I knew Mike Flanagan for the better part of the last 30 years. I never really socialized with him, but we had lots of conversations about baseball, and we did some radio together. His departure from this earth at such a young age is a tremendous loss for many, many people.
Most people who knew Mike likely have a specific memory or two, and I'm no different. My first one is in Cooperstown, N.Y., in the summer of 1983. Brooks Robinson was being inducted into the Hall of Fame and the Orioles were playing in the annual Hall of Fame Game, which in those days was played induction weekend. The Orioles had arrived in town and had changed into their uniforms and were given some time to see the museum if they wished. I was inside the museum at the time, and I noticed Flanny in front of one of the exhibits. Now keep this picture in mind, adult male in full uniform - sans shoes, he was in his socks - walking through the museum. At the same time, there were a lot of fans also wearing jerseys and wandering around. I'm chatting with Mike and a fan walks up and says, "Excuse me, but aren't you ..." Before he could finish his question Flanny said "No, no, I'm just a big fan." I remember asking him if he saw Cooperstown in his own future and he said something to the effect that he'd be paying his way in like everyone else after he retired.
My other specific memory was of a Saturday, roughly nine to 10 years ago, when I was co-hosting a radio show with Tom Davis on 1300 AM in Baltimore. Tom was going to be out of town that day, and Flanny sat in for him. He brought with him his baseball scrapbook from high school, with old newspaper clippings about his exploits on the diamond. He knew I'd enjoy seeing it, and dug it out and brought it in, just for my benefit.
There's been a lot of loose speculation - mostly online - regarding the cause of Mike's death. Baltimore County Police are still investigating, and it does no one any good to guess or presume anything concrete at the moment. It's a very sad occasion for everyone who's been connected to the Orioles for any length of time. Mike Flanagan provided so many big moments for fans in the mid-Atlantic region. Let's try and dwell on the good times.