The death of former Oriole and MASN analyst Mike Flanagan is something that I won’t ever forget. As I’ve said previously, I never had the pleasure of meeting
Flanny, but based upon the reactions of his MASN associates Amber Theoharis, Rick Dempsey, Jim Palmer, Jim Hunter, and Tom Davis that night (along with the other things I’d heard about Flanagan), I think he was probably a wonderful man. That aside, Jim Palmer was probably his closest teammate on the Orioles, and according to SBNation, Jim Palmer’s tearful eulogy on the MASN postgame show that night was ranked as the #1 sportscasting moment of 2011.
This is a ranking of sportscasting moments nationwide and in all sports, not only for the Orioles or even only for baseball. It goes without saying that Jim
Palmer is a true legend of the game. Therefore the fact that his reaction was so
genuine and so down to earth probably goes a long way towards explaining why this moment was given this distinction.It goes past that as well. As is the case for most Oriole games I worked twitter that night during the game. The news of a body being found on Flanagan’s property had broken at about 6:30 that night if my memory serves me (the game started at 8 PM). Nobody on the MASN pregame show or Palmer and Jim Hunter (who were calling the game in Minnesota that night) made any mention of the situation, so many people wondered if they were aware of the situation. Sometime early in the game (second or third inning) I started seeing news outlets tweeting that they had confirmed that the body was in fact Mike Flanagan’s.
It’s unclear when and how Palmer and Hunter were told of this unspeakable tragedy, however it was sometime during the last 60-90 minutes of the game.
Again, many people wondered if they knew, and everyone agreed that if they did know they were doing a great job of masking it. The Orioles won that night,
which probably did a lot towards helping them keep a lighthearted tone. I don’t think that anyone would have blamed Jim Palmer in the least for excusing himself and leaving the broadcast booth given how close he was to Mike Flanagan. However the show must go on…
…to a certain point. Palmer is being recognized by SBNation because of his
reaction on the O’s Xtra postgame show. However that’s not possible if not for
his virtuoso performance (along with Jim Hunter) during the game at masking what he already knew. A lot of people don’t care for Jim Palmer in the booth because at times he can be a bit outward with a lot of his accomplishments. I would argue that if you’ve done the things that he’s done at the level he did them,
you might have the right to say some of those things. However at that moment I think we saw who Jim Palmer really is. Furthermore and more importantly, I think we saw the kinship that existed between Palmer and Mike Flanagan.
Palmer was already on his way to being one of the greatest pitchers that ever lived when Mike Flanagan came up in 1975. But he took Flanny under his wing and showed him the ropes not only of pitching at the big league level, but of life as well. We should all be so lucky to have someone like that who we can call a
mentor and a friend. All of that and all of those memories were what was behind that very candid couple of minutes on MASN that night.
There’s no doubt that Jim Palmer had no intention of being thought of as the top sportscasting moment of 2011 (according to SBNation), and I’m sure that he’d gladly return the honor if he could have only five minutes back with his friend. But it goes to show you
that the best moments in our lives where we show who we truly can be are not
scripted. Kudos Jim Palmer.
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