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Orioles Great Mike Flanagan Found Dead Near Sparks Home

Multiple media outlets reporting the former Cy Young winner committed suicide.

UPDATE (1:10 P.M.)—Former Orioles pitcher and executive Mike Flanagan died from an apparant self-inflicted gunshot wound to the face, according to the Baltimore Sun.

Flanagan was found dead Wednesday outside his home in rural Baltimore County near Sparks, according to Orioles officials. He was 59.

WBAL-TV also reported that Flanagan apparently killed himself.

Baltimore County police spokeswoman Elise Armacost said Thursday that investigators have not officially confirmed the body found on the property is Flanagan.

She only would confirm that police are continuing to examine the the circumstances surrounding the discovery of a deceased man found Wednesday afternoon on a property in the 15000 block of York Road near Sparks owned by Flanagan.  

In a news release, Armacost said police are waiting for a ruling from the medical examiner on the manner and cause of death. 

The Flanagan Family has asked for privacy in a statement released by the Orioles Thursday: "We thank you for your support and kind words at this difficult time. Thank you for respecting our privacy as we grieve."
 
The statement also said the family would hold a private memorial at a later date.

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Baltimore Orioles great Mike Flanagan was found dead Wednesday afternoon outside his home in northern Baltimore County, according to Orioles officials.

The impact of the Cy Young winner's death was immediately visible on MASN Wednesday night following the Orioles victory over the Minnesota Twins. Jim Palmer, the game's broadcaster and Flanagan's former teammate, called the evening's game despite having learned of his friend's death.

But following the game, Palmer cried during the post-game broadcast as he reflected on Flanagan's career.

"We were a family," Palmer said, tears filling his eyes. "It’s devastating."  

Also during the broadcast, commentator and teammate Rick Dempsey also cried as he discussed his friendship with Flanagan, who he said taught him how to fish for trout.

"He was a guy you could always rely on," Dempsey said.

But, he added, "He had a quiet side to him, where he wouldn't let you in."

As first reported by WBAL-TV, police found Flanagan's body shortly before 4:30 p.m. outside Flanagan's Sparks home in the 15000 block of York Road.

The body was found on a trail "some distance from the house," according to Baltimore County police spokeswoman Elise Armacost. She said police had not identified the victim, but team officials confirmed Flanagan's death.

Orioles coach Buck Showalter said during his post-game press conference that the team learned of Flanagan's death during the game.  

"We were just hoping and praying that something was erroneous," Showalter said during the press conference on television. "He’s impacted so many lives, including myself. I remember sitting in my office drinking coffee with him. It's tough."

The winning pitcher Wednesday night, Jeremy Guthrie, wears Flanagan's number, 46. Guthrie tweeted Wednesday night: "From day I was given #46 as Oriole, the fans always reminded me of the legacy Mike Flanagan left behind.This is a sad day for #Orioles family."

Orioles owner Peter Angelos released this statement Wednesday night: 

"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.”

Bill Stetka, a longtime public relations manager for the Orioles, told Patch in an interview that Flanagan "bled black and orange."

"He was one of the funniest guys I’ve ever known. Just a quick, dry sense of humor. He made in all the years I was traveling in PR, whether he was broadcasting or pitching coach or the general manager, he made it bearable with all the losses. He kept his sense of humor," Stetka said. "He was very introspective. I’m going to miss him."

Flanagan was a member of the 1983 World Series championship team, and in recent years served as a front office executive and television broadcaster for MASN.

Reached at his home at Wednesday night, longtime Baltimore sportscaster Vince Bagli was shocked by the news.

“I saw him last week. I was at the ballgame sunday a week ago,” Bagli said. “We exchanged ‘hellos’ and ‘how's it going’ and that kind of thing in the press room. I remember talking to him for just a minute or so.”

“That's a shame,” Bagli said.

Bagli recalled Flanagan's stellar 1979 season, calling him, "one of the outstanding left-handers" in Orioles history.

"I am so thankful for the last two years getting to spend a lot of time with Mike Flanagan," Orioles radio producer Casey Willett said in a Facebook post. "I have so many memories from traveling with him and team that I wil never forget."

Flanagan appeared in 526 games in 18 seasons, going 167-143 with a 3.90 ERA. He won 23 games for the Orioles in 1979, winning the American League Cy Young Award, voted on by the Baseball Writers’ Association of America as the best pitcher in the league.

Flanagan was named vice president for baseball operations on Dec. 4, 2002, working alongside Jim Beattie. He was promoted to executive vice president of baseball on Oct. 11, 2005, working closely with vice president Jim Duquette. With both partners, the job was a rare role that was viewed around baseball as a dual-general manager tandem.

He was elected to the Orioles Hall of Fame in 1994—his first year of eligibility. 

He was drafted in 1973, and debuted in 1975. After spending three-plus years in Toronto, he returned to Baltimore as a free agent in 1991, appearing in 63 games as a reliever—including Oct. 6, 1991, when he entered with one out and struck out two Tigers hitters before 50,700 fans in the final game at Memorial Stadium. He retired in 1992.

He was the Orioles pitching coach in 1995 before spending two years as a television analyst. He went back to the field in 1998, again as pitching coach, before spending four more years in the broadcast booth preceding his move to the front office.

Flanagan was born in Manchester, NH on Dec. 16, 1951. He pitched for the University of Massachusetts.

His grandfather, Ed Sr., and father, Ed Jr., played in the Red Sox organization. 

Flanagan lived in Sparks with his wife, Alex, and three daughters—Kerry, Kathryn and Kendall.

Cal Ripken Jr. released a statement last night that said: "Mike was an Oriole through and through and he'll be sorely missed by family, friends and fans. This is a sad day." 

Mike Gibbons, executive director of Sports Legends Museum & the Babe Ruth Birthplace also released a statement on the death of Flanagan.

"Everyone at Sports Legends Museum at Camden Yards and the Babe Ruth Birthplace was saddened to learn of the passing of Mike Flanagan," said Gibbons in a statement.

"He was a wonderful individual and a true Oriole who led by example, played the game with class and brought a lot of happiness to Orioles' fans over his career. He will be missed tremendously by so many people. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family during this difficult time."

AnnKangarouse August 25, 2011 at 01:31 PM
Did I miss something? After reading several comments here I re-read this article and didn't see anything mentioned about suicide...
Emily August 25, 2011 at 02:06 PM
Such a great loss!
Deskboy in Miami August 25, 2011 at 03:52 PM
A tragedy whenever someone dies, especially for his wife and children. May the love of Jesus carry him to eternal peace in heaven. No judgements please, he is in His arms now. Again, let's pray for him and his family.
Sharon J. Remeikis August 25, 2011 at 06:04 PM
As sad as this news is, Why I ask, would someone kill themselves? Did he have medical, financial or marital problems? Did he leave a note? Many questions we all need to know why. My deepest sympathies go out to his family and friends. May he RIP.
BJH August 25, 2011 at 09:32 PM
Peace to his family. Always

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