As a lifelong fan of the Baltimore Orioles it was such sad news hearing that one of the long-time faces of the O’s, Mike Flanagan, passed away this week at the age of 59. It was even sadder hearing that his death was result of a suicide.
Regardless of the circumstance of his death, Flanagan will be fondly remembered by Oriole fans for his performance as a player, broadcaster and member of the local community.
From the 1960s through the mid-1980s the Orioles were the most consistently successful team in Major League Baseball thanks to a focus on building through the minor league system, pitching and defense. Known as the “Oriole Way”, this focus resulted in three World Championships, six World Series appearances and 18 straight winning seasons.
A seventh round draft pick of the Orioles in 1973, Flanagan epitomized the Orioles during their era of success. As a homegrown product, he made his major league debut in 1975 and moved into the starting rotation in 1977.
After a 15-10 record in 1977, Flanagan won 19 games and was named to the All-Star squad in 1978.
In 1979, Flanagan replaced Jim Palmer as the ace of the Orioles’ pitching staff and won the American League Cy Young Award with a 23-9 record and 3.08 ERA. Baltimore reached the World Series that season and Flanagan went 1-1 as the O’s lost in seven games.
Over the next five seasons, Flanagan went 65-47 as the Orioles remained competitive in the American League East.
During the 1983 season, Flanagan was limited to 20 starts, but posted a 12-4 record with a 3.30 ERA as Baltimore won the division and claimed the World Series title for the first time since 1970.
Traded to the Toronto Blue Jays in 1987, Flanagan spent three and a half years in Toronto before returning to the Orioles in 1991. He was the last Baltimore pitcher to record an out at Memorial Stadium.
He completed his career with a 167-143 record and 3.90 career ERA.
After retiring in 1992, Flanagan served as a pitching coach for the Orioles as well as broadcaster and member of the front office.
Overall, he spent more than 30 years with the Orioles and will always be remembered fondly by Baltimore fans.
His passing is certainly a sad occasion, but hopefully over time what will be remembered about Flanagan is his positive contributions to the Baltimore community and his legacy as one of the true Birds of Baltimore.