CHICAGO -- Brian Flynn was 8 years old when his father died in a head-on car collision, and the Oklahoma boy’s baseball dream nearly perished with it. Flynn would stand at the door after the accident, staring out at the backyard where he and his father used to practice for hours on end, and his mother would encourage him to keep playing.
“I’d ask him, ‘Do you want to go out and play catch?’” recalled his mother, Michele. “And he would just say no. I’m sure he was just remembering. His father wanted him to become a pitcher, but he never got to see him pitch because he was too young and it was coach-pitch.”
But thanks to his devoted mother, Brian Flynn’s baseball dreams not only lived on, but they flourished. When he makes his major-league debut for the Marlins on Wednesday at historic Wrigley Field, she will be in the stands cheering him on — and imagining how it would feel if her late husband and Brian’s father could be there to see it, too.
“I think it would be great, sitting next to him, squeezing his hand for the nerves, and how proud he would be at the moment,” she said.
Said Brian Flynn of his father: “He always worked with me in the backyard, lived and breathed baseball. After he died, she kept it going. She kept pushing [for me] to fulfill the dream.”
Flynn, 23, is a 6-8 left-hander, and one of three players Miami got in last year’s trade with the Tigers for Anibal Sanchez and Omar Infante. The other two players acquired by the Marlins in that trade — catcher Rob Brantly and pitcher Jacob Turner — already have played for them.
Flynn went 6-11 for Triple A New Orleans this season but led the Pacific Coast League with a 2.80ERA. Despite his height, Flynn displayed good control, averaging only 2.6 walks per nine innings. But it took a lot of hard work for Flynn to develop his accuracy.
“Part of that was a struggle because he was a big kid, awkward,” Michele Flynn said.
Brian Flynn described himself at one time as being “uncoordinated” because of his height, with “legs flailing, arms flailing and a lot of body parts all over the place.”
But Michele found the best pitching coaches to work with in the Tulsa area, and eventually he landed at Wichita State. The Tigers drafted him in the seventh round of the 2011 first-year player draft.
“It’ll be a good day,” Brian Flynn said of Wednesday’s big-league debut, with his mom watching from the stands. “It was kind of a dream me and my dad had. Mom supported it and kept it going.”
Wednesday: Marlins LHP Brian Flynn (major-league debut) at Chicago Cubs RHP Jeff Samardzija (8-11, 4.13 ERA), 2:20 p.m., Wrigley Field.
Scouting report: Samardzija was named NL co-Player of the Week, along with the Marlins’ Jose Fernandez, last week.