Mike Flanagan, former Major League pitcher and current executive vice president of baseball operations for the Baltimore Orioles, will be presented the 2006 William A. “Bill” Shea Distinguished Little League Graduate Award prior to Little League Baseball World Series championship game on Sunday, Aug. 27.
The award was established in 1987 to serve a two-fold purpose. First, and most importantly, the award is presented to a former Little Leaguer in Major League Baseball who best exemplifies the spirit of Little League Baseball. Consideration for selection includes both the individual’s ability and accomplishments and that person’s status as a positive role model.
Playing for South Little League in Manchester, N.H., Mr. Flanagan participated in the Little League program for five years and was a two-time all-star pitcher and first baseman.
“When I was 12, my team was one game away from playing in the World Series,” Mr. Flanagan said. “Every year I watch the World Series games. Seeing those teams play brings back early baseball memories like putting on my uniform and the team atmosphere. I took a lot of steps from Little League to the Major Leagues, and it was a great journey. Certainly starting off in Little League gave me a great foundation for what goes on in the sport – I loved it.”
Mr. Flanagan joined the Orioles as a late-season call-up in 1975 and promptly lost his first five major-league decisions. By 1977, the left-hander had established himself, and in 1979 he won the American League Cy Young Award as the league’s top pitcher with a 23-9 record. For 10 seasons (1977 to 1987), Mr. Flanagan started more games than another other American League pitcher (334) and posted a .500 or better record for eight of those seasons.
After 10 years in Baltimore, including a trip to the World Series in 1979 (the Orioles lost in seven games to the Pittsburgh Pirates), Mr. Flanagan was traded to the Toronto Blue Jays. He pitched in 30 games for the Blue Jays, before returning to the Orioles in 1991. Working as a middle reliever that season, Mr. Flanagan was part of the second four-player no-hitter in Major League Baseball history. The following year marked a milestone for the Orioles and Mr. Flanagan as he threw the last pitch at Baltimore’s Memorial Stadium. The next season the team moved into Oriole Park at Camden Yards, which was Mr. Flanagan’s final season as a player.
In an 18-year Major League career, Mr. Flanagan appeared in 526 games; 404 as a starting pitcher. He pitched 2,770 innings, compiling a record of 167-143, with a 3.90 earned run average and 1,491 strikeouts.
“When I was a kid, I didn’t realize all the support that comes from the families of Little Leaguers,” Mr. Flanagan said. “Little League really is like a family. Now that I think about it, I wore my Little League uniform constantly, and the biggest punishment my parents ever gave me was taking my glove and uniform away.”
Retired as a player for 14 seasons, Mr. Flanagan has worked as an analyst on broadcasts of Orioles games and twice served as the team’s pitching coach (1996 and ‘98) before assumed his current duties in 2005.
The Distinguished Little League Graduate Award was established in honor of the many contributions made to Little League Baseball by Bill Shea, former President of the Little League Foundation. Mr. Shea is credited with bringing National League Baseball back to New York in the early 1960s, while also working diligently for the advancement of Little League Baseball.