The Coast News Group
Leucadia's Tim Flannery, musician and former Padre, experienced hallucinations as he recovered from a near-fatal staph infection. File photo
Columns Sports Talk

Sports Talk: Flannery battling after being knocked down by a staph infection

If the love one receives is calculated on the love one distributes, it’s little wonder Tim Flannery is being besieged by kindness.

Flannery, the former Padre and longtime Leucadia resident, is a giver. I’ve seen it since our relationship began in 1975.

Now when focusing on Flannery, it comes with affection, prayers and good vibes.

Flannery is battling a serious staph infection that nearly cost him his life. Countless fans are riding along on his right arm fighting with him, the one that baserunners sought when heading home.

Flannery has been in and out of his cozy North County house, the one filled with guitars, surfboards and his signature oversized wine glass. The medical mystery has knocked down the celebrated third base coach who won three World Series with the San Francisco Giants.

Flannery, 63, has been a winner since our paths crossed as teenagers. I played second base for Orange High School while Flannery filled that spot at Anaheim High.

During Flannery’s senior season, the smooth-swinging left-hander hit about .800 with zero strikeouts. I checked in batting a solid .212 with a couple of walks and there was that time I was awarded first on catcher’s interference.

Somehow, Flannery was picked for the All-Century League team at second base, with me, rightly so, playing second fiddle to someone who carved out 11 seasons in the majors despite being a sixth-round pick.

We always joked about how I was robbed, and the story never failed to bring a twinkle to his Irish eyes. Now my eyes and countless others are on Flannery, hoping the scrappy overachiever can rise up and surprise us once again.

Bet against him at your own peril. There’s not much this son of a preacher can’t do and remember that 1999 All-Star Game in Boston?

It was Tony Gwynn’s final Midsummer Classic and San Diego’s Ted Williams threw out the first pitch. But the day before, it was Flannery’s offerings that had Beantown going bonkers.

Slugger Mark McGwire was in the Home Run Derby, but his pitcher got stage fright. An official ran into the cramped Fenway Park visitor’s clubhouse, where Flannery had finished putting the stars through their pregame drills and was polishing off his second beer.

Our chat was interrupted by a frazzled MLB official.

“Hey, can you throw to McGwire?” he shouted at Flannery while stepping over brimming equipment bags.

Flannery looked up with a gleam that gave the answer before it escaped his lips.

“I’m Irish, we’re in Boston, I’m drinking a Guinness and someone wants me to throw to a guy named McGwire?” Flannery said. “How could I say ‘no’ to that?”

So with his son, Dan, who played and coached at San Dieguito High School, shagging balls in center field, Flannery helped McGwire put on a show.

Or how about when Flannery really did do his song and dance for Cardiff Library. Each year Flannery, an accomplished musician, would deliver a free concert for the community.

Or how about when Giants fan Bryan Stow was brutally beaten after a Dodgers game and suffered significant brain damage. Flannery launched his loveharderproject.org and he raised nearly $400,000 to help with Stow’s daunting medical bills and to combat bullying.

That’s Flannery and that’s among the reasons so many in the baseball and music world are rooting for this proud man who was never shy about doing whatever it took to prevail. Someone who fought off many 0-2 curveballs is digging in and not giving up after the infection entered his bloodstream.

Flannery was first hospitalized in mid-October and he was back in a local Scripps Hospital on Monday.

“I’ve hallucinated, wept, fought off doubt, and surrendered to God, and hung on,” Flannery posted on the Facebook page of his band, Tim Flannery and the Lunatic Fringe.

We’re all hanging on, too, waiting for the good news that a good man deserves. We’re going to love harder, as Flannery always pleaded for us to do.

This old Orange High second baseman is pulling for his rival from Anaheim and I’m far from alone. There’s plenty of space on the “Flan Man” bandwagon, for those choosing affection over malice.

“The outpouring has been so special,” Flannery told Bryce Miller of the San Diego Union-Tribune before being readmitted this week. “I thought I should step up, explain what’s going on and thank everybody.”

Typical Flannery. While facing a persistent foe, he thinks of his legion of friends.

Contact Jay Paris at [email protected]. Follow him @jparis_sports

Leave a Comment