Thursday, August 25, 2011

Mike Flanagan is gone...

Mike Flanagan died last night. Mike Flanagan autographed picture 1979

Flanagan won the Cy Young Award with the Orioles in 1979 when he went 23-9 with a 3.08 ERA and five shutouts. He also played for Baltimore's 1983 world championship team, going 12-4 despite missing nearly three months with ligament damage in his left knee. Only two pitchers have thrown more innings in an O's uniform (Jim Palmer and Mike Mussina). He also ranks fifth in wins, with 141; he is fourth in strikeouts and complete games and seventh in shutouts. Though he spent parts of four seasons with the Blue Jays, he finished his career pitching two more seasons with the Orioles, re-casting himself as a successful left-handed reliever. He fulfilled a dream by recording the final two outs by an Orioles pitcher at old Memorial Stadium in 1991.

"I know everybody that played with him loved him to death. He was the backbone of that pitching staff. He never quit — this guy never quit. He was there for the duration. We had so many great games and so many great times." - Rick Dempsey, who caught many of those games

"He's one of our family. A great friend, competitor, wit, funny, hysterical, talented. He was a breath of fresh air with his humor, his insight, all those things. He was just a terrific guy." - Hall of Fame pitcher Jim Palmer, long-time teammate

"I am so sorry to hear about Mike's passing. He was a good friend and teammate... Mike was an Oriole through and through, and he will be sorely missed by family, friends and fans. This is a sad day." - Cal Ripken, teammate for every Oriole game

"He could make you laugh when you didn't want to laugh.... He just kept going out there. He never wanted to come out of a game. No matter how good or how bad the situation, Mike always tried to make the best pitch every time the ball came out of his hand." - Terry Crowley, teammate

I moved to Maryland in 1982, a die-hard NL fan. I was going to go to Orioles games because that was the team that was here, but I'd decided to pull for my mother's team (the Indians). But that was the year the Orioles won it all. And I fell hard for that team, including that marvelous pitching staff with Palmer and Scotty McGregor and Mike Flanagan. If they'd played the Braves in the Series I'd have been torn... And I loved them for years afterward - even through that almost unimaginably bad 1988 season.

If it's true he killed himself, the news is immeasurably sadder. But it's sad enough.



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