Wednesday, November 9, 2011

#38 Tim Flannery

Card: This is Flannery's fourth Topps card.  He is comically airbrushed on his rookie card with two other Padre prospects in the 1980 series. 

Picture:  In the first of several cards in this set with guest stars, Flannery shares the pic with Darrell Evans who is holding him close at first base.  Flannery kind of creeped me out as a kid with those eyes...they look like they could emit blue laser beams.

Player: Tim Flannery, a left handed hitting infielder, was drafted by the San Diego Padres in the sixth round out of Chapman University in 1978.  Flannery tore up the minors in '78 and '79, batting .350 and .345 at the single and double-A levels.  Flannery made his MLB debut as a September call-up in '79 but found big league pitching a lot more difficult to square up, batting just .154 in 65 at bats. 

Flannery started 1980 in AAA Hawaii and once again shredded minor league pitching to the tune of a .346 average in 182 at bats.  Flannery was promoted in June and was allowed to play pretty much everyday, splitting time between second and third base.  Flannery played good defense but batted only .240 with no power.  Flannery commuted from San Diego and Hawaii a few times during the '81 season.  With the big club he was used primarily as a pinch hitter and a reserve at third base batting .254 in only 67 at bats.

Flannery started the '82 season on the bench, pinch hitting once in a while until starter Juan Bonilla was injured.  Manager Dick Williams decided to platoon the lefty swinging Flannery with Joe Pittman until Bonilla came back in September.  Flannery batted .264 and contributed little on offense.  In '83 Flannery came off the bench filling in at second and third.  The California native hit the first three home runs of his career and batted .234 in 214 at bats.

In 1984 the Padres had a solid infield with veterans Graig Nettles and Steve Garvey at the corners, with Garry Templeton and Alan Wiggins up the middle.  Flannery pitched in off the bench and batted a productive .273 in 128 at bats and recorded an OPS+ over 100 for the first time in his career.  The Padres won the NL West and defeated the Cubs in the NLCS with Flannery getting one hit in two at bats.  The Padres then took on the Tigers in the World Series, losing in five games with Flannery getting a hit in his only at bat.

As 1985 unfolded, starting second sacker Wiggins slumped and was suspended for his recurring drug use.  Flannery who struggled mightily against left handed pitching, (career .158 BA) was platooned and batted .281.  Flannery showed a good eye and worked 58 walks giving him a .386 OBP.  Flannery came back with nearly the same performance in '86 with a .280/.378/.345 line.

The sandy-haired veteran had his playing time reduced to 276 at bats in '87 as he scuffled at the plate batting only .228.  In '88 Roberto Alomar burst onto the scene at second base, relegating Flannery to a back up role.  Flannery batted .265 and and followed it up batting .231 in 1989. 

The fan favorite Flannery retired and took a few years off from baseball, returning to the game as a minor league manager and eventually working as a third base coach for both the Padres and Giants.   

Flipside: Flannery is listed at 6'0" on all his cards through 1987.  Then on his last two cards he is listed as 5'11".  Either he shrunk or at age 30 was ready to admit he wasn't a six-footer. 

Oddball:  I wonder how man non-Padre and Giants fans know that Flannery is an accomplished guitarist.  It is mentioned a few times on the back of his early cards but Flannery has a real passion for music releasing ten albums over the last fifteen years.  Below is a video of Flannery's tribute song to long time Padre announcer Jerry Coleman.

History: Flannery's hard working style, sandy-hair, and blue eyes made him a favorite of Padres fans throughout the 1980's.  After his playing career he managed in the Padres system from '93 to '95. In 1996 he was promoted to the Padres third base coach and remained in that spot until 2002.  Flannery then joined the Padres broadcast team for a couple of years before taking a two year hiatus from the game. Flannery then joined the Giants as third base coach in 2007, won a World Series ring in 2010, and still works the third base box as part of Bruce Bochy's staff.  

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