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The Associated Press says long-time Baltimore Orioles pitcher and former Blue Jay Mike Flanagan was found dead outside his Maryland home yesterday.  He was 59.

Mike Flanagan was a member of the Blue Jays from 1987 to 1990.

Mike Flanagan arrived on the major league scene with the Baltimore Orioles in 1975, just two years after being drafted in the seventh round out of the University of Massachusetts Amherst.  Beginning in 1977, the lefty rattled off double-digit victory seasons in seven of the next eight campaigns with the strike-shortened 1981 campaign being the only exception when he won 9 games.  He was an All-Star in 1978 but his best season came in 1979 when he won 23 games and the American League Cy Young award.  Flanagan won two of his three starts in the post-season as the Orioles beat the Angels in the ALCS before losing to the 'We Are Family' Pittsburgh Pirates in the World Series.  He would earn a World Series ring in 1983 by getting a victory in the ALCS against the White Sox before Baltimore beat Philadelphia in the Fall Classic.

Flanagan stayed with Baltimore until August 31, 1987 when the Blue Jays acquired him for pitchers Oswaldo Peraza and Josť Mesa.  Flanagan won his first three starts with the Jays and pitched his heart out in his final start of the season when he lasted 11 innings against the Detroit Tigers on the penultimate day of the season.  However, the Tigers pulled it out in the 12th inning and went on to snatch the AL East flag from under the Blue Jays noses.  Flanagan re-signed with the Jays and went 13-13 in 1988 before helping the Jays get back to the playoffs in 1989 by going 8-10 with a 3.93 earned run average. Flanagan's lone start in the ALCS did not go well as he surrendered a 500-level blast to Josť Canseco in Game 4 as Oakland went on to win the ALCS in five games before winning the World Series.

Flanagan was released by Toronto early in the 1990 campaign.  He would return to Baltimore in 1991 and stayed there until his final season in 1992.  Flanagan remained in the Orioles family by working in the front office and in the broadcast booth.  ESPN's Tim Kurkjian shares his memories of Flanagan.

Condolences to the family and friends of Mike Flanagan.
RIP Mike Flanagan | 13 comments | Create New Account
The following comments are owned by whomever posted them. This site is not responsible for what they say.
John Northey - Thursday, August 25 2011 @ 10:08 AM EDT (#242233) #
Very sad. I feel for his family and friends. Having lost my sister this year (age 51) I know how much pain it causes when someone dies too young. When someone is in their 50's you assume there will be at least 15-20 more years. You never expect to find out that the last time you talked with them will have been the last time.

Flanagan was by all accounts a stand up guy who was loved by many. He seemed to be a real class act here in Toronto during his brief period and almost saved the 1987 season for the Jays. That is how I'll remember him - class & quality.
katman - Thursday, August 25 2011 @ 12:53 PM EDT (#242263) #
He might have had those 15-20 years, but by many accounts was depressed at the state of the Orioles while he was GM, and the community's attribution of fault for that. Reports say it was a suicide. Argh.

China fan - Thursday, August 25 2011 @ 01:33 PM EDT (#242277) #
Katman, this is the second post in which you've claimed that Flanagan committed suicide because of the poor performance of the Orioles.  First of all, Flanagan hasn't had a front-office job with the Orioles since 2008.  He's a broadcaster.  (And if broadcasters killed themselves because of the poor performance of their teams, we would have seen a lot more before now.)   But much more importantly, depression cannot be attributed to a single external cause.  Depression is far more complex than that.  Depression is a result of multiple psychological factors, which can usually be traced back decades.   It is far too simplistic (and unfair) to suggest that Flanagan was depressed about the Orioles and therefore killed himself.
Magpie - Thursday, August 25 2011 @ 02:41 PM EDT (#242298) #
The Baltimore Sun is reporting that it was a self-inflicted gunshot wound. A lousy, lousy ending. As endings often are.

Flanagan spent some time with the Jays, of course - no one who saw it will forget either his 11 inning duel with Jack Morris on the final weekend, or the home run Canseco hit against him in the 1989 playoffs (first ball to hit the fifth level at the Dome.) But he was mainly an Oriole, of course, at the centre of Weaver's second great group of starters. He was, first and foremost, a gamer. He took the ball every four days and battled, with his ordinary fastball, his curve, and a whole lot of guile and guts. The game ran deep in his blood - he was a third generation ballplayer, although he was the first of his clan to succeed as a pro.

In the late 1970s, Flanagan and his first wife tried repeatedly to start a family. His wife had several miscarriages. Their doctors recommended a hysterectomy and suggested they think about adopting. The Flanagans elected to wait and see if medical advances would eventually offer another alternative. In 1982, Kathy Flanagan had the world's fourth test-tube baby, and the first that was delivered naturally (not by Caesarean section.)
jerjapan - Thursday, August 25 2011 @ 03:11 PM EDT (#242307) #
Sorry to hear about your loss, John, and sorry to hear about Flanagan.

The late 80s was the era that birthed my Jay's love of today, and I still think fondly back to those first teams I was passionate about.  I remember the deal to get Flanagan, the 4 lefty starters in the rotation (88?) and the Canseco upper deck homer in the playoffs quite clearly. 

Flanagan seemed like a good guy, and the implication that the pressures of running a MLB team may have contributed to / caused this just adds another layer of sadness to a tragic loss.

RIP, Mike. 

Thomas - Thursday, August 25 2011 @ 04:42 PM EDT (#242328) #
China Fan, that was a great post, although I think you are being a bit harsh on katman. While I would caution against drawing definitive conclusions from preliminary news reports, several sources are reporting, right now at least, that Flanagan's suicide may be linked to some combination of the Orioles, his performance as GM and their performance on the field. He is not reporting rumours (or at least ones that are not being reported in several other legitimate places).

That being said, the rest of your post is dead-on. Suicide is a complex phenomenon that doesn't reduce to one cause. His role with the Orioles may have played a factor in Flanagan's decision, but there would have to be a mix of other factors involved - be it clinical depression, some other mental health condition or other personal disappointments or tragedies - for someone to kill themselves. Particularly a man who is described as being as friendly, kind and devoted to his family as Flanagan reportedly was.
China fan - Thursday, August 25 2011 @ 05:00 PM EDT (#242335) #

My apologies if I sounded harsh, didn't intend to be.

Just to elaborate slightly on what I'm trying to say:  Flanagan's depression may have been externally triggered by a feeling that he failed in his job -- but the "failure" is not the cause of his depression, because most people don't respond to those problems like he did.  Most people are subjected to "failures" in their life without responding as he did.  Many people are subjected to heavy criticism without responding as he did.  Athletes and GMs are routinely criticized by hordes of fans for every mistake they make, and the vast majority just shrug it off.  It was something in Flanagan himself, some combination of complex factors, that led to his reaction and his eventual depression.  Quite possibly he had suffered from periods of depression throughout his life, and it was more recently exacerbated by a feeling of personal disappointment in his front-office career.

So I'm not suggesting that there is zero connection between his job and his depression -- I'm just saying that it was something within Flanagan himself that shaped his reaction to the job stresses.  And the fact that his depression apparently grew worse in 2011, fully three years AFTER he left the GM's job, again lessens the likelihood that it was a DIRECT reaction to the GM's job, but more likely a product of how he personally processed those feelings.

Glevin - Thursday, August 25 2011 @ 07:04 PM EDT (#242343) #
Thanks China Fan for good posts about suicide. It is rarely a singular factor and even when those factors exist, a person's make-up, and chemistry still has a lot to do with it. We all love simple facts and simple explanations even if they are rarely true. The Baltimore Sun is reporting that he had been upset about financial issues.
katman - Thursday, August 25 2011 @ 07:08 PM EDT (#242344) #
China Fan,

I have a more than casual acquaintance with this subject. And no, I didn't say he died because the Orioles are performing poorly. But reports did say that others had noticed that the issue of how his term as GM was perceived locally was wearing on him.

For someone with a psychotic mental illnesses, cause and effect can be disconnected in ways that the rest of us can't even understand. But it is fair to say that even a mildly depressive individual can fasten on things that are not, themselves, enough to justify the reaction. Which, in turn, feeds it further.

At the same time, anyone who has even a causal acquaintance with sports fandom knows where criticism can go. It couldn't hurt for us to remember that the people we talk in sports are people, and consider whether we would say the things to say if a real person was standing in front of us.

It may also be a good reminder that depression can be more than just a passing mood, and if someone you care for appears to be in that state, treat it seriously.

That wouldn't be the worst twin legacy for a classy guy Flanagan to leave, however tragically
China fan - Thursday, August 25 2011 @ 07:24 PM EDT (#242346) #

....It couldn't hurt for us to remember that the people we talk in sports are people, and consider whether we would say the things to say if a real person was standing in front of us....

Excellent point.  The vitriol among some sports fans can be amazing.

China fan - Thursday, August 25 2011 @ 07:42 PM EDT (#242347) #

....The Baltimore Sun is reporting that he had been upset about financial issues....

Thanks for noticing this.  It helps us understand the complexity of the reasons for his suicide -- so many factors were at work, including external factors but especially internal factors.

TamRa - Friday, August 26 2011 @ 01:01 AM EDT (#242361) #
It couldn't hurt for us to remember that the people we talk in sports are people, and consider whether we would say the things to say if a real person was standing in front of us.

Hear. Hear.
truefan - Friday, August 26 2011 @ 12:06 PM EDT (#242399) #
It would be interesting to see if this issue gets developed and discussed rationally in the Baltimore press.  It is no secret that the GM role at Baltimore has been complicated with the interventionist ownership of Peter Angelos.  Did you recall that when Gillick at Cooperstown was giving his verbal tour of his string of successes at Toronto, Seattle, Balt and Philly that he reserved the fewest compliments to the organization relating to his time at Baltimore -- likely due to the circumstances surrounding his departure (in 1998, i believe).   Baltimore has, especially since 1998, managed consistently to get the least outcomes for one of the biggest payrolls in baseball -- up often with the Mets for the 'honor' of getting the least for most.  Hence i would think that of all the GM positions in baseball, people would understand that the hands of the Orioles GM might well be tied.  Maybe the fans in Baltimore bleachers see it differently, but i wouldn't think that many baseball types would hold blame any GM for results in Baltimore -- let alone a smart and well-liked baseball guy like Flanagan -- as long as Angelos is owner.  I gotta hope that Mike understood that, at least on good days.
RIP Mike Flanagan | 13 comments | Create New Account
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