Former Orioles pitcher Mike Flanagan reportedly found dead


Former Orioles pitcher Mike Flanagan, who won the Cy Young in 1979, was found dead at his home. He was 59. (Will Kirk/Associated Press)
August 24, 2011

A man was found dead Wednesday afternoon on the rural Maryland property of former Baltimore Orioles pitching great Mike Flanagan, Baltimore County police said.

The body found was Flanagan’s, according to at least two Baltimore media outlets and a statement issued on the Orioles team Web site Wednesday night.

Police were called to a home in the 15000 block of York Road in the Sparks area of the county about 4:26 p.m. and found a man deceased, said Elise Armacost, a spokeswoman for Baltimore County fire and police. The body was found “on a path or trail” outside of the home, which is owned by Flanagan, Armacost said.

Police officials did not release the identity of the man late Wednesday.

People associated with the team cited by the Baltimore Sun said the body was that of Flanagan, 59, a New Hampshire native. The news also was reportedly announced during the radio broadcast of the team’s game Wednesday night in Minnesota against the Twins.

“It is with deep sadness that I learned of the death of my friend Mike Flanagan earlier this evening,” said Orioles Managing Partner Peter Angelos, in a statement released by the team.

“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,” Angelos said. “His loss will be felt deeply and profoundly by all of us with the ballclub and by Orioles fans everywhere who admired him.”

Authorities did not announce the manner of death in the case and police are currently conducting a death investigation, Armacost said.

Detectives were working on the property late into the night Wednesday at the home, located about 18 miles north of Memorial Stadium, where Flanagan pitched for most of his 17-year career.

Though police had not confirmed the identity of the body, word spread quickly in baseball circles.

“It’s just shock right now,” said former Orioles catcher Rick Dempsey. “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. I just can’t believe it.”

At Flanagan’s home Wednesday night, a light was on inside the home and a police car blocked the driveway, letting two vehicles enter the property. Some of his neighbors in the rural neighborhood said they had not seen police activity and had not heard anything out of the ordinary.

Property records show Flanagan and his wife, Alex, purchased the 10.5-acre property in 1997 for $525,000. No one answered the phone at his home, and relatives could not be reached for comment.

Flanagan, who was in his second year as a color analyst for the MASN, spent more than 30 years with the Orioles as a player, coach, front office executive and broadcaster.

Selected by the Orioles in the seventh round of the 1973 amateur draft, Flanagan went on to pitch 18 major league seasons, including parts of 15 with the Orioles. He was a key member of the 1983 World Series champions, going 12-4 with a 3.30 ERA in the regular season and winning Game 3 of the American League Championship Series against the Chicago White Sox.

The left-hander won 141 games in his Orioles career, including an American League-leading 23 in 1979, when the Orioles lost the World Series to the Pittsburgh Pirates in seven games.

Flanagan won the AL Cy Young Award that year as the league’s top pitcher and finished sixth in most valuable player voting. His lone all-star season was in 1978, when he won 19 games in 40 starts, tied for the most in the league.

The Orioles traded Flanagan to the Toronto Blue Jays on Aug. 31, 1987, for pitchers Oswaldo Peraza and Jose Mesa. Flanagan pitched the remainder of that season and parts of three more for Toronto before returning to the Orioles in 1991 as a 39-year-old free agent, spending the last two seasons of his playing career pitching in relief.

After being named to the Orioles Hall of Fame in 1994, Flanagan served as the team’s pitching coach twice, in 1995 under manager Phil Regan and in 1998 under Ray Miller.

He spent 1996-1997 and 1999-2002 broadcasting Orioles games before becoming the club’s executive vice president after the 2005 season, a role he held until his contract expired at the end of 2008.

Justin Fenton and Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun contributed to this report.

Clarence Williams is the night police reporter for The Washington Post and has spent the better part of 13 years standing next to crime scene tape, riding in police cars or waking officials in the middle of night to gather information about breaking news in and around Washington.
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