Today’s a sad day for Baltimore Orioles fans, as on this day in 2011 we lost the late Mike Flanagan. A well-beloved former player and broadcaster, Flanagan’s death is a moment that will nary be forgotten among Orioles fans. On that day I swore that I’d never let this day pass without writing a tribute column of sorts for Flanagan so long as I covered the Orioles.
Please don’t let the passage of time allow you to forget how tough August 24, 2011 (and the subsequent days following) was. The O’s were in Minnesota, and just prior to the game there were reports of a body having been found on Flanagan’s property. As the game wore on the news that many already seemed to fear became official. It was Flanagan himself whose body was found, a victim of a self-inflicted gunshot wound.
None of us who lived through that night will forget the likes of Rick Dempsey and Jim Palmer sorrowfully weaving their way through the MASN postgame show that night. And that moment really shows how close the Orioles family is. All of these guys played together in Baltimore. They adopted the city, and became a part of its fabric. Their families got to know one another, and their kids grew up together.
On this night in 2011, the likes of Palmer, Dempsey, and others lost a brother. And Baltimore lost a friend. Mike Flanagan loved playing here. He loved this community, and he loved raising his kids here. While never far from his New England roots, he became as much a part of Baltimore as crabs and beer.
My hope for the current crop of young Orioles is that they look to that example, and understand what type of organization of which they are a part. It’s an organization who for generations has made family out of total strangers. Look no further than guys like Schoop and Machado, both of whom of course were recently traded. So the likes of Mullins, Nunez, Mancini, and others should take note of the example set by Flanagan, Palmer, and Dempsey. Because closeness with your teammates and your city is never a bad thing.
My hope is that the fans never forget Mike Flanagan. Obviously as time passes he fades further and further into the past. Eventually the generation (my generation) who sat in the grandstand at Memorial Stadium as kids watching him pitch will be old and tired. But there’s another Mike Flanagan out there, ready to find his way to the Orioles, and ready to lead the team back to glory.
The O’s tonight open a four-game set with New York, which features a split-doubleheader tomorrow at Camden Yards. Alex Cobb gets the start tonight for the O’s, and he’ll be opposed by New York’s CC Sabathia. Game time is set for just after 7 PM.