Orioles Card "O" the Day

An intersection of two of my passions: baseball cards and the Baltimore Orioles. Updated daily?

Friday, December 16, 2011

Vintage Fridays: Mike Flanagan, 1980 Topps #205

I'm writing today's entry with a heavy heart, as this would have been Mike Flanagan's 60th birthday had he not taken his own life this past August 24. In the subsequent months, there have been no enlightening discoveries to help his family, friends, and fans make sense of Mike's suicide. We know that he was disappointed by his uneven tenure as the de facto general manager of the Orioles and distraught over reported financial problems, but these things will never satisfactorily explain such a drastic act of despair. My deepest sympathies go out to his loved ones as they are faced with their first Christmas without him.

This card focuses on Flanny in the prime of his life and his career, having just won the American League Cy Young Award for a superlative 1979 season. He topped the junior circuit with a 23-9 record and 5 shutouts, notched a career-low 3.08 ERA, and had personal bests with a 2.71 strikeout-to-walk ratio and 6.4 strikeouts per 9 innings. He helped lead the O's to their first World Series since 1971, topping the Angels in Game Two of the ALCS before going the distance in a 5-4 win over the Pirates in the Series opener. Here he shares the spotlight with the great, knuckleballing Niekro brothers, who tied for the National League lead with 21 wins apiece. Sadly, Joe Niekro has also left us too soon; a brain anuerysm caused his death in 2006 at age 61. It's all just another reminder that life is short, and we should be good to one another in the time that we are given.