MASN’s Pete Kerzel published this article last week about the new Mike Flanagan Scholarship Fund that’s being created in honor of the former Baltimore Orioles pitcher, executive, and broadcaster. As we all remember, Flanagan tragically took his own life in August of 2011. The program is set up so that one varsity baseball player from Manchester Memorial High School in Manchester, NH (Flanagan’s alma mater) will receive a full college scholarship. The student-athlete will have had to exemplify a hard work ethic and have progressed through the Manchester area’s youth baseball programs. A second scholarship will be awarded to a Manchester graduating senior who is planning to pursue an education at the collegiate level in the field of mental health or suicide prevention.
This is a win-win for all involved, and several former Oriole players and members of the organization have already donated money to the scholarship. I’ll be very honest, the whole series of events surrounding Flanagan’s death still don’t sit well with me from the perspective of the Orioles. I want to think that the organization kind of glossed over that event and kind of kept on churning. Please keep in mind that it’s entirely possible that the Flanagan family asked that the team not make a big deal out of it or something along those lines, so in fairness I can’t be too hard
on the Orioles…
…but, the fact is that Mike Flanagan meant a lot to the fans of the team and the people of Baltimore. I would submit that there are few athletes who could truly adopt a city totally foreign to them as their own. Flanagan wasn’t from Baltimore, nor did he have ties to the area. But he became a part of the Baltimore landscape, much in the tradition of Jim Palmer, Brooks Robinson, and Johnny Unitas. (One might also put current Oriole center fielder Adam Jones in that category as well.) There have been few instances where I’ve seen people mourning the loss of what amounts to a total stranger the way that Baltimore honored Flanagan after his death. It’s somewhat comparable to the brutal murder of Washington Redskins safety Sean Taylor in 2007. However ultimately I would submit that Orioles fans would like to see some sort of further recognition of Flanagan moving forward.
The scholarship is one step, although that’s not something that’s being headed by the team per se. It would be so easy to sit here and write that they should retire his number 46, or something along those lines. However Mike Flanagan himself would be the first to tell you (probably in his self-deprecating “New England charm” type of way) that his numbers aren’t worthy or retiring his number. So given that Flanagan spent two stints as a commentator after his playing days were over, could they not name the Camden Yards press box the “Mike Flanagan Memorial Press Level” or something along those lines?
That’s just one idea, and again I do recognize that there’s every chance that the Flanagan family has asked the team not to partake in anything formal of that type. If that is indeed the case, then I certainly respect their wishes. However if not, I think the Orioles owe it to the fans of the team to do something along those lines. While the press box thing might sound a bit corny, the Washington Nationals have formally dedicated the press box at Nationals Park in honor of the late Shirley Povich, one of the greatest sports writers of all time. (A well-deserved honor for Povich in my view.) Incidentally there’s also a slight precedent for this at the yard; the right field flag court is known as Eli Jacobs Plaza, in honor of the former owner of the team.
While I recognize that you can’t do something along those lines for every former player who passes away, I would submit that in Flanagan’s case it would be warranted. Nevertheless, the scholarship is a good cause and it’ll help future generations of kids in Flanagan’s home community to prosper long after his death. If you’d like to donate to the scholarship fund, please send all donations to:
The Mike Flanagan Scholarship Fund
c/o Ed Flanagan, Account Administrator
St. Mary’s Bank
234 Elm Street
Manchester, NH 03101