A Cy Young award winner died on Wednesday. More importantly, a father, husband, son, friend, and teammate took his own life in a moment of sadness and weakness. The 1979 Cy Young award that likely brought Mike Flanagan so much pride and joy, only did so on a limited basis.
According to police, Flanagan was upset about financial issues and took his life with a self-inflicted shotgun wound. His friends knew something was wrong. “Flanny,” as they called him had his ups and his downs. But there is little chance any of them knew things were so dire. Tim Kurjikan of ESPN wrote a nice piece about Flanagan and mentioned the ups and downs he had been feeling. But things seemed to be on an up swing. Flanagan was broadcasting Orioles games, the team he loved and led to a World Series while playing. But clearly things were down more than they were up for Flanagan.
That’s the problem with suicides. The answers will almost surely never come. At least not fully. What will be forever known is who Mike Flanagan was as a person. He brought joy to so many people’s lives, but in the end couldn’t maintain that joy in his own life.
So in his death, we can celebrate the man, we can celebrate his career, we can talk about the ’79 Cy Young or the ’83 World Series, we can tout the 167 wins, and we can delight in his final career pitch, a strikeout. But the most important thing we can do is honor his memory. We can honor him by paying attention to our friends and family, by supporting them, and by looking for the warning signs. The subtleties of depression can go unnoticed and lead to unforeseen suicides like Mike Flanagan’s, but let’s remember him and pay extra close attention to those we love. Help ease the pain of friends and family so another family doesn’t have to go through what Flanagan’s family is going through now.
Mike Flanagan 1951-2011