Former Baltimore Orioles pitching legend Mike Flanagan was found dead Wednesday afternoon on his rural Maryland property.
Baltimore County police were called to the scene where they found a man dead on a “path or trail” outside the home, according to Baltimore County fire and police spokeswoman Elise Armacost. Although police had not announced the identity of the body, the Orioles did confirm Flanagan’s death late Wednesday.
The news came during Wednesday’s Orioles-Minnesota Twins game broadcast on the Mid-Atlantic Sports Network where shock and disbelief set in for those who knew the 59-year-old pitching great.
If you want an indication of how beloved Flanagan was in the Orioles community, among teammates, family and friends, watch an extremely emotional Jim Palmer recount his memories of “Flanny” after Wednesday night’s broadcast.
In a statement released by the team, Orioles Managing Partner Peter Angelos explained Flanagan’s impact on the ballclub:
“In over a quarter century with the organization, Flanny became an integral part of the Orioles family, for his accomplishments both on and off the field. His loss will be felt deeply and profoundly by all of us with the ballclub and by Orioles fans everywhere who admired him.”
Flanagan won 141 games during his Orioles career, helping to lead a staff that claimed the 1983 World Series title. He led the American League with 23 wins in 1979 and earned the Cy Young Award as the O’s advanced to the World Series before falling to the Pittsburgh Pirates. Flanagan made the All-Star game only once — in 1978 — when he was a 19-game winner. In 1987, the Orioles traded him to Toronto but Flanagan returned in 1991 and closed out his career as a reliever back in Baltimore. Flanagan was the last Oriole to pitch in Memorial Stadium and later served as the team’s pitching coach for two one-year stints. He went on to work with the Orioles broadcasting team before becoming the club’s executive vice president from 2005-08.
Orioles manager Buck Showalter received word during Wednesday’s game and shared his thoughts immediately afterward:
“We heard it during the game, and just hoping that something was erroneous. He impacted so many lives, including myself. I’d sit in my office and drinking coffee with him — it’s tough.
“I talked to the guys after the game, let them know what was coming their way. He made great use of his time on this earth, and we’ll miss him.”
Baltimore starter Jeremy Guthrie sports Flanagan’s No. 46 jersey and was the winning pitcher on Wednesday night while playing with a heavy heart.
“I have a strong connection with him. I think since the day I was given the number 46 I had thousands of people tell me that was the number of their favorite pitcher for the Orioles when they were growing up. So from Day One I think I have been reminded of the legacy and the work Mike did, not only as a player, but as a member of the community in Baltimore. It has always been special and now it takes on even a new level. He is not going to be forgotten soon, that’s for sure.”
On his Twitter feed, Orioles outfielder Adam Jones said: “O's family, fans, supporters lost a great man today in Mike Flanagan. Learned alot from Flanny in my 3+ years in Bmore. Ur missed ALOT #46”
Amid the shock and sadness, Houston Chronicle columnist Richard Justice paid homage to a pitcher who loved to laugh as much as he loved to pitch.
Longtime baseball writer and analyst Peter Gammons also knew Flanagan well. Wednesday night he tweeted what many others were thinking:
“As (devastated) as we all are, Mike Flanagan’s life wasn’t wasted, it made most of us what we wouldn’t have been without him.”
(H/T Baseball Nation)