It’s the middle of a four game road trip in Cincinnati. After the third out of an inning, Tim Flannery bolts into the clubhouse to jot some things down before he has to return to the field. There's jokes that he's stealing signs, but the reality is much more intriguing. Inspired by the view of the Kentucky Mountains from his coach’s box, he's writing down lyrics to a song to be named later.
This is not the first time the musician and former player and coach's worlds have collided. In fact, it's a regular occurrence. Over the course of his 30-year career in the MLB, numerous songs were born at the ballpark.
The former third base coach, lovingly nicknamed 'Flan,' has developed quite a name for himself in the San Francisco community. With an eccentric personality and flair for the dramatic, he helped lead the Giants to three World Series championships in five years, collecting albums of memories along his way. Although he retired from the hot corner last year, these memories live on through his music and performances.
With a heart bigger than a packed stadium and a voice as smooth as pine tar, Flannery returned to the city where his baseball career ended Friday for a performance at the Great American Music Hall. Taking center stage in the small, beautifully ornate venue were stories about Jesus, Kentucky, whiskey and America’s pastime of course.
And the stories did not disappoint. There was a nod to SF-favorite Buster Posey who inspired his song “Gambling” after getting called out on play at home, a curveball hurled in the direction of Jonathan Papelbon and even a Deflategate joke thrown in for good measure. He beamed when talking about the day he got to coach the World Champions and then sing with Willie Nelson later in the evening. The passion and soul he contained was impossible to miss; the emotions clear through his articulation and movement.
Much like his demeanor on the third base line, Flannery never stood still on stage: stomping his cowboy boots, licking his lips and dancing his way through the set. His love of the game was interlaced throughout the night, both in obvious ways and in more discreet moments. When he introduced his band, he did so with as much pride as he talked about his players.
Taking a page from the Giants’ playbook, it was clear that he built the perfect team to share the stage with. Joined by the Whiskey Sisters’ Barbara Nesbitt, versatile performer Jeff Berkley (he spells it correctly), The Waybacks’ vocalist James Nash as well as his band The Lunatic Fringe, Flannery made sure to give each member a chance to take the spotlight. Like his players and teammates in the past, it was evident that they were more than his band, but his family.
These unselfish qualities are one of the reasons the Kentucky-born gentleman has developed such a following both on the field and in the music industry. After Giants fan Bryan Stow was brutally beaten in the Dodger Stadium parking lot after a game in 2011, he made it his personal mission to help. To support Stow and his family, Flannery raised over $200,000 through his music, while also keeping Stow’s story in the public eye. Riding that success, he created the Love Harder Project to continue to assist victims of violence. The entire proceeds of his concerts and merchandise will never land in his pocket, but the pockets of those who needed it more.
Through Flannery’s career both in the MLB and music, one thing has been abundantly clear: it was never about the money or fame. It was always about the passion. Most importantly, he never forgot the importance of giving back, especially to the community who did so much for him. As he left the stage Friday night to roaring applause one thing was for sure, Flannery successfully stole home... and our hearts.