BALTIMORE, AUG. 31 -- On surely one of the weirdest days in their long and glorious history, the Baltimore Orioles tonight said goodbye to a member of their family, trading veteran left-hander Mike Flanagan to Toronto for a minor league pitcher and a player to be named later.
The trade came a few hours after the Orioles announced that infielder Alan Wiggins had been suspended indefinitely and a few moments before a 4-3 victory over Seattle attended by 15,411 at Memorial Stadium.
In a whirlwind few hours this afternoon, Baltimore General Manager Hank Peters and Toronto General Manager Pat Gillick reached agreement on a trade, with the Orioles to receive right-hander Oswald Peraza, 24, one of the Blue Jays' brightest pitching prospects, plus an unidentified player later.
The second name wasn't announced because that player is on Toronto's 40-man roster and must clear waivers, which will take until about Friday.
To make room for Flanagan on the roster, Toronto released knuckleballer Phil Niekro. Niekor, 48, was 0-3 after being acquired from Cleveland July 9, and 7-14 on the season for a 318-275 career.
The trade wasn't completed until about 7:30, and only after Flanagan, 35, had locked himself in Manager Cal Ripken Sr.'s office and spent 2 1/2 hours on the telephone with his agent, Jerry Kapstein of San Diego, and Gillick.
Flanagan could have vetoed the trade because he's a 10-five man (10 years of major league service, five with one team). He accepted after the Blue Jays agreed to add a year to his $625,000 contract, which was up after this season.
Playoff rosters are set at midnight tonight, and by league rules, Flanagan had to be in Toronto by then. So the Blue Jays sent a jet to Baltimore for Flanagan, an indication of how important they think he'll be in their run for the American League East championship.
It was an emotional day for several Orioles, especially first baseman Eddie Murray and pitcher Scott McGregor, two of Flanagan's closest friends. Flanagan broke in with the Orioles in 1975, won a Cy Young Award for them in 1979 and, with 139 victories, is the fourth-biggest winner in club history.
With Flanagan's departure, only five players remain from the Orioles' 1983 championship team -- Murray, McGregor, Mike Boddicker, Jim Dwyer and Cal Ripken Jr.
"This has been a very strange day," Flanagan said. "It's sad to be leaving, and difficult. You hope you'll never have to make a decison like this. I have good feelings for the Orioles and wish them the best. I'll always be an Oriole."
Asked what the Blue Jays expect of him, he said, "A pennant. That's about it. I'm just going to go up and do the best I can. They seemed very excited about having me."
He later joked, "I picked up a few games in the standings today."
He appears to have made a terrific career move, going from a team that hasn't been in contention in four years to one that won a division two years ago and currently is one game out of first place.
Flanagan won the admiration of his teammates and managers long ago, first for his intelligence and sense of humor and later by battling back from several potentially career-ending injuries.
He has been on the disabled list four times in the last five seasons, suffering a serious knee injury in 1983 and a torn Achilles' tendon in 1985. He has been on and off the disabled list with tendinitis of the left elbow the last two years. This year, despite a 3-6 record, he has pitched well since leaving the DL, going 3-1 with a 3.71 ERA.
"It's tough to say goodbye to one of the old Orioles," Peters said. "And he's one of them. He's had a damned good career and we hate to see it."
Flanagan said, "Hank and I had kind of a father-son relationship, but he said this was just a business decision."
McGregor said, "We just sat in here and looked at each other, then shook hands. We didn't say too much because it might have gotten ugly. But it's a good thing for him. He's going to a team in contention and got another year on his contract. I'm happy for him, but he's certainly going to be missed."
Ripken Sr., who managed Flanagan in Class AA Asheville when both were working their way up the ladder, said, "I don't know anything better you can say than that he's a true Oriole. I consider that a high compliment."
Coincidentally, Flanagan's 17-7 record against Toronto is the best of any American League pitcher versus the Blue Jays. The Blue Jays said they had three scouts look at Flanagan before deciding to trade for him, and Gillick said, "Our guys think he's coming back."
The trade speeds the overhaul of the Orioles' roster. Left-hander Jeff Ballard was called back up from Rochester and will start Wednesday, joining fellow rookies Eric Bell and John Habyan in the rotation.
The Orioles also called up reliever Luis DeLeon and Pete Stanicek, a second baseman who will go into the lineup tonight as designated hitter, leading off. The club regards Stanicek as one of its best prospects.
The trade of Flanagan overshadowed what happened during the game, but what happened was a mixture of good and bad news for the Orioles (60-71).
They won a game, getting Mike Hart's third homer. But they may have lost another pitcher. Starter Mike Griffin (3-5) allowed just one run in 5 2/3 innings, but left when a line drive from Dave Valle hit him above the right knee.
Griffin was able to walk off, but his availability for his next start is in doubt. Before the game, the Orioles learned that Dave Schmidt, their only 10-game winner, probably won't pitch anymore this season because of bone chips in his right elbow.
Schmidt tried to warm up in the bullpen before the game and felt the pain he has had for almost a month. He has been told he'll need arthroscopic surgery when the season is over, but the Orioles have asked him to continue to try to pitch.
"It's just not coming around," Schmidt said. "I've got to talk to them. If we were playing for something, I'd continue to try to pitch. But I couldn't pitch right now no matter what."
Griffin did get the victory tonight. Mark Williamson pitched 2 2/3 innings, and Tom Niedenfuer got the final two outs for his 10th save.
The game was tied, 1-1, in the fifth when Hart homered off Mike Morgan (10-15). Jim Dwyer and Bill Ripken (two for four) singled. Cal Ripken Jr. hit a routine grounder to second baseman Harold Reynolds. Dwyer broke for the plate, and Reynolds threw home to get him in a rundown. But catcher Valle threw past third baseman Jim Presley, both Dwyer and Bill Ripken scoring.