Baltimore Orioles: Rest in peace, Mike Flanagan

It’s probably fitting that today is an off day for the Baltimore Orioles, as the franchise marks an anniversary that it would rather not remember. In 2011 I was penning the Birds Watcher column, and the Orioles were in Minnesota on a Tuesday night. Just prior to game time that evening news started to spread of a body found on the property of former Oriole great Mike Flanagan.

And you know the rest. As the game went on it was confirmed that in fact the body was Flanagan’s, and that he was a victim of his own hand. This is a story that affected me very deeply. It’s something that I unfortunately had to write about and cover, but it was about as tough as anything I’ve ever seen as an Orioles writer.

Mike Flanagan was on the Oriole teams that I grew up watching as a child in the 1980’s. He was still of the generation where you played for a team and you moved your family to that city and became part of that community – raising your kids there and all. And until his dying day, Mike Flanagan was proud to call Baltimore home. He was a proud New Englander as well, but he loved Baltimore and he was very much a part of this community.

And that’s part of why it was so tragic that he died the way he did. Part of his issue stemmed from his belief that he had done irreparable harm to the franchise when he was the VP years ago. He felt that he had let Orioles fans down in a sense. Orioles fans, the very people who in reality loved him more than he ever knew.

It would be unfair of me to go into any more detail than that. You all know the story – we all do. However on that day six years ago I swore that so long as I covered this team, I’d always mark the day that Mike Flanagan died with a special article. Few will ever forget the so very honest and sorrowful reactions of his MASN associates that night, or the outpouring of support and love from the Baltimore community in the aftermath.

But there’s a slight redemptive spin on this story as well. 2011 was a lost year. However one year later in 2012, the Orioles returned to glory and returned to the post season for the first time in 14 years. Two seasons later, they won the AL East pennant. And there’s no team with more wins since 2012 than the Baltimore Orioles. Flanagan loved this franchise and this city. He would have been so proud.

Mike Flanagan’s death was tragic. But mind you that the real people who suffered were those who knew and loved him. Not the fans or the people who follow the team. Nevertheless, death is a part of life. And if the number of people who loved Mike Flanagan is any indication, he made a huge impact in this world. Rest in peace Mike, we miss you.

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