MILL VALLEY, Calif. (AP) — As the fungo bats emerge and pitchers and catchers begin their February fielding practice, Tim Flannery plans to be catching a big wave somewhere off Costa Rica.
That’s his version of a spring training workout these days after nearly 40 years wearing a baseball uniform.
“It’s still offseason for me,” the former Giants third base coach said with a grin. “It’ll be nice when they go to spring training and I go to Costa Rica to surf.”
At 57, Flannery needed a baseball break. He’s playing music and singing with his band, The Lunatic Fringe, in large part for philanthropic causes through the Love Harder Project he inspired, and he just signed on to be a studio analyst for Comcast SportsNet Bay Area working pregame and postgame shows covering his old club.
So much for this guy having a tough time adjusting to life in retirement the way many former athletes do. Not a bad way to go out of the game, either: On his own terms, with three World Series championships in five years.
He was recently honored with a “Coaching Corps Game Changer” award.
“Eight years ago if you’d told me, ‘You might go to the World Series, you might win one,’ if you’d have told me, ‘You’re going to go to the World Series and win three,’ I would have said, ‘You’re crazy, that doesn’t happen,'” he said.
Yet in the midst of an up-and-down season that ended with the high of another improbable title, Flannery would call home and hear the things he was missing. He wanted to be there with his family.
His three children became concerned about his long-term health.
“Kelly, my littlest said, ‘Dad, you buried your friends,'” Flannery recalled. “Dave Smith, I put him in four rehabs through the years and he ended up dying.”
Shortly after the Giants won, Flannery made the surprising announcement he was walking away — and leaving longtime friend and teammate Bruce Bochy, who brought Flannery along from San Diego when he was hired as San Francisco’s manager in 2007.
The Giants will miss Flannery’s presence up and down the third-base line, wildly waving his right arm and willing players home.
“Flan took me in as a 20-year-old kid. I didn’t know how to work,” said pitcher Jake Peavy, who played for Bochy and Flannery in San Diego and with the Giants. “I was sitting around twiddling my thumbs at my locker and he said, ‘Come on, let’s go bunt, let’s go learn how to run the bases.’ Me and him struck up a unique friendship. He taught me how to play guitar, a great release. He probably got me in some trouble but he kept me out of more trouble the older I get. As anybody knows, Flan gave his heart and soul. Flan is all in.”
Now, Flannery pours out that same energy and soul on stage.
Last month, he was preparing for his third straight concert out of four in as many days.
“We’ve been killing it,” Flannery said.
For all the adjustments former athletes must make when moving into the often-daunting life of retirement — devoid of the daily, pre-made schedule of professional sports — Flannery’s transition appears seamless.
“I know there are other things in my life,” he said. “I felt like I hit my peak coaching third for the world champs in the best ballpark in the best city. There was nothing more I could do. When we lost, we sometimes as coaches take it so hard it’s almost like you feel you’re not good enough. We won three world championships. I’m going to feel good about it all the time.”
Before his Jan. 24 gig at the Sweetwater Music Hall in the Marin County town of Mill Valley, he still had a bit of coaching to do. He wished wife Donna good luck as she went outside to sell T-shirts.
He used to play 25 shows a year, and now will do about 50. His schedule is no longer dictated by the baseball calendar.
“I’m 57, how long am I going to keep running down that line?” said Flannery, who had an 11-year playing career, all with the Padres.
Bochy will have to adjust, too.
“I’m happy for Flan. He’s going to pursue his passion for music,” Bochy said. “You don’t spend 32 years with somebody and not miss them. I’m going to miss his friendship, I’m going to miss the great job he did at third base. We’re still going to see each other. This isn’t a eulogy, this is a guy who’s ready to go to the next chapter in his life.”