By Mallorie Rast, Kindersley Social, July 20, 2017
After a lifetime spent loving “the game,” Kindersley-born athlete Jamie Flanagan celebrates his induction to the Baseball Hall of Fame.
“I am honoured to be listed beside other great athletes such as my father, my uncle, Earl Berard, Wally Jackson, and Royal teammates Jim Baba and Fabian Schommer, to name a few,” stated Flanagan in a recent interview. “For me, it is a great accomplishment.”
Flanagan has had a long and varied career in baseball, from a young boy hauling bats for his father’s team in Kindersley, to stealing a world championship in 2003, and finally coordinating Canada Cup tournaments in 2010; he has not lost his taste for baseball.
“I have always loved the game,” commented Flanagan. “It basically was inbred in me.”
Indeed, Flanagan did seem to inherit his passion for ball. His uncle, Irl Flanagan, was inducted into the Saskatchewan Baseball Hall of Fame in 1994. His father, Jerry Flanagan, became known as “Mr. Baseball,” and was ultimately given several awards, including the Joe McDonald Special Award of Merit in 1984. Flanagan’s mother, Valerie, was secretary for World Youth Baseball and Pacific College Cup, and a long-time member of the Saskatchewan Baseball Association.
While Flanagan’s father played with the Kindersley Klippers, Flanagan got his first taste of the game acting as a bat boy during practices and games. As he grew, so did his playing opportunities; minor ball leagues paved the way until Flanagan joined the newly formed Kindersley Royals team in 1977 at the age of 17.
The Kindersley Royals played two years in the Russian Thistle League, before setting their sights a higher in the field. “We were last in the league during our first year,” recalled Flanagan, “but the next year we did much better—we took first.” This amazing leap forward allowed the Kindersley Royals to join the Saskatchewan Major Baseball League and play with teams from larger cities such as Saskatoon, Regina, and Moose Jaw.
Playing with the Royals, Flanagan became noted for his ability with the glove. His team soon learned to place him advantageously around the field, often as defense, as his ability to anticipate the opposing team’s moves, and his clean track record with ball management made him a mighty asset to each game.
Flanagan noted that there were a few defining moments in his baseball career and 1983 was one of the first. Flanagan’s teammate from Team Saskatchewan, Donny Anderson, convinced Flanagan to try college in Nebraska. “Guess they needed a third baseman, and I was happy to oblige!” Flanagan noted that the year also held deep significance as the heat of the games, the flurry of travel, and the fierceness of competition struck a chord deep within him.
The year 1984 held double significance for Flanagan as Kindersley hosted the World Youth Baseball, and the Kindersley Royals took home their first Championship in the Saskatchewan Major Baseball League (SMBL). Each of these events further cemented Flanagan’s passion for the sport.
In the 17 years of playing, the Kindersley Royals did exceptionally well; ultimately winning 4 championships. “It got so teams would be scared to play us,” laughed Flanagan, “We went all over North America, so now anywhere I go I’m almost certain that I will meet someone I played against, or at least know from my years in baseball.”
When the Kindersley Royals disbanded in 1994, many players, including Flanagan, joined the Kindersley Old Timers. Later in 2003, Flanagan was picked up by the Calgary Cardinals to participate in the World Series Championship in Phoenix, Arizona. In 2005, Flanagan joined the Edmonton Blue Jays in the World’s Master Games, where they took Gold over Australia.
Flanagan’s success in baseball can be attributed, in part, to his rural upbringing. “We were taught hard work and diligence. Playing as boys, we practiced every day because we knew you just didn’t give up or give in.”
The induction ceremony will be held at the Alex Dillabough Centre in Battleford on August 19. Flanagan plans on attending the ceremony with family and friends.
Flanagan’s advice to aspiring baseball players is to work hard. “Word hard and play hard. Practice hard, and then practice some more. Here in Kindersley, we have some of the best ball diamonds in Western Canada, so get out there and compete to the best of your ability.”
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