Mike Flanagan was much more than the 1979 Cy Young Award winner who led his team to a World Series appearance. He was much more than an integral component of the Baltimore Orioles 1983 World Championship team. He was more than the last man to ever start a game at the historic Memorial Stadium in Baltimore.
Known for his friendship, humor and dedication to the Orioles, Mike Flanagan was truly an icon to the city of Baltimore, Maryland. He passed away today at the age of 59 years old.
Flanagan joined the Orioles as a seventh round draft choice in 1973. He made the Orioles in 1975 and struggled at first.
“He was something like 2-9 that year,” recalled Orioles Hall of Fame pitcher Jim Palmer. “Earl Weaver, the Orioles Hall of Fame manager, told the press that Flanagan was destined to be a winner. He really didn’t mean it. but he wanted to help Flanagan along.”
Flanagan finished up that year 15-10 after the Weaver quote. It was the beginning of a career where Flanagan would win 167 games and lose 143 at a 3.90 earned run average. Flanagan became a tough as nails starter who epitomized “The Oriole Way.”
Rick Dempsey, the Orioles catcher who was the 1983 World Series MVP, recalled Flanagan after the Orioles won it all that year.
“We were still disappointed in losing the 1979 series, so we did a lot of hard work to win it all in 1983. After we did, we wrote ‘Now We Can Go Home’ on Flanagan’s back in shaving cream.”
Palmer and Dempsey openly wept at the passing of Flanagan on the Orioles Television Network after the team beat the Oakland Athletics for a third straight time. News of Flanagan’s passing was given to them after the conclusion of the Orioles’ latest victory. Buck Showalter, now the team’s current manager, also shed tears and was only able to answer the one question from a crying reporter.
Flanagan did just about every duty imaginable for his beloved team. Not only was he once the Orioles general manager, but he twice served as a pitching coach and television analyst for the organization.
The father of three daughters, his oldest child was the fourth test tube baby ever made in the United States, as well as the first ever not born by Cesarean section delivery.
You could tell what a great man Mike Flanagan was by just the tears of Palmer and Dempsey. Orioles fans already knew what a great pitcher he was and how dedicated he was in helping the team win.
But the measurement of his true impact reaches well beyond baseball. His friendship and loyalty to his family will never be told correctly by an outsider. Though a funny man who was just heard on the Orioles network a few days ago, Flanagan was also known as pensive, thoughtful and supremely intelligent.
One his mentors, Jim Palmer, tried to tell viewers how importantly Flanagan was in his life as he wept. It became more apparent that reality has hit even harder through his tears. The franchise will never be the same with the loss of true greatness.
Rest In peace, Michael Kendall Flanagan.
Thank you for all of the joy you brought Orioles and MLB players and fans.