Tim Flannery

This article was written by Bob Webster

Tim FlanneryFor 11 years Tim Flannery was an infielder for the San Diego Padres. During his childhood, he sang and played guitar with other family members. He took his guitar with him on the road while playing for the Padres and after retiring from his playing days, decided to take his musical career seriously. While coaching in the minor and major leagues and working radio and television for the next 25 years, Flannery and his band as of 2018 recorded 12 CDs, with another in the works.    

Timothy Earl Flannery was born on September 29, 1957, in Tulsa, Oklahoma, to Ragon and Joyce Flannery.1 His maternal grandfather was a coal miner in Illinois, while his father’s side of the family originally came from Ireland in the mid-1700s and settled in the Appalachians and around the coal mines in the mountains of Kentucky.

Flannery’s father left Kentucky to become a minister in Oklahoma and later moved to Southern California. They were living in Redondo Beach when Ragon Flannery gave his children a choice on their next move. Tim, who already liked baseball, wanted the family to move to Anaheim so he could see more Angels games. He won. Baseball was already in Flannery’s blood as his mother’s brother, Hal Smith, was a major leaguer who hit a three-run go-ahead homer in the eighth inning of Game Seven of the 1960 World Series, before Bill Mazeroski’s famous homer in the ninth.2

Flannery played baseball at Anaheim High School, where he earned all-league honors and was elected homecoming king as a senior.3

Flannery met his future wife, Donna, while they attended rival high schools in Anaheim. After high school, Donna attended UCLA in Los Angeles while Tim attended Chapman University in Orange, California. The two dated on and off for seven years in high school and college and while Flannery was playing minor-league baseball. The two were engaged in 1980 and married in 1981. They had three children, a son, Danny, and daughters Virginia and Kelly.4

Flannery played for three years at Chapman. The second baseman had a career batting average of .399 while leading the Panthers to second-place finishes in the NCAA Division II Regionals in 1976 and 1978. He set single-season school records for batting (.435 in 1978) and hits (90 in 1976) and was named Most Inspirational Player all three years at Chapman.5

While at Chapman, Flannery was drafted by San Diego in the sixth round of the June 1978 amateur draft. After signing with the Padres he hit .350 for the Reno Silver Sox of the California League. The next season with the Amarillo Gold Sox of the Double-A Texas League, he batted .345. After only 960 plate appearances in the minors, Flannery was a September 1979 call-up, making his major-league debut on September 3 at the age of 21 against the San Francisco Giants. He was 1-for-3 as San Diego’s leadoff hitter and delivered an RBI single off the Giants’ Ed Whitson for his first big-league hit. He played in 21 more games during the remainder of the season.

Flannery started the 1980 season with the Hawaii Islanders of the Triple-A Pacific Coast League, where he kept hitting, batting.346 in 47 games before returning to the Padres and batting.240 in 95 games as a 22-year-old. Flannery split time between Hawaii and San Diego in 1981 before remaining in the majors for the remainder of his 11-year career. He hit his first career home run off the Cubs’ Chuck Rainey at Wrigley Field on April 26, 1983.6

Batting .273 in 86 games for the Padres in their 1984 pennant-winning season, Flannery reached base in all four of his postseason plate appearances. In Game One of the National League Championship Series, Flannery was hit by a Rick Sutcliffe pitch while pinch-hitting for pitcher Eric Show. He hit a leadoff single in the fifth inning of Game Four and scored the tying run of the Padres’ 7-5 victory over the Cubs. In Game Five, Flannery hit a groundball through the legs of Cubs first-baseman Leon Durham, igniting a four-run seventh-inning rally that clinched the Padres’ first pennant. In the World Series, he collected an eighth inning pinch-hit single off Detroit’s Jack Morris in Game Four in his only plate appearance.7

In the 1985 and 1986 seasons, Flannery appeared to be the Padres’ regular second baseman, hitting .281 and .280 respectively while making only 16 errors in 229 games.

Flannery played his last game on his 32nd birthday, September 29, 1989. The sellout crowd greeted him with a long standing ovation, so long that the umpire had to stop play.8

Flannery was an all-time fan favorite in San Diego because of his hustle and all-out play. As of 2019 only Tony Gwynn, Garry Templeton, and Dave Winfield have played more games for the Padres than Flannery’s 972.9

After his playing days were over, Flannery took a couple of years off before beginning his coaching and managerial career. In 1993 he managed the Spokane Indians of the short-season Single-A Northwest League to a 35-41 record, good for third place. Moving up to high Class-A Rancho Cucamonga, Flannery led the Quakes to the California League championship in 1994. The next year he guided the Triple-A Las Vegas Stars to a 61-83 record before going up to the Padres. Flannery was manager Bruce Bochy‘s third-base coach from 1996 to 2002.

Bochy’s first year of managing the Padres was 1995 while Flannery was managing at Las Vegas. In 1996 Flannery replaced Graig Nettles as the Padres’ third-base coach and held that position for Bochy through the 2002 season. From 2004 to 2006, Flannery was a TV and radio broadcaster on the Padres pre- and postgame shows and a color commentator during select broadcasts.10

Bochy continued to manage the Padres through the 2006 season before moving on to San Francisco to become their manager. (He left the Padres because they declined to give him a contract extension.)

Soon after Bochy became manager of the Giants, he asked Flannery if he would like to be his third-base coach once again. As told to ESPN’s Tim Keown in 2013, Flannery said, One day at the beginning of ’07, I’m walking the dog with my wife. I’d been doing radio for four years, and at this point she thinks we’re doing radio forever. I was doing 100 games a year and I loved it; it was performing without a net. So we’re walking the dog and my phone rings. It’s Boch. He asks me, ‘You got one more ride in you?’ Then he sends me the video of Lonesome Dove, where the two guys are sitting around kicking the pigs around the farm. I’m sitting there watching it, and Donna says, ‘You’re going again, aren’t you?’ I looked at her like this (winces and nods) and say, ‘Yeah, honey, I guess I am.’”11

Flannery spent the next eight years in the third-base coach’s box for Bochy. He became well known for his animated way of waving the runners home. He ran down the line on some plays because his mentors —Jimmy Davenport, Joey Amalfitano, and Jimy Williams —taught him the importance of buying an extra second or two to decide whether to send a runner home. Flannery wore spikes, expecting a workout every game.12

Flannery was not only the third-base coach, but he also counseled players. “Flan took me in as a 20-year-old kid. I didn’t know how to work,” said pitcher Jake Peavy, who played for Bochy and Flannery in San Diego and with the Giants. “I was sitting around twiddling my thumbs at my locker and he said, ‘Come on, let’s go bunt, let’s go learn how to run the bases.’ Me and him struck up a unique friendship. He taught me how to play guitar, a great release. He probably got me in some trouble, but he kept me out of more trouble the older I get. As anybody knows, Flan gave his heart and soul. Flan is all in.”13

The Giants won the World Series with Bochy at the helm and Flannery in the third-base coach’s box in 2010, 2012, and 2014. As the 2014 season progressed, Flannery told a sportswriter that he is physically and emotionally spent, has done all he wants to do on the baseball field, wants to spend more time with his wife and family and devote his energies to raising money for all manner of causes through his music.”14

In November 2014, Flannery called Giants GM Brian Sabean and Bochy to say he was stepping down as the third-base coach.15 I call it the goddamned blessed road,” Flannery said. “I’ve buried friends. I’ve put friends in rehab. I’ve watched marriages dissolve. There’s a lot of collateral damage in this lifestyle I’ve had for 33 years. I’m going to send myself home safely.”16

As spring training began in 2015, Flannery was surfing in Costa Rica. “It’s still offseason for me,” he said. “It’ll be nice when they go to spring training and I go to Costa Rica to surf.”17

Flannery did, however, return to baseball in 2015. He signed with Comcast Sportsnet Bay Area (now NBCS Bay Area) to be a part-time analyst and work some pregame and postgame shows.18 After a guest stint with MLB Network in 2015, Flannery joined MLB as a studio analyst in August of 2015.19

On July 11, 2018, for the Giants-Cubs game, Flannery took on a new role with the Giants. Renel Brooks-Moon, the Giants’ regular PA announcer, was fulfilling a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to be master of ceremonies for the swearing-in of San Francisco Mayor London Breed, the first African-American woman to be elected the city’s mayor. Flannery assumed the responsibility of PA announcer for the day. “I’m not going to do anything nuts,” Flannery told the San Francisco Chronicle. “That’s my one thing going into it.”20

Bruce Bochy and Tim Flannery had a long history together, beginning when they first played together with the Padres in 1983 and were locker mates for parts of five years. They became good friends. Bochy retired from playing in 1987 and Flannery in 1989, but were back together in 1996 as manager and third-base coach of the Padres. They were different upbringings and according to their wives had nothing in common except baseball, but they had a chemistry that worked. Stories include one time the fans were on Flannery for sending a runner home who was tagged out and Bochy saw that Flannery was getting steamed. Flannery heard someone yelling, “Flannery, you stink, and your music stinks, too.” Flannery turned to see who was yelling that and it was Bochy. That eased the tension a bit.21

After the 2014 season, when Flannery called Bochy to tell him he was retiring, Bochy said, “I’m happy for Flan. He’s going to pursue his passion for music. You don’t spend 32 years with somebody and not miss them. I’m going to miss his friendship, I’m going to miss the great job he did at third base. We’re still going to see each other. This isn’t a eulogy, this is a guy who’s ready to go to the next chapter in his life.”22

On December 21, 2015, a delivery arrived for Flannery. It was a World Series trophy from Bruce Bochy. The “Commissioner’s Trophy,” as it is known, represents the 2010, 2012, and 2014 championships. Flannery played with Bochy for five seasons and coached for Bochy for 16 seasons at San Diego and San Francisco, including three World Series with the Giants.23

For Flannery, there were two seasons: baseball season and music season. He and Tom, his younger brother by six years, shared a bedroom and would lie in their bunk beds and sing before turning in for the night. They sang in their father’s church every Sunday along with their sister, Ragean. While in eighth grade, Tim, with his sister on banjo, sang Merle Haggard’s “Okie from Muskogee” in their school’s talent show. Tom taught music for many years in Kentucky and directed choirs in front of the pope at the Vatican; sister Ragean toured Europe as a pianist.24

Player Flannery always took his guitar with him on the road. After his playing days were over, he was in a Jimmy Buffett cover band and told ESPN’s Keown in 2013 about a night playing at Dick’s Last Resort in the Gaslamp Quarter area of San Diego. Flannery said, “We called ourselves Buff’d Out —can you believe that? Buff’d Out. How great is that? We got bar gigs in town through baseball, and we were pretty good. But it was the same thing every time, and I needed to make a change. One night in 1991, a couple of years after I retired, we were packing up the gear at Dick’s and I turned to the guys in the band and said, ‘Well boys, I have played ‘Cheeseburger in Paradise’ for the last time.’” That night, Flannery made a pledge to write and perform his own music.25

In 1993 Flannery began his coaching career, but kept on growing his musical career. Flannery said, “When I started writing my own music, I realized it isn’t for everyone. People listen to music and try to write that song. At that point, you’re not an artist, you’re an act. When you’re an artist, it’s ‘Here it is. Hope you like it. Don’t care if you don’t.’”26

Flannery has worked with Jackson Browne, Bruce Hornsby, Garth Brooks, Jimmy Buffett, Bob Weir, and many others. He has performed the National Anthem with Bob Weir and Phil Lesh of The Grateful Dead many times, including during the 2012 and 2014 playoffs.27

On Opening Day 2011, the Giants played the Dodgers in Los Angeles. After the game a Giants fan, Bryan Stow, was savagely beaten by two men. Stow nearly lost his life and this event changed his and his family’s lives forever. Flannery played in a benefit show for Stow in Oakland. The Grateful Dead’s Bob Weir heard of Flannery’s efforts and wanted to help. Weir invited Flannery into his home studio and they teamed up to play some benefit concerts together. Flannery became part of the Bay Area music scene. “I found a home,” Flannery said of the Bay Area scene. “My kid said, “‘You understand them. And they understand you.’”28

In 2014 Tim and Donna founded the Love Harder Project with the mission of “changing the world one bully at a time.” The organization assists victims of violence and supports anti-bullying programs. Flannery and the Lunatic Fringe performed numerous times to help the Stow family with expenses: more than $300,000 as of 2018.

In 2017 Flannery was nominated for Humanitarian of the Year by All Sports United, a sports philanthropy organization.29

 

Sources

Flannery’s minor- and major-league stats, coaching, and managing assignments were retrieved from Baseball-Reference.com, unless otherwise noted.

 

Notes

1 findagrave.com/memorial/185823715/ragon-theodore-flannery.

2 Ron Kroichick, “SF Giants’ Tim Flannery: Music Man,” September 6, 2012; sfgate.com/sports/kroichick/article/SF-Giants-Tim-Flannery-Music-man-3845724.php.

3 upclosed.com/people/tim-flannery/.

4  Amy Gutierrez, “Giants Diamond Girls: Donna Flannery,” July 30, 2012; nbcsports.com/bayarea/giants/giants-diamond-girls-donna-flannery.

5  chapmanathletics.com/hof/bios/flannery?view=bio.

6  upclosed.com/people/tim-flannery/.

7  Ibid.

8  Ibid.

9  web.archive.org/web/20141203193624/http:/sanfrancisco.giants.mlb.com/team/coach_staff_bio.jsp?.  

10 upclosed.com/people/tim-flannery/.

11 Tim Keown, “Folk Hero,” February 5, 2013; espn.com/mlb/story/_/id/8910268/san-francisco-giants-third-base-coach-tim-flannery-uses-music-save-life-espn-magazine.

12 Ron Kroichick, “SF Giants’ Tim Flannery: Music Man.”

13 Fox Sports, “Tim Flannery Pursues New Life Away from the Baseball Diamond,” February 10, 2015; foxsports.com/mlb/story/tim-flannery-pursues-new-life-away-from-the-baseball-diamond-021015.

14 Henry Schulman, “Giants’ Tim Flannery Retires. ‘I’m Going to Send Myself Home Safely,’” November 25, 2014; sfgate.com/giants/article/Giants-Tim-Flannery-retires-I-m-going-to-5917318.php#photo-7191323.

15 Ibid.

16 Ibid.

17 “Tim Flannery Pursues New Life Away from the Baseball Diamond.”

18 upclosed.com/people/tim-flannery/.

19 Joe Harris, “Giants analyst Flannery joins MLB Network,” August 17, 2015; https://www.mlb.com/news/tim-flannery-new-mlb-network-studio-analyst/c-143728640

20 Gary Peterson, “Former Giants Coach Tim Flannery to Pinch Hit —in the PA Booth,” July 11, 2018; mercurynews.com/2018/07/11/former-giants-coach-tim-flannery-to-pinch-hit-in-the-pa-booth/

21 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GXOoc7fzNFw.

22 “Tim Flannery Pursues New Life Away from the Baseball Diamond.”

23 Dave Brown, “Look: Bruce Bochy Buys World Series Trophy for Giants’ Tim Flannery,” December 22, 2015; cbssports.com/mlb/news/look-bruce-bochy-buys-world-series-trophy-for-giants-tim-flannery/.

24 Ron Kroichick, “SF Giants’ Tim Flannery: Music Man.”

25 Tim Keown, “Folk Hero.”

26 Ibid.

27 upclosed.com/people/tim-flannery/

28 Al Saracevic, “Ex-Giant Coach Flannery, Renaissance Man, Finds Broadcast Niche,” June 28, 2015; sfchronicle.com/giants/article/Ex-Giant-coach-Flannery-renaissance-man-finds-6353737.php?t=faf6f1e715414c98e6.

29 loveharderproject.org/index.php/flans-story/.

Full Name

Timothy Earl Flannery

Born

September 29, 1957 at Tulsa, OK (USA)

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