A Look at Mike Flanagan’s Career Highlights

From SABR member Chris Jaffe at The Hardball Times on August 25:

Recently, the world heard the sad and shocking news that former pitcher Mike Flanagan died at the age of 59, an apparent suicide.

The main tragedy is the loss of the person. Others can speak of that loss far better than I. What I can do is a retrospective of his playing career, looking up some highlights for the late, lamented hurler.

The list of career highlights includes several types of games. There are the most important games he appeared in, some of the greatest games he saw, his personal highlights, some lowlights, and some of the stranger and more unusual things Flanagan was on hand for.


Sept. 26, 1978: So close. Against the Indians, Flanagan retires 26 batters without allowing a hit. Just one out away from a no-hitter, DH Gary Alexander launched a home run off him. Then Ted Cox singles. Then Duane Kuiper does likewise. With the tying run on base, Earl Weaver sends Flanagan to the showers, but he gets the win a few minutes later.


Aug. 12, 1979: Even though it’s the greatest game of his life, Flanagan still gets upstaged. He tosses a complete game, 12-inning win, the longest start of his career, allowing only five hits, one walk, and an earned run while fanning 12. His Game Score of 99 easily tops any other start of his career.

However, the big news is how the game ends. Young Eddie Murray wins it with a rare walk-off steal of home in the bottom of the 12th.


Oct. 3, 1987: It’s the biggest regular-season start of Flanagan’s career, and he is up to the challenge. Unfortunately for him, so is the other pitcher.

Toronto squares off against Detroit on the next-to-last day of the season, with the Jays ahead of the Tigers by one game in the AL East. If Toronto wins this one, they clinch the division. Flanagan allows only two runs—one earned—and after nine innings, the game is tied, 2-2. Into overtime.

Though counterpart Jack Morris is pulled from the game, Flanagan marches on, retiring Detroit in the 10th inning and again in the 11th, with the score still tied, 2-2. Toronto pulls Flanagan in the 12th, and things immediately fall apart, as Detroit scores that inning for the win, and wins again the next day for the division.

In the 24 years since then, a pitcher has gone 11 innings only six times.

Read the full article here: http://www.hardballtimes.com/main/blog_article/mike-flanagan-career-highlights/

Originally published: August 25, 2011. Last Updated: August 25, 2011.