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16 Dec 1951 1
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24 Aug 2011 1
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Full Name:
Michael K Flanagan 1
Birth:
16 Dec 1951 1
Death:
24 Aug 2011 1
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Mike Flanagan, Former Orioles Pitching Star, Dies at 59

 

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Mike Flanagan, the Baltimore left-hander who won the 1979 Cy Young Award as the American League’s leading pitcher and who later worked as an Orioles executive, coach and broadcaster, died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound on Wednesday outside his home in Sparks, Md., the authorities reported. He was 59.

Enlarge This Image Associated Press

Mike Flanagan in 1983

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The Baltimore County Police Department said that Flanagan’s wife, Alex, was out of town and had asked a neighbor to check on him after he sounded upset when she spoke with him by phone at about 1 a.m. and did not phone her back later in the day, as promised. When the neighbor did not find Flanagan at home in the late afternoon, she called the police, who said they discovered his body about 250 feet behind his home.

The state medical examiner ruled Flanagan’s death a suicide resulting from a shotgun wound to the head, the police said. They said that he did not leave a note, but that an investigation showed he “was upset about financial issues.”

Flanagan pitched for 15 seasons in two stints with the Orioles at a time when they were usually pennant contenders. A popular player, he remained a familiar figure, working for the Orioles off the field while the franchise’s fortunes declined over the past decade and a half.

At his death he was an Orioles color commentator for the Mid-Atlantic Sports Network.

Flanagan won the 1979 Cy Young Award with a 23-9 record, leading the league in victories. (He received 26 out of 28 votes; Tommy John and Ron Guidry, both Yankees, received one vote each.) He had 16 complete games, 5 shutouts and a 3.08 earned run average that year as the Orioles advanced to the World Series against the Pittsburgh Pirates, who defeated them in seven games.

Hampered by a knee injury, he was 12-4 for the 1983 Orioles, who went on capture the World Series, defeating the Philadelphia Phillies in five games.

Michael Kendall Flanagan was born on Dec. 16, 1951, in Manchester, N.H. After pitching at the University of Massachusetts, he was the Orioles’ seventh-round draft pick in 1973, then made his major league debut with them in September 1975.

Flanagan was known for his dry wit, in evidence when he reflected on the tough fans at Yankee Stadium. “I could never play in New York,” he was quoted as saying in 1979. “The first time I ever came into a game there, I got in the bullpen car and they told me to lock the doors.”

Flanagan pitched for Baltimore until August 1987, when he was traded to the Toronto Blue Jays. He remained with them through 1990. He completed his career by pitching two more seasons for the Orioles.

In October 1991, he became the last Orioles player to throw a pitch at the team’s Memorial Stadium before it moved to Camden Yards. At his request, he entered the game during the ninth inning and struck out the last two Detroit Tiger batters, though the Orioles lost.

“The stadium was where I spent the best days of my life,” he told The Baltimore Sun afterward. Relying mainly on breaking balls, Flanagan had a career record of 167-143 and was an All-Star in 1978, when he won 19 games.

Flanagan joined the Orioles’ front office in December 2002 after four seasons as a team broadcaster and two one-year stints as the team’s pitching coach. The team did not have a general manager during his executive tenure, but as a vice president he performed many of the duties associated with that post through 2008.

In addition to his wife, his survivors include his daughters, Kerry, Kathryn and Kendall.

Flanagan’s death became known during the Orioles’ game with the Twins on Wednesday night at Target Field in Minnesota. Jeremy Guthrie, who received Flanagan’s permission to wear his No. 46 jersey when he joined the Orioles in 2007, went seven innings Wednesday, pitching them to a 6-1 victory.

Afterward, Guthrie said he wanted to hear fan reaction before deciding whether he could best pay tribute to Flanagan by continuing to wear his number or by giving it up.

“Since the day I was given the No. 46,” he said in a statement on the Orioles’ Web site, “I’ve had thousands of people tell me that that was the number of their favorite pitcher for the Orioles when they were growing up.”

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