Orioles: Former Pitcher Flanagan Found Dead

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… County police say investigation continuing, body not identified …

By Justin Fenton and Dan Connolly, The Baltimore Sun

12:29 AM EDT, August 25, 2011

Former Orioles pitcher Mike Flanagan, a Cy Young Award winner who became a face of the franchise as a television announcer and top executive, died Wednesday afternoon, according to the Orioles.

A Baltimore County police spokeswoman said police received a 911 call at 4:26 p.m. reporting a death in the 15000 block of York Road in Sparks. Officers found a man’s body on a trail leading to a barn, according to spokeswoman Elise Armacost.

Armacost said police had not confirmed that the body was that of Flanagan, 59, a New Hampshire native, and said the investigation was continuing.

Word of Flanagan’s death spread quickly in baseball circles, with many associates wishing to pay tribute.

“It’s just shock right now,” said former Orioles catcher Rick Dempsey. “I know everybody that played with him loved him. … 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.”

“I don’t know the circumstances of his death,” said Oriole Hall of Fame pitcher Jim Palmer. “I don’t know that anyone does yet, but whatever it is, it’s a tremendous loss any time you lose somebody like Mike.

“Mike was such a unique guy, talented, witty, funny,” Palmer said. “You are not ready to lose someone like Mike Flanagan. But on the other side, I feel lucky to be part of the organization and have had him as a friend and a confidant and buddy, and see all facets of him.”

Orioles owner Peter Angelos said in a statement, “It is with deep sadness that I learned of the death of my friend Mike Flanagan earlier this evening. 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. His loss will be felt deeply and profoundly by all of us with the ballclub and by Orioles fans everywhere who admired him. On behalf of the club, I extend my condolences to his wife, Alex; and daughters Kerry, Kathryn and Kendall.”

Fellow Oriole Cal Ripken Jr. said in a statement: “I am so sorry to hear about Mike’s passing. He was a good friend and teammate and our thoughts are with Alex and his family. Mike was an Oriole through and through and he will be sorely missed by family, friends and fans. This is a sad day.”

Orioles manager Buck Showalter, who got word in the middle of Wednesday night’s game, said, “Mike made a point of making me feel welcomed from Day One. I always looked forward to him coming in and sitting down and drinking coffee with me, and not only talking about baseball but talking about life. He was a passionate man about the Orioles and family, and he impacted a lot of people’s lives, not just by the way he pitched but [as] someone our organization has always been proud of not only for the way he pitched but the way he treated people.”

Orioles pitcher Jeremy Guthrie said, “I think he was so close to so many people in this organization and he has touched the lives of countless thousands of people in the Baltimore community and in the baseball world.”

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.

Property records show Flanagan and his wife purchased the 10.5-acre property in 1997 for $525,000.

Flanagan, who was in his second year as a color analyst for the Mid-Atlantic Sports Network, 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 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 American League 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 him to the Toronto Blue Jays in August 1987, for pitchers Oswaldo Peraza and Jose Mesa.

He returned to the Orioles in 1991 as a 39-year-old free agent, spending the last two seasons of his playing career pitching in relief.

Flanagan was the last Oriole to pitch at Memorial Stadium, entering the game against the Detroit Tigers on Oct. 6, 1991, with one out in the ninth inning. He struck out Dave Bergman and Travis Fryman.

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.

Baltimore Sun reporter Jessica Anderson contributed to this article.

justin.fenton@baltsun.com

dan.connolly@baltsun.com

Copyright © 2011, The Baltimore Sun

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