At that time, like most six-year-olds who are lucky enough to grow up with a father present, my real-life hero was my dad (my fictional hero was Han Solo, and my semi-fictional hero was Jimmy "Superfly" Snuka). To me, he seemed the smartest, strongest, funniest guy in the universe, and I idolized him. As he and I bonded over baseball, it became clear to me that my hero was in awe of the baseball players, especially those who were part of what turned out to be the end of the Orioles' dynasty years. He spoke reverently of Scotty McGregor, Eddie Murray, Rick Dempsey, Dennis Martinez, Palmer and that left-handed sinkerball pitcher who left the club in 1987 to pitch for Toronto, a guy named Flanny, who, according to dad, would have wrapped up the '79 World Series, if the lineup had given him some runs, in game five. Watching the power the players had over my father, their ability to excite and confound him, make him howl in misery and in joy, elevated their stature even more. They were my hero's heroes, so that made them gods in my mind. Mike Flanagan was one of those gods, and now he's no longer with us.