BALTIMORE (AP) — Mike Flanagan was remembered fondly and with no small measure of sadness at Camden Yards on Friday night before the Baltimore Orioles faced the New York Yankees.
It was the Orioles’ first home game since their former star pitcher died of a self-inflicted shotgun wound to the head on Wednesday. He was 59.
The team honored Flanagan with a moment of silence before the game. A picture of him in his playing days was displayed under the years he lived: 1951-2011. His No. 46 was displayed on the right-field scoreboard during batting practice and was to remain there until the end of the game.
Also, the No. 46 was placed under the broadcaster’s booth where he worked through the Orioles’ previous homestand.
Baltimore returned from Minnesota riding a four-game winning streak, but the mood was anything but festive.
“It was pretty appropriate that Friday night is when we wear our black jerseys,” Orioles manager Buck Showalter said.
“Mike brought a can of Oriole pine tar from 1960,” Showalter said. “I’m not sure exactly, where he ended up getting it. His wife found it. And it’s sitting on top of my desk there, and when I got back last night, first thing (I saw). I don’t think I’ll ever go get a cup of coffee back there, without thinking about it, thinking about him. No, it hasn’t gotten any easier. And I’m not trying to lose that emotion. It’s not something I’m trying to figure out a way to get around.”
Flanagan won the Cy Young award in 1979 with Baltimore and was a member of the Orioles’ 1983 world championship squad. He also worked in the front office and was a regular at Camden Yards.
For the rest of the season, the Orioles will wear a black circular patch on their right jersey sleeves with the word “FLANNY” written in white.
Not only did last-place Baltimore have to deal with the Yankees, but there was also the matter of coping with the death of one of the city’s most popular former players.
“I talked with Flanny a good bit and that’s what makes it hard,” catcher Matt Wieters said. “He’s a guy who loved this game. He loved being around it, and it’s hard any time you lose somebody who was such a big part of the Oriole family.”
Playing baseball served as a welcome distraction.
“We’re just trying to go out there and play,” Wieters said. “One thing with baseball is you’re going to play everyday, so it can be a little bit of a retreat and also something where you can sort of remember some of the things that he did for each person individually.”
(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)