7 Great Mike Flanagan Stories

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By Jody Madron

Just a little over five years ago — on August 24, 2011 — we lost the great Mike Flanagan.

Not only was Flanagan one of the best pitchers in the history of the Orioles, he was also one of the most entertaining storytellers.

So as we look back and remember Flanny, here are seven stories — either by or about Mike Flanagan — that should make us smile:

1. Mike Flanagan on Dennis Martinez (in the minor leagues):

“Dennis weighed maybe 135 pounds soaking wet. You could put your thumb and index finger together and go around his biceps…But he didn’t speak any English, and the manager would go to the mound to talk to him, and Dennis would just nod yes to everything. ‘How do you feel? Do you feel pretty good? Are you tired?’ Dennis would just continue to nod and then get taken out of the game and get all upset and say, ‘I didn’t want to come out of the game; I was just nodding yes.’”

(Source: From 33rd Street to Camden Yards by John Eisenberg)

2. Mike Flanagan on former Blue Jays teammate Phil Niekro:

(As told by Tim Kurkjian)

My favorite Flanagan story came in Toronto in 1987. He was driving to Exhibition Stadium with former teammate Mike Boddicker in a Blue Jays rental car, one with the Blue Jays’ insignia splattered all over it. New players to the team drove these rentals until their own cars arrived. Flanagan spotted me as I was walking to the ballpark, lugging my computer and oversized bag of books. He gave me a ride.

“This was Phil Niekro’s car,” Flanagan said of the ancient pitcher who had just been released.

“How do you know it was his car?” I asked.

“I found his teeth in the glove compartment,” he said.

No one made me laugh like Mike Flanagan.

(Source: http://www.espn.com/mlb/story/_/id/6894031/mlb-cy-young-winner-mike-flanagan-1951-2011)

3. Mike Flanagan on Earl Weaver:

“There were games when the pitcher would throw balls on the first two pitches of the game, and he’d be going, ‘Oh, here we go; I’m going to have a rough one tonight.’ I had games later in my career, when I knew him well enough, where I’d sit down [in the dugout after warming up], and he’d look at me, and he’d talk to the rest of the team and say, ‘Boys, we’re going to need a bunch of runs tonight.’ It’s funny now. It wasn’t so funny then. It was like, ‘Oh, yeah, really? I’ll show you.’ And you’d go out and dig deeper.”

(Source: From 33rd Street to Camden Yards by John Eisenberg)

4. Jim Palmer on Mike Flanagan’s early time with the Orioles:

“Mike pitched a game in Kansas City the day we traded Ken Holtzman for Scott McGregor and Tippy Martinez and Rick Dempsey. (George) Brett hit a home run into the waterfall.  Every time Mike would bring his hands up (to deliver a pitch), they’d steal a base.”

“So we come back to Baltimore and Earl Weaver’s watching him throw on the sideline and Mike’s just throwing. And all of a sudden Mike throws and Earl just takes off. Then Earl says, ‘You’re not paying attention; I just stole second base.’”

“And Mike looked at him and he said, ‘How’d you ever get on?’”

(source: Youtube clip of MASN postgame from August 24, 2011)

5. From Flanagan’s early days as a broadcaster:

“When the O.J. Simpson trial was something current, Flanagan was on HTS for a game in Cleveland. At that time, the Indians had a pitcher named Chad Ogea, pronounced oh-jay. As the camera panned across the bullpen during the course of the game, he caught sight of Ogea leaning against a chain-link fence. ‘Looks like Ogea’s finally in the pen,’ he cracked.”

“As he related it to us years later, he said he knew right away that might have been a bad joke, but he couldn’t stop himself, and he continued to make jokes, including gems such as, ‘I wonder if his glove fits.’ He was praying for the inning to end so he wouldn’t keep going and get fired.”

(source: http://www.camdenchat.com/2014/2/24/5441444/mike-flanagan-orioles-top-40-greatest)

6. On Holding Baserunners (and Earl Weaver):

(As told by Peter Gammons)

The night before, the Angels had stolen a bunch of bases against the Orioles, so Earl Weaver ordered the pitchers to report to The Big A by 2:30 the next afternoon. At 3 p.m., Weaver lined them all up as baserunners on first. Earl stood at the front of the mound, Rick Dempsey was positioned in front of home plate, someone was playing infielder at second.

No one breaks for second until I let go of the ball,” Weaver bellowed. The idea was obvious. No one could get a running lead. Naturally, each pitcher then had no chance with Dempsey throwing from in front of the plate. Do a better job holding the runners. Get it?

One by one, each pitcher was thrown out by Dempsey in this faux steal situation, for three rounds. When the final pitcher was thrown out at the end of the third round, Weaver gathered them around the mound.

“OK, what did we learn today?” Earl asked.

Mike Flanagan raised his hand. “Next spring,” he replied, “we’d better work on our leads.”

All the pitchers broke up laughing. Weaver stalked off to the clubhouse.

Source: (http://m.mlb.com/news/article/23728786//)

7. Mike Flanagan on the spitball:

(As told by Peter Gammons)

Flanagan was born to play baseball. His grandfather Ed was a legend in New Hampshire. Legend has it that Christy Matthewson’s first game was against Big Ed. A team from Southeastern Massachusetts used to barnstorm New England small towns playing the New Hampshire All-Stars; a battery from Cohasset, Mass. named Everett Gammons and Bill Enos (whose son recently retired after a long scouting career would pitch each end of the doubleheaders, and Big Ed Flanagan would pitch both games against them — one right-handed, one left-handed.

“(Ed) pitched when the spitball was legal,” says Flanagan. “So when I started in Little League, he took me into the basement and handed me a box of slippery elm tablets. He showed me how to use them to throw a spitter. Of course, I wanted no part of listening to him, I thought I didn’t need it. Many a night I stood on the mound thinking, ‘I wish I’d listened to grandpa.’ ”

(Source: http://www.espn.com/gammons/s/2002/1217/1478523.html)

 

 

 

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