Apr 17, 2016

Former Mets Gold Glove Second Baseman: Doug Flynn (1977-1981)

Robert Douglas Flynn was born on April 18, 1951 in Lexington, Kentucky. Doug’s dad had played in the Brooklyn Dodger organization in the late 1940s but never made the big leagues.

Doug was a standout player at the University of Kentucky getting signed with the Cincinnati Reds as a free agent in 1971. He spent three years in the minor leagues moving up a level each season. He never hit above .258 there but was known for being a fine defensive infielder.

He debuted with the Reds in 1975 as an all around infield utility man for the Big Red Machine in their hey days. It was clear with Joe Morgan, Dave Concercion & Pete Rose on the field; there wasn’t much room for the weak hitting Flynn as an everyday player.

He would only hit seven HRs in his career, and two of them came in those years. He would drive in twenty runs each season, getting into over 80 games each season. He hit .268 in 1975 & then batted .283 in 1976. He only made one defensive appearance in the post season, it came in Game #1 of the 1976 NLCS against the Phillies.

Flynn’s scouting report reads: an excellent defensive player, with a light bat and good speed. He came over to the New York Mets with Steve Henderson, Pat Zachary & Dan Norman, on “The Midnight Massacre” in the famous Tom Seaver deal in 1977. 

"I remember the day before the trade, there was an article in the Cincinnati paper that listed all the Reds who were untouchables and I was one of them," Flynn said. "That night we were playing the Phillies, Pete Rose came over and sat next to me and patted me on the leg." Instantly Flynn knew.

"I said to Pete, I'm going, aren't I? Flynn said. "I asked where and for whom and he said to New York for Tom Seaver. I asked if it 'was straight up' and he said 'hardly.' Earlier that year on May 20th he doubled off Tom Seaver & his future Mets team mates driving in two runs in a game at Shea Stadium.

Flynn debuted with the Mets on June 17th getting a hit, a double in a game against the Houston Astros at Shea Stadium. Flynn was always seen with his cheek full of tobacco like an old time ball player. He played hard in New York for the fans & his rookie manager Joe Torre. Flynn would get to play short stop when veteran Bud Harrelson got hurt, going thirty one games without committing an error that season.

Not known for his hitting, Flynn hit only .191 that summer for the Mets. Going into August he had a six game hit streak, with two multi hit games. On August 9th he had a three hit game against the Cardinals at Shea Stadium & then another three hit game a week later in St. Louis.

The rest of the year he slumped & also made twelve errors on the field due to the fact he was having personal troubles. "I was thrust into a situation in New York," Flynn said. "I was coming off back-to-back World Series teams but I was still a country boy from Kentucky living in the big city. The trade also happened at a time when my sister was kidnapped and murdered. That leaked out and I tried not to make a big deal of it. Obviously it was on my mind."

Flynn got to play more second base in 1978, seeing action in 128 games at the position. He posted a .986 fielding % (2nd in the league) and played a good enough defense to finish second to the Dodgers, Davey Lopes for the Gold Glove award. At the plate he hit .237 with no HRs 12 doubles, 8 triples (10th in the league) & six sacrifice hits.

On Opening Day he drove in the second run of the Mets season, with a single off Montreal's Steve Rogers in the Mets 3-1 win over the Expos. On April 17th he had three hits while driving in two runsin a 6-2 Mets win over the St. Louis Cardinals at Shea Stadium.

From May 9th through May 17th Flynn hit in key situations driving in a run in five of seven games. He closed out the month with two more games where he had multi RBIs, both games in which the Mets won. In July he had two seven game hit streaks, & also drove in runs in three straight games late in the month. In September he hit four triples half his total for the season & drove in eight runs, almost a quarter of his RBI total for the year.

In 1979 he led the league’s second baseman in put outs (325) was second in assists (380) third in fielding (.983 %) & was once again the runner-up for the Gold Glove Award. He also enjoyed career highs in at-bats (555) hits (135) doubles (19) HRs (4) and RBIs (61). His 61 RBIs were third best on the weak hitting team.

The Mets began the year with a big 10-6 Opening Day win at Wrigley Field. In the second game he had two hits while driving in two runs in the Mets 9-4 win. That month he drove in seven runs but only hit .164.

On May 1st Flynn hit a three run HR at Shea off Padres pitcher & future Hall of Famer Doug Flynn. On June 3rd in a game against the Braves in Atlanta Flynn hit two triples gathering up three hits. On June 12th with the Mets trailing the Reds 5-2, they had a rare 1979 power explosion.

They set a franchise record, scoring ten runs in the inning, the highlight being a three run inside the park HR by Flynn. It was just the third inside the parker in Shea Stadium’s history at that point. It was quite a thrill for Flynn against his old team mates as well. On June 16th he hit a HR off Atlanta’s Mickey Mahler & later scored the only other run of the game, on Joel Youngblood’s base hit.

In July Flynn had a big month for a light hitter, driving in ten runs while enjoying a seven game hit streak as well. In a July 8th game against the Padres at Shea Stadium, Flynn cleared the bases with a bases loaded double off Padre pitcher Bob Shirley. Flynn's three RBIs lead the team to a 4-1 win.

In August he had his biggest month driving in 18 runs, with a dozen multi hit games, nine doubles & seven runs scored. On September 6th he broke a 1-1 tie in the 7th inning of a game against the Phillies hitting a two run HR off former Mets team mate Nino Espinoza. He closed out the season by driving in three runs in a double header against the St. Louis Cardinals.

The highlight of his career & greatest Mets moment came in 1980, when he won the Gold Glove Award. He was just the third Met in history to ever win the Award. He led all National League second basemen with a .991 fielding percentage, committing only six errors in 659 chances.

On June 10th Flynn broke a 4-4 tie with a single off the Dodgers Bob Welch, as the run turned out to be the game winner. In an August game against the Montreal Expos, Doug set a Mets record, hitting three triples in one game. He also scored three runs that game. He would lead the club in triples that season with eight & in intentional walks (14).

Flynn won the Player of the Week Award on August 10th getting 13 hits, including those three triples while driving in four runs in the week. He also played a spectacular defense on that week's long road trip.

That month he had eight multi hit games & raised his average ten points before getting injured on August 19th. He would miss a month of action, returning at the end of the year. He finished the year with a decent .255 average, nine doubles 24 RBIs playing in 128 games.

During the strike shortened 1981 season, his average fell off to .222, he grounded into 12 double plays, with one HR & 12 RBIs playing in 105 games. He played in 100 games at second (third most in the league) had 220 put outs (3rd in the NL) 301 assists (4th in the NL).

By 1981 the Mets Frank Cashen had taken over as general manager and began cleaning house. Torre and his staff were among the first to go at the end of the season. Next up in December, Flynn & a guy named Danny Boitano were traded to Texas for Jim Kern. Kern never pitched for the Mets getting traded two months later in the George Foster deal.

Quotes: "We weren't very good and that's a fact," Flynn said. "I think we could have been better had Torre been allowed to do the things he would have liked to have done. I think his hands were tied. But we were really young and a bunch of us were just trying to find ourselves. On other teams we would have been able to contribute but we just couldn't carry a team.”

Flynn hit only .211 in Texas playing at second base & short stop. He went to Montreal midway through the 1982, spending three years in there. He finished his career with the Detroit Tigers in 1985.

In his 11 season career he played in 1,308 games, batting .238 with 918 hits, 115 doubles, 39 triples, 7 HRs, 284 RBI, 20 stolen bases, & 151 walks.  Defensively he played 961 games at second base posting a .986 fielding % (21st all time).

He made 61 errors in 4396 chances turning 532 double plays. At short he posted a .966 % in 309 games played at the position.

Family: Flynn's father, Doug Flynn Sr., played in the Brooklyn Dodgers organization in 1949.

Doug met his wife, Olga while on a blind date in New York while playing for the Mets. They have now been married over thirty years. He is a devout Christian & has made speeches at colleges like Georgetown.

Retirement: Flynn was a manager in the Mets minor leagues in 1996 and 1997. In 2000 Flynn became a banker in his hometown of Lexington, Kentucky.

Flynn was on hand for the final closing ceremonies at Shea Stadium in 2008.

In 2010 he was diagnosed with thyroid cancer. He had his thyroid removed & it did some damage to his voice box.

"It's treatable and it's just going to take a little time, about a year or so, and I'm going on with my normal life, and there's a whole lot of worse things, and I'm very blessed they caught it when they did."

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