Saying Goodbye to Flanny
I never got to meet Mike Flanagan. I have no stories about Flanagan, no interesting anecdotes about him, just the lingering emotional attachment that comes with rooting for a sports team when you’re a little kid. I was born in 1978, so I was too young to remember Mike Flanagan at his best as a pitcher. But he was a part of the first sports team I was old enough to follow over the course of an entire season, the 1983 Orioles. It was a pretty good year to become a fan, this being the last time the O’s won the World Series. But when you’re 5 and fascinated by something new and exciting, it doesn’t matter if that thing is the best around. I have fond memories of the Dukes of Hazzard, too, but nobody would think the adventures of the Duke boys stemmed from the pen of Virgil. Though Rosco P. Coltrane’s character had some complexities that weren’t fully explored…
I’m not noted for being an emotional sports fan, but it’s hard for me to be objective when it comes to the 1983 or 1989 Orioles. Mike Boddicker and Mickey Tettleton hold a certain attachment to me that no Nobel Peace Prize winner could ever replace. It’s curious how we root for laundry, but I’m no philosopher - the psychology of fandom is pretty darn complex.
I was lucky and got to see the final game at Memorial Stadium. I was a little older and more cynical (13 by this point) and while I remember the day being mild, pleasant, and with a nice breeze, I wouldn’t be surprised to find out if it was actually 85 degrees and muggy, a typical Baltimore June-to-October day. Or that there was a snowstorm. We tend to get details of our fondest memories bass-ackwards, the emotional charge of the moment probably overwhelms the logical collection of facts. Probably some brain thing - I took physics as my science in college and the extent of my biological knowledge consists of don’t drink poison and generally how babies are made.
Mike Flanagan was brought out to finish that game, and the crowd figuratively went apeshit about the whole thing. Eddie Murray was already long gone at this point and Flanagan, along with Cal Ripken, was one of the last connections to my first season as a baseball fan that was still around in Baltimore. Flanagan finished up the game, but I have no recollection of how he actually pitched. It was irrelevant to the moment.
I didn’t know Mike Flanagan. He wasn’t a family member or a co-worker or an acquaintance or even someone I’ve ever interviewed or written an article about. So while I’m bummed from hearing about Flanagan’s death, my feelings of sadness aren’t just for him, they’re also for myself. As someone who followed baseball intensely as a kid (and still do, both as hobby and vocation), seeing Flanagan go, before he was “supposed to” is like having yet another piece of my childhood die. Selfish as that feeling may be, raw feelings don’t tend to display the most altruistic tendencies. Rest in peace, Flanny, and thank you for making my life a little bit better while you were here.
Posted: August 25, 2011 at 01:59 AM | 27 comment(s)
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