BALTIMORE — Former Cy Young award winner Mike Flanagan died of a self-inflicted shotgun wound to the head, the Maryland medical examiner ruled Thursday.
A police investigation revealed that the 59-year-old pitcher was upset about financial issues. He left no note.
Flanagan’s body was found Wednesday afternoon about 250 feet behind his home. An investigation showed he was home alone when he took his life.
“It’s very tragic. He was a good friend. I just wished I’d known he was having a struggle,” former Orioles player and manager Davey Johnson said. “I’d sure liked to have talked to him. It’s just a terrible loss. Everybody who knew Flanny loved him. He was always a delight to be around.”
Now manager of the Nationals, Johnson spoke about Flanagan before Washington hosted Arizona.
“I was pretty shaken,” Johnson said. “I wished I had a chance to talk to him, and cheer him up like he’s done me in the past.”
Flanagan won the Cy Young Award in 1979 and helped the Baltimore Orioles win the 1983 World Series. After his retirement, he worked for the Orioles as a coach and in the front office before settling into a job as color commentator on the team’s broadcast network.
Flanagan was scheduled to work this weekend’s series against the New York Yankees.
“He was looking forward to broadcasting the Yankees series coming up. He was doing something he loved,” said Jim Duquette, who teamed with Flanagan from 2005-07 to attempt to rebuild the Orioles.
According to police, Alex Flanagan last spoke to her husband about 1 a.m. Wednesday. She told police he sounded upset, and he promised he would talk to her later.
When Alex Flanagan did not hear from her husband, she called a neighbor to check on him. The neighbor went to the home and called 911 after failing to find him.
Police discovered a body on the property but could not immediately determine the identity because the wounds were so severe.
There was a moment of silence at Yankee Stadium on Thursday before New York faced the Oakland Athletics. Flanagan’s picture was posted on the video board.
Flanagan was a crafty left-hander who went 167-143 with a 3.90 ERA over 18 seasons with Baltimore and Toronto.
He was 141-116 with Baltimore and is a member of the team’s Hall of Fame. Flanagan was also the final Oriole to pitch at Memorial Stadium, Baltimore’s home from 1954-1991.
During that appearance out of the bullpen, Flanagan struck out Detroit’s Dave Bergman and Travis Fryman, much to the delight of the 50,700 fans that filled the old ballpark one last time.
The Baltimore Ravens showed a video of that final pitch before their preseason game against the Washington Redskins, calling Flanagan “one of Baltimore’s favorite sons.” The video was stopped showing Flanagan as he doffed his cap while walking off the mound.
“He was a wonderful individual and a true Oriole who led by example, played the game with class and brought a lot of happiness to Orioles’ fans over his career. He will be missed tremendously by so many people,” said Mike Gibbons, executive director of Sports Legends Museum & the Babe Ruth Birthplace.
The Flanagan family issued this statement Thursday: “We thank you for your support and kind words at this difficult time. Thank you for respecting our privacy as we grieve. A private memorial will be held at a later date.”