Ex-Blue Jay Flanagan found dead at 59
Mike Flanagan, the crafty left-hander who won the 1979 Cy Young Award with the Baltimore Orioles, was found dead on his property Wednesday afternoon. He was 59.
The former pitcher was reportedly found dead on a pathway on his Monkton, Md., residence. The cause of death was not immediately known.
Flanagan went 167-143 in 526 career appearances with a 3.90 earned-run average in 18 seasons in the majors, but his first three full seasons as a starter rank favourably with the best career starts ever for a pitcher as he strung together 57 wins over that span.
After retiring in 1992 as a member of the Orioles, he was rarely far from the club again. He spent time variously as the team's pitching coach, executive vice president in the front office and as a team broadcaster.
Flanagan with Blue Jays
Mike Flanagan was traded to Toronto from Baltimore for Jose Mesa and Oswaldo Peraza late in 1987 and thrust into a pennant race.
Toronto lost its final seven games to finish two back of Detroit in the AL East, with Flanagan pitching a gutsy 11 innings in a final weekend start that the Blue Jays lost in 12.
Flanagan went 26-27 overall in 76 regular-season appearances over three seasons with Toronto and lost his lone playoff start to Oakland in the 1989 ALCS.
He returned to Baltimore as a free agent in 1991 and threw the final pitch at Memorial Stadium, the Orioles' home from 1954-1991.
"It is with deep sadness that I learned of the death of my friend Mike Flanagan earlier this evening," Orioles managing partner Peter Angelos said in a statement. "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."
Flanagan went 23-9 with a 3.08 ERA in his hallmark 1979 campaign. He tallied five shutouts and racked up 16 complete games.
Never known as an overpowering pitcher, the six-foot hurler achieved a career high 190 strikeouts that season. Flanagan then went 1-1 in two World Series assignments that autumn as the Orioles fell to the Pittsburgh Pirates.
He received consideration for AL MVP, finishing sixth in the voting.
After making his major league debut in 1975, the Manchester, N.H., native cracked Baltimore's roster to stay the following season, in which he spent time as both a starter and reliever. He then won a total of 34 games on a deep Baltimore staff over the next two campaigns, and was picked for the 1978 all-star game.
Flanagan's Cy Young was one of five to go to Oriole pitchers in an eight-year span beginning in 1973. Jim Palmer won the first three, while Steve Stone followed Flanagan by taking the honour in 1980.
Flanagan never did reach the lofty statistical numbers of 1979 again, but used different speeds and pitches to go over 15 wins on two more occasions.
Off to a 6-0 start in 1983, he then hit the disabled list for months with torn knee ligaments suffered while fielding a routine grounder.
Flanagan also contended with a bout of arm soreness that year, but still managed to finish 12-4 to lead up to the most recent of Baltimore's three baseball championships.
He was the winning pitcher as the Orioles went ahead to stay in Game 3 of the 1983 American League championship series against Chicago. He had a no-decision in Game 3 of the World Series, in which Baltimore would prevail over Philadelphia.
"I am so sorry to hear about Mike's passing. He was a good friend and teammate," said a member of that championship team, Hall of Fame third baseman Cal Ripken Jr. " … Mike was an Oriole through and through and he will be sorely missed by family, friends and fans. This is a sad day."
For his part, Palmer called the news "devastating" Wednesday night after working Baltimore's win over Minnesota as a broadcaster.
During that last sustained period of Orioles' greatness, Flanagan and his first wife Kathy made headlines off the field in 1982 with the birth of their daughter Kerry, one of the first babies in the U.S. to be born from in vitro fertilization.
Flanagan finished below .500 in each of the next three seasons beginning in 1984, years marked by more injury woes.
He was traded to Toronto late in the 1987 season for Jose Mesa and Oswaldo Peraza.
With files from The Associated Press