, he pitched effectively that season as a reliever, including sharing a no-hitter with starter Bob Milacki, middle reliever Mark Williamson, and closer Gregg Olson.[26] After the 1992 season, Flanagan retired from baseball.

Post-playing days[edit]

He served two stints each as a pitching coach and broadcaster for the Orioles. Flanagan was the Orioles' executive vice president of baseball operations. In recent years, positions in the Orioles' front office have been referred to by this title that would be known as general manager in other team organizations. However with the appointment of Andy MacPhail as President of Baseball Operations, his responsibilities dwindled. According to Dave Johnson on the August 15, 2009 episode of the Tom Davis Show, Flanagan's contract with the Orioles had ended in 2008 and he was no longer officially with the club.

Flanagan's career as a color commentator on Orioles telecasts began with 20 contests on Home Team Sports (HTS) in 1994. His appointment by the network as the primary game analyst alongside Mel Proctor in early-January 1996 followed the controversial dismissal of John Lowenstein, an Orioles teammate of Flanagan's during their playing days.[27][28] He also teamed with Michael Reghi for a year before being succeeded by Rick Cerone prior to the 1998 season.[29] He rejoined Reghi in the broadcast booth after replacing Cerone in 1999.[30] He continued in that capacity for four more seasons, during which HTS evolved into Comcast SportsNet Mid-Atlantic. He was followed behind the microphone by Buck Martinez in 2003.[31] He joined the Mid-Atlantic Sports Network (MASN) as the secondary analyst after Martinez became the Blue Jays' lead broadcaster on Rogers Sportsnet in 2010. Both he and Jim Palmer worked with rotating play-by-play announcers Gary Thorne and Jim Hunter.[32]

Sense of humor[edit]

Flanagan was noted for his sense of humor, especially when it involved using puns to create nicknames. In his baseball column in the Sunday issues of The Boston Globe during the late-1970s, Peter Gammons ran a regular feature called the Mike Flanagan Nickname of the Week. One example was John "Clams" Castino, which was a play on clams casino.[18] Another was "Mordecai Six Toe" Lezcano, based on Mordecai "Three Finger" Brown and given to Sixto Lezcano.[33] When the Blue Jays allowed Tony Solaita to sign with the Nippon-Ham Fighters after the 1979 campaign, he was dubbed "Tony Obsolaita".[18] During the 1980 season, Flanagan called himself "Cy Young", Jim Palmer "Cy Old", Steve Stone "Cy Present" and Scott McGregor "Cy Future." When Storm Davis, whose pitching motion resembled Palmer's, joined the Orioles two years later in 1982, he was "Cy Clone."[34] Flanagan added that pitchers became "Cy-bex" if they were injured and "Cy-onara" when they were no longer effective.[35] Two monikers that stuck were "Full Pack" and "Stan the Man Unusual", both of which coined for Don Stanhouse; the former nickname referred to the relief pitcher's causing manager Earl Weaver to smoke a full pack of cigarettes while Stanhouse was pitching, and the latter nickname was a play on "Stan the Man" Musial's nickname.[34] This nickname concept was later popularized by ESPN's Chris Berman, who was inspired by the feature in Gammons' column.[18]

Pitching style[edit]

Flanagan's pitch selection included a slow curve, heavy sinker, fastball, and a changeup supposedly taught to him by Scott McGregor in 1979.[36]

Personal[edit]

Flanagan's oldest daughter Kerry Ellen was the fourth American born through in vitro fertilization (IVF) and the first IVF baby not born by Caesarean section. She was born at the Greater Baltimore Medical Center on July 9, 1982. The conception had been performed at the Eastern Virginia Medical School.[37][38]

Death[edit]

When Flanagan's wife Alex did not hear from her husband on August 24, 2011, she called a neighbor to check on him. The neighbor went to the home and called 9-1-1 after failing to find him. Police discovered a body on the property but could not immediately determine the identity because the wounds were so severe.[39] The body was later identified as Flanagan, with the cause of death determined to be a self-inflicted shotgun wound to the head.[1][2]

Police said that Flanagan was distressed about financial issues.[2][40] WBAL-TV reported that Flanagan was still despondent about perceived failures during his tenure in the Orioles' front office.[41] Approximately one year after her husband's death, Alex Flanagan told Dan Rodricks of the Baltimore Sun that her husband had struggled with depression for many years.[42]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

In-line citations
  1. ^ a b "Sources: Mike Flanagan Found Dead". WBAL Sports. Retrieved 25 August 2011. 
  2. ^ a b c Fenton, Justin. "Former Orioles pitcher Flanagan dead in apparent suicide". The Baltimore Sun. Retrieved 25 August 2011. 
  3. ^ a b Keaney, Bob. "Orioles/UMass pitching legend Flanagan had links to Lynn, Swampscott", The Daily Item (Lynn, Massachusetts), Friday, August 26, 2011
  4. ^ Star, Jon & Schelling, Jordan. "Longtime Oriole Flanagan dead at 59" MLB.com, Thursday, August 25, 2011
  5. ^ a b Habib, John. "NH native Mike Flanagan recalled as top athlete" New Hampshire Union Leader (Manchester, New Hampshire), Friday, August 26, 2011
  6. ^ Brown, Garry. "Former coach Dick Bergquist: Mike Flanagan never forgot UMass" MassLive.com, Thursday, August 25, 2011
  7. ^ 1971 Major League Baseball Draft, Rounds 11–20 Pro Sports Transactions
  8. ^ "UMass Baseball Record Book". UMass Athletics. Retrieved 26 August 2011. 
  9. ^ a b Vautour, Matt. "Berquist recalls Flanagan". Daily Hampshire Gazette. Retrieved 25 August 2011. 
  10. ^ "University of Massachusetts Hall of Fame Members". UMass Athletics. Retrieved 26 August 2011. 
  11. ^ Garner, John & Converse, Geoff. "CCBL Hall of Famer Flanagan will be Remembered" Cape Cod Baseball League, Thursday, August 25, 2011
  12. ^ 1973 Major League Baseball Draft, Rounds 1–10 Pro Sports Transactions
  13. ^ a b Mike Flanagan (minor league statistics & history) Baseball-Reference.com
  14. ^ a b Mike Flanagan (statistics & history) Baseball-Reference.com
  15. ^ Baltimore Orioles 5, New York Yankees 4 (1); Friday, September 5, 1975 (N) at Memorial Stadium Retrosheet
  16. ^ New York Yankees 3, Baltimore Orioles 2 (2); Sunday, September 28, 1975 (D) at Shea Stadium Retrosheet
  17. ^ Baltimore Orioles 7, Kansas City Royals 1; Wednesday, September 1, 1976 (N) at Memorial Stadium – Retrosheet
  18. ^ a b c d e Gammons, Peter. "Flanagan brought humor, smarts to ballpark", MLB.com, Thursday, August 25, 2011
  19. ^ "SPORTS PEOPLE; Phil Niekro Released" The New York Times, Wednesday, September 2, 1987
  20. ^ Detroit Tigers 3, Toronto Blue Jays 2; Saturday, October 3, 1987 (D) at Tiger Stadium Retrosheet
  21. ^ 1987 Toronto Blue Jays (schedule, box scores & splits) Baseball-Reference.com
  22. ^ a b c Harrison, Doug. "The good and bad from Flanagan's Jays days" CBC Sports, Thursday, August 25, 2011
  23. ^ Oakland Athletics 6, Toronto Blue Jays 5; American League Championship Series, Game 4; Saturday, October 7, 1989 (D) at SkyDome Retrosheet
  24. ^ Detroit Tigers 3, Toronto Blue Jays 1; Friday, May 4, 1990 (N) at SkyDome Retrosheet
  25. ^ "SPORTS PEOPLE: BASEBALL; Flanagan Released", Associated Press, Wednesday, May 9, 1990
  26. ^ Smith, Claire (14 July 1991). "Baseball; 1 Game / 4 Arms = Orioles No-Hitter". The New York Times. Retrieved 25 August 2011. 
  27. ^ Kent, Milton. "HTS adds Flanagan to roster, puts Lowenstein on waivers", The Baltimore Sun, Monday, January 8, 1996
  28. ^ Kent, Milton. "Lowenstein: Maybe criticism of O's led to 'inexplicable' firing" The Baltimore Sun, Monday, January 22, 1996
  29. ^ Kent, Milton. "Cerone to be HTS pick as O's analyst; Ex-Yankee expected to join Reghi in booth" The Baltimore Sun, Thursday, January 29, 1998
  30. ^ Kent, Milton. "If not flashy, Flanny is steady, witty", The Baltimore Sun, Tuesday, April 6, 1999
  31. ^ Kubatko, Roch. "B. Martinez to fill Flanagan void as analyst on televised O's games", The Baltimore Sun, Saturday, March 22, 2003
  32. ^ "Mike Flanagan joins MASN's Orioles broadcast team"', Mid-Atlantic Sports Network news release, Wednesday, March 10, 2010
  33. ^ Gammons, Peter. "Angelos hoping Flanagan, Beattie bring O's back to glory" ESPN.com, Tuesday, December 17, 2002
  34. ^ a b Burke, Mike. "Flanagan the best of the last brightest time" Cumberland (MD) Times-News, Thursday, August 25, 2011
  35. ^ Kurkjian, Tim. "Flanagan, a memorable man", ESPN.com, Friday, August 26, 2011
  36. ^ The Neyer/James Guide to Pitchers: An Historical Compendium of Pitching, Pitchers, and Pitches. Bill James and Rob Neyer. 2004.
  37. ^ "Sports People; Girl for Flanagans" The New York Times, Saturday, July 10, 1982
  38. ^ Bonnett, Margie. "Mike and Kathy Flanagan's Stats Include a Biggie: The U.S.'s First Natural 'Test-Tube' Birth", People (magazine), September 20, 1982
  39. ^ GINSBURG, DAVID (26 August 2011). "Flanagan death ruled suicide by medical examiner". Associated Press. Retrieved 26 August 2011. 
  40. ^ Walker, Childs (26 August 2011). "Friends saw Flanagan's pain, still shocked by suicide". Baltimore Sun. Retrieved 26 August 2011. 
  41. ^ Zurawik, David (25 August 2011). "WBAL-TV stands behind Sandusky report on Flanagan and reasons for suicide". Baltimore Sun. Retrieved 26 August 2011. 
  42. ^ Dan Rodricks, Death of Mike Flanagan, Orioles great, leaves shadows of doubt, Baltimore Sun (August 18, 2012). Retrieved on September 26, 2012.
General

External links[edit]

Awards and achievements
Preceded by
Tommy Greene
No-hit game
July 13, 1991
with Milacki, Williamson & Olson
Succeeded by
Dennis Martínez
Sporting positions
Preceded by
Dick Bosman
Baltimore Orioles Pitching Coach
1995
Succeeded by
Pat Dobson
Preceded by
Ray Miller
Baltimore Orioles Pitching Coach
1998
Succeeded by
Bruce Kison
Preceded by
Syd Thrift
Baltimore Orioles Vice President of Baseball Operations
December 4, 2002 – October 10, 2005
Succeeded by
Jim Duquette
Preceded by
Jim Beattie
Baltimore Orioles Executive Vice President of Baseball Operations
October 11, 2005–2007
Succeeded by
position abolished (Andy MacPhail as President of Baseball Operations)