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Sharing thoughts about Mike Flanagan

The lights are low at Connolly's today. The Orioles banner behind the bar is at half-mast.

I knew Mike Flanagan -- who died outside his Sparks home Wednesday at age 59 -- for more than a decade. I knew him first as a broadcaster and then for six years as a co-general manager and then as a broadcaster again.

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I knew him as a tremendous storyteller. And, yeah, to be honest, I grew up cheering for him. His glory years coincided with my time as an Orioles fan. And if you were a kid in the late 1970s/early '80s, you had to love Flanny.

Today, I'm gonna kick back and let others talk about Flanagan. I apologize for the length, but I feel it is appropriate.

Please, share your thoughts, too. We'll start with Jim Palmer, and this statement: "I don't know the circumstances of his death. I don't know that anyone does yet. But whatever it is, it's a tremendous loss anytime you lose somebody like Mike."

More Palmer: "Mike was such a unique guy: Talented, witty, funny. He had a reserved side of him, too, when you experienced all the things we experienced. I was kind of his mentor, and I was proud to do that. Robin Roberts did that for me, and I was proud to carry on that tradition with Scotty [McGregor], Storm Davis, [Mike] Boddicker, and Mike and Denny Martinez. That's what made us what we were. …

"You are not ready to lose someone like Mike Flanagan. But on the other side, I feel lucky to be part of the organization and have had him as a friend and a confidant and buddy and see all facets of him. That's what baseball is all about, the ups and downs and good times and bad times. He was one of my students and then became one of my friends. It is just horrible. You could go into shock. It's surreal, it's like it hasn't happened. …

"I think about losing my dad at 10 and my stepfather and my mom. This is a terrible time for his family, it's tough for all of us. We all had so much respect for him. He was such a super guy in so many different ways. …

"Flanny was somewhat of a selfless guy. I don't think he talked much about himself. You don't find that in most people. He was a terrific pitching coach. He was a special human being. You don't replace people like that in your life. That's why I feel so fortunate to have spent so much time with him as I did."

Rick Dempsey: "Flanny was, gosh darnit, there was just no doubt that everybody loved him. He was just a huge part of our lives in Baltimore. In the wintertime, he would come to my house and we would fish together. …

"I know he has gone through some tough times. I think he was very down about the GM job, but it seemed like he rallied when he got the [MASN] color job again. It's just shock right now. I know everybody that played with him loved him to death. He was the backbone of that pitching staff. He never quit, this guy never quit. He was there for the duration. We had so many great games and so many great times, I just can't believe it. …

"He had the driest and funniest sense of humor of anybody I ever played with. He was just a magnificent person and magnificent teammate."

Peter Angelos: "It is with deep sadness that I learned of the death of my friend Mike Flanagan earlier this evening. In over a quarter century with the organization, Flanny became an integral part of the Orioles family, for his accomplishments both on and off the field. His loss will be felt deeply and profoundly by all of us with the ballclub and by Orioles fans everywhere who admired him. On behalf of the club I extend my condolences to his wife, Alex; and daughters Kerry, Kathryn and Kendall."

Buck Showalter: "Mike made a point of making me feel welcomed from Day One. First time I spent time with him, he was in a line at the Welcome Home banquet. I feel like it was yesterday and he was trying to help me help our left-handers with their moves. …

"I always looked forward to him coming in and sitting down and drinking coffee with me and not only talking about baseball, but talking about life. He was a passionate man about the Orioles and family, and he impacted a lot of people's lives, not just by the way he pitched, but he is someone our organization has always been proud of not only for the way he pitched, but the way he treated people. …

"You think about how many great ways he impacted fans' lives and the Orioles' life, but he impacted people that never got to dance underneath those lights. I've always marveled at the way he treated everybody. Regardless of background, whether this guy never played in the big leagues or whatever. The Orioles lost a real source of wisdom. It's just hard to imagine not getting to see him now and then."

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Scouting director Joe Jordan: "Mike was just one of those genuine guys. He was a former major leaguer and an accomplished and successful one, and you'd never know it to talk to him. He was just genuine. He was a very intelligent man, and if you got into a baseball conversation with him, he'd control it. He had just so much insight. He was a thinker, and that is what impressed me the most. …

"I didn't know him at all [before Jordan was hired]. Jim Beattie was my contact. But when Jim left, my friendship with Mike really grew. We just had a good friendship. I am just shocked. A good man, a good friend."

Cal Ripken Jr.: "I am so sorry to hear about Mike's passing. He was a good friend and teammate and our thoughts are with Alex and his family. Mike was an Oriole through and through and he will be sorely missed by family, friends and fans. This is a sad day."

Jeremy Guthrie: "It's a really sad day. I think he was so close to so many people in this organization and he has touched the lives of countless, thousands of people in the Baltimore community and in the baseball world. So the news of him passing is a big blow to this team, to this family, to this organization, to this city and to Major League Baseball. …

"I have a strong connection with him. I think since the day I was given the number 46, I had thousands of people tell me that was the number of their favorite pitcher for the Orioles when they were growing up. So from Day One, I think I have been reminded of the legacy and the work Mike did, not only as a player, but as a member of the community in Baltimore. It has always been special, and now it takes on even a new level. He is not going to be forgotten soon, that's for sure. …

"I heard it I think somewhere in the third or fourth inning. It is one of those things, our hearts were in another place but … we tried to stay focused on the game. But certainly those who heard during the game, part of their thoughts were taken away from what we were doing out there on the field. … Once you are on the mound, you realize the task at hand and you try to focus on that. I wouldn't say it was so much a distraction from pitch to pitch as much as kind of a heaviness inside during the game."

Michael Gonzalez: "I don't even have the words. My heart goes out to his family. You see the difference in the clubhouse. We get a 'W' and we didn't turn the music on right now. Everyone is feeling the same right now. My heart just goes out to his family. …

"[I knew him] well enough to know what kind of quality person he is. We lost a great guy, besides from the baseball and everything else. Just the man himself. He was a great guy, besides the knowledge and everything he would talk to you about. He was just cool to have around."

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Adam Jones: "It just hits the whole Oriole family, and he was a big, big part of it. The last couple years I got to know him pretty good. … He obviously was a guy when I met him, I knew I could learn from him. Every time I was around him, I stuck around him and made it my mission to try and pick up any information. That was the kind of guy he was to me. …

"I'd be lying if I said I wasn't thinking about it out there [on the field]. But I try to focus as much as I could on the game. "

Daily Think Special: Share your thoughts on Mike Flanagan

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