Interview with John Flinn
Movies such as Rocky, Taxi Driver, and King Kong were released this year. Disco was on top of the charts. And, baseball returned to Charlotte after three years away.
The year was 1976 and a new era of professional baseball was ushered into Charlotte as the Charlotte O’s, led by the Crockett Family, brought baseball back to the Queen City where it was four years prior and for over 80 years.
That first O’s team in 1976 was special. They were led by manager Jimmie Schaffer, a former major leaguer who spent parts of eight seasons in the bigs. They featured future Hall-of-Famer Eddie Murray, who went on to greatness. And, they had John Flinn.
Flinn was drafted by the Baltimore Orioles in the 2nd round of the 1973 amateur draft (January Secondary) — just three years prior to Charlotte’s first season. A native of Merced, CA, Flinn went to Monroe High School in Sepulveda, CA, and later attended Los Angeles Valley College in Los Angeles, CA.
At the age of 21, he made his way to Double-A and debuted with the Charlotte O’s. He tossed the first pitch in Charlotte O’s history and he posted a 9-8 record with a 2.86 ERA in 24 games for the team (21 starts) in 1976. It was his first season in Charlotte as he made his way through the organization en route to Baltimore.
Two years later, he made his major league debut with the Baltimore Orioles on May 6, 1978. Over the course of his four-year major league career, Flinn appeared in 42 big league games (22 with Baltimore) and posted a 5-2 record with two saves and a 4.17 ERA (69.0 IP). He appeared in 20 games with the Milwaukee Brewers.
Later in his career, Flinn made his way back to Charlotte and appeared in 13 games with the O’s in 1985. He later went on to coach.
Still making his home here in the Charlotte area, I had a chance to sit down with John on September 2, 2015. It was his 61st birthday and he had the chance to throw out a ceremonial first before the Charlotte Knights game. It was a perfect strike.
We chatted about that first pitch, the 1976 season, teammates, and more.