Mike Flanagan's death has been a bittersweet reminder of how loyal and deep-rooted the Orioles' fan base is. Fans here don't forget the past. They hold tight to the memories that made them fall in love with the Orioles - even if those memories are fading with the years.
I'm one of those fans.
These past two days everybody at MASN has shared in the grief felt by O's fans. Just like many of you, I grew up in this area loving the Orioles and Flanny's death represented, for me, the reality that the men I grew up idolizing won't be around forever.
We need to cherish those players while they're still here. Some, like Jim Palmer and Rick Dempsey, are around the Yard every day.
For those of you who didn't know Flanagan, he was a gentle-hearted, quick-witted man who never had anything negative to say about anybody. If you only knew him for a few minutes, he made you feel like you knew him for 30 years. Flanny sat one row behind me on the Orioles' charter and his one-liners and light-hearted spirit made some tough losing stretches bearable. I only wish he knew how much he was loved and respected by those around him.
I hope all of us will respect the privacy of Mike's family. His oldest two daughters are grown, but his youngest daughter is still just 18. That's a tough age to lose your dad.
I've been extremely disappointed with some of the reports issued by local sportscasters in the wake of Flanagan's death. Speculation can be a dangerous thing. In a time like this, good taste should prevail. Those closest to Mike know the reasons behind this tragedy. They are the only ones who ever really need to know.
Doing the O's postgame show moments after we were told the devastating news was extremely difficult, as many of you witnessed. As a broadcaster, you think you can remove yourself from any situation and report the facts - until the situation is the death of your friend. I hope God saves us all from having to that again.
I have a tremendous amount of respect for my colleagues, Palmer and Dempsey, who had the choice not to go on air Wednesday night. They did - and in the most honest television ever broadcast on our air, allowed all of us to feel how deeply Mike was loved by those who wore the Orioles uniform alongside him. It was a brave thing to do for their friend. We thank them for sharing those moments with us.
And, Flanny, we thank you - not just for the memories, but for the way you treated those around you. The world is a lesser place today without you. Rest in peace.