Yankees announcer John Flaherty talks Elmira pro start, Flash nickname


Video: Edison’s Jack Shaw receives the Southern NY Basketball Officers Affiliation boys sportsmanship award at Edison Excessive Faculty in Elmira Heights.

Elmira Star-Gazette

John Flaherty, now 52, was a catcher within the main leagues from 1992 to 2005. He began his profession with the Boston Crimson Sox and performed his last three seasons with the New York Yankees. Flaherty additionally performed for Detroit, San Diego and Tampa Bay. He has remained part of the Yankees group since retirement as a shade commentator and studio analyst for the YES Community. He lives in River Valley, New Jersey, and is the daddy of three grown youngsters: daughter Kristen and sons Brian and Logan. Flaherty grew up north of New York Metropolis in West Nyack and attended Saint Joseph Regional Excessive Faculty in New Jersey and George Washington College in Washington, D.C., graduating with a level in speech communications.

Flaherty’s professional baseball profession started in 1988 with the Elmira Pioneers, then a member of the short-season New York-Penn League. As a 25th-round draft select of George Washington that summer season, he batted .235 with three homers and 16 RBIs in 162 at-bats. Elmira was additionally the place Flaherty was tagged with the “Flash” nickname so many individuals know him by to this present day.

Flaherty talked about his Elmira days and his profession together with the return of main league baseball this summer season amid the coronavirus pandemic. As of July 14, the Yankees had been nonetheless finalizing their broadcast plans for the 60-game season. Flaherty stated a possible situation may have Yankees announcers at Yankee Stadium for house video games and within the Connecticut studio for street video games. Plans had been additionally being finalized for pregame and postgame studio protection.

What stands out about that first yr in Elmira?

For me it was fairly particular, rising up in Rockland County, New York, to have the ability to signal my contract and drive upstate to Elmira and play. However I feel the largest factor I form of bear in mind on that drive was not figuring out what was going to be forward. I needed to get there and form of dimension myself up in opposition to everyone else and see if I may play at that degree. That’s actually what I bear in mind probably the most is these first couple of exercises if you’re out on the sphere with everyone else who obtained drafted and also you’re form of sizing your self and the way you evaluate. ‘This man seems actually good. I feel I’m all proper right here.’ A variety of self-evaluation.

That first summer season {of professional} baseball was eye-opening. It was extra enterprise than it was in school. There was some success and there was additionally a variety of failure, however I feel on the finish of that summer season I left there pondering I held my very own and I wasn’t overmatched, so for me that was the largest factor shifting ahead.

What do you recall in regards to the night time your loved ones and mates basically took over Dunn Area?

One of many causes I used to be excited I obtained drafted by the Crimson Sox was as a result of a variety of their minor league cities had been on the East Coast, shut for my household to get forwards and backwards and see some video games. That first summer season I feel there was a bunch of perhaps 70. I don’t even bear in mind what number of, however a variety of my family and mates got here up there for I feel it was a weekend night time. That custom truly continued right through my main league profession and my minor league profession. They might make stops at each minor league stadium someplace on the street. I bear in mind them going to Camden Yards in Baltimore, Fenway Park, all these locations. It was a practice that saved going yr after yr and it began in Elmira.

How did you get your nickname?

We had been put up at Elmira Faculty. I used to be bringing my bag into the dormitory and I pressed the elevator button and a left-handed pitcher from Boston Faculty by the identify of John Dolan was popping out of the elevator and we form of launched ourselves to one another. I stated ‘John Flaherty.’ He stated, ‘Flaherty? Have you learnt a Timmy Flaherty from Boston Faculty?’ I stated that I didn’t. He stated ‘We name him Flash Flaherty’ for a bunch of various causes.

I didn’t suppose something of it. No huge deal. We had our first exercise the subsequent day and John Dolan known as me Flash that day, first exercise at Dunn Area. That nickname caught from that first exercise till immediately. Lots of people nonetheless consult with me as Flash Flaherty and it’s all due to the unique Timmy ‘Flash’ Flaherty from Boston Faculty.

Did you ever meet Tim Flaherty?

Yeah, I did. I went as much as Boston Faculty truly that first offseason to look at a Boston Faculty soccer sport and obtained to satisfy Tim Flaherty. He turned out to be I feel a district legal professional in Boston in some unspecified time in the future, so the unique Flash Flaherty had some success as properly.

What else do you recall out about your season in Elmira?

I lived at Elmira Faculty and it was that first summer season of professional ball, the place it’s all baseball on a regular basis. You’re principally getting your sleep and touring. Simply the enterprise a part of it was what I bear in mind. Invoice Limoncelli (additionally a longtime space highschool and school coach) was the supervisor and he was old skool, he was hardcore. He would yell and scream. It was a fast transition from school baseball to professional ball. So it was eye opening, nevertheless it was one thing I loved.

The rest stand out about Invoice?

I simply do not forget that he did a very good job of letting you already know that is extra enterprise than your school or highschool expertise. It was a type of, let’s rip the Band-Support off and allow you to know that is professional ball now and also you go on the market and when you produce you’re going to play. If you happen to don’t, you’re going to spend time on the bench. He was excellent on the transition from school or highschool ball to professional ball and the truth of it.

Because the MLB season will get set to begin, what’s the largest query or concern in your thoughts?

I feel from the gamers’ standpoint they’re all at their house stadiums now and so they’re getting their work accomplished. They’re form of remoted somewhat bit is I assume one of the simplest ways to place it. I feel the largest concern is when the common season begins. From the Yankees’ perspective, you journey to Washington and also you’re form of out of your own home aspect. Now you’re at a crew lodge, you’re on the crew bus, you’re in a special clubhouse. How are all of these logistics going to work? And simply making an attempt to maintain everyone protected away from the sphere. As soon as the gamers get out on the sphere and so they do their factor, it virtually feels prefer it’s enterprise as common besides there received’t be any followers there. However it’s all of the touring and completely different elements of it which can be going to be regarding on conserving everyone protected. Pretty much as good because the numbers have been proper now with the testing, it’s going to be fascinating to see when the common season will get going and all of the touring begins.

Have you considered what your response may need been as a participant?

Completely. I might be a type of guys I feel would have felt prefer it was our duty to get again out on the sphere. Clearly within the most secure approach attainable, however to provide baseball followers some distraction from what’s happening. Clearly ensuring with my household, making an attempt to maintain them wholesome, and getting again out on the sphere can be one thing I might be 100 % for.

Once I performed throughout my profession, there was all the time a certain quantity of belief and also you needed to belief the man subsequent to you that he was going to be doing his greatest to win a sport. Now it’s at a complete completely different degree. It’s important to belief the man subsequent to you that he’s going to do the appropriate factor away from the sphere, not solely to maintain one another protected however to maintain your loved ones protected as properly. In a bizarre approach it most likely goes to carry these guys even nearer figuring out that they’ve obtained to do the appropriate factor for themselves and their households.

What’s your evaluation of the Yankees and what are the keys to them reaching the postseason?

Clearly if you carry Gerrit Cole in and what he’s accomplished to this point … he hasn’t even pitched a regular-season sport, however he’s made such an impression, not solely in intrasquads however his management and the whole lot he says within the clubhouse and to the media. The expectations are excessive. They’ve the perfect crew in baseball on paper, they’ve the perfect bullpen even with (Aroldis) Chapman taking place together with his optimistic check. They’ve a lot depth on the market and I feel particularly early on in these video games within the season the bullpen goes to be such an element. They’ve such a bonus. However I feel they’ve stated it themselves that there’s obtained to be a psychological focus about this yr as a result of there aren’t any followers within the stands, it’s a fast season. It’s important to be able to go from sport one and take a look at to not put your self behind the eight ball by getting off to a troublesome begin.

I feel the crew that stays the healthiest clearly – not solely with baseball accidents however COVID – and the crew that mentally is ready to form of get themselves to a different degree with out the followers being within the stadium most likely would be the most profitable.

As a child from Rockland County, what did it imply to be part of the Yankees group as a participant and now as a broadcaster?

It’s been particular. Clearly the final three years of my profession making an attempt to win a championship and coming again house to New York and enjoying for the Yankees was a dream come true for me. Not solely from the baseball a part of it, however I talked about my household and all of the journeys that they might take. Coming again house and enjoying in entrance of them for 3 years and being part of that was nice.

Then the post-playing profession with the Yankees and YES form of conserving me concerned. The one factor the Yankees do with their retired gamers is that they actually deal with us like household and hold us concerned. It’s been an excellent three years as a participant and now perhaps going into 15 as a broadcaster, it’s been superb. Very fortunate.

What was the largest problem making the transition to the published sales space?

I feel clearly the largest problem is that first couple of years if you’re up within the sales space and a few of your greatest mates are going by way of powerful occasions. It’s important to be sincere about what you see on the sphere and that wasn’t the simplest factor for me with any person like Jorge Posada, who I used to be very shut with. However I feel rising up in New York, you notice that you need to be sincere with these followers and form of name it such as you see it. It’s gotten somewhat simpler as I’ve gotten somewhat older. My relationships with the gamers are clearly completely different than they had been once I truly was teammates with a few of them. Not that you simply ever look to be vital of a participant, however you’ve obtained to name it such as you see it.

What’s the important thing to creating Yankees broadcasts work, particularly with the lineup modifications within the sales space all through the season?

I feel that’s the half I take pleasure in probably the most. I’d go do a sport with David Cone and Michael Kay after which the subsequent collection I’m doing a collection with Ken Singleton and it’s a totally completely different feeling. I do know from a private standpoint it form of retains it recent, the place it doesn’t really feel prefer it’s getting stale as a result of it form of modifications collection to collection. Clearly coping with David Cone with the pitcher/catcher a part of it’s one thing that I actually take pleasure in. Paul O’Neill, the attitude he brings. And Kenny. That’s the factor I take pleasure in is each night time I do the work I really feel prefer it’s somewhat bit completely different relying on who I’m working with. We get criticized typically for that. There are followers who would really like the identical mixture day in and time out and I perceive that. However that is what we’ve got and we form of go along with it and I feel it really works, particularly for me.

With leagues shutting down, the draft condensed and youth sports activities being up and down when it comes to enjoying, it is a difficult time for the youthful baseball technology. How huge of a priority is that for the game?

To start with, I really feel horrible for these children within the minor leagues who’re making an attempt to not solely fulfill their goals however hold working and getting higher and rising up by way of the system. To have an entire season taken away is horrible. Then you definitely go to the school degree and I’ve a nephew who’s a catcher at Hofstra and the way are they going to do with seniors coming again and freshmen coming in? It’s only a powerful scenario all the best way round. I simply suppose you clearly attempt to do the perfect you may. The one factor about professional ball particularly is the psychological a part of the sport and conserving your focus shifting ahead and concentrating on getting higher and worrying in regards to the subsequent sport. It’s going to be an unbelievable problem for these children now due to the scenario that they’re in.

How has the sport modified because you retired?

I used to be taught from a really younger age as a catcher to have my pitcher hold the ball down. Hold the ball down, hold the ball on the bottom. With the analytics and the excessive spin fee on fastballs issues have modified a lot that pitchers pitch up within the zone a lot extra now than they did once I performed. I simply suppose it’s a type of issues that as you’re enjoying you form of evolve with how the sport is altering. It’s modified a lot from once I began to now as a broadcaster that I feel gamers simply form of adapt. The knowledge that’s on the market, it could be overwhelming, however I feel organizations, particularly the Yankees, do a very good job of condensing it to every particular person participant, what they will deal with and what works for them. You are taking that data and also you attempt to get higher.

What pitcher stood out when it comes to stuff amongst these you confronted?

Pedro Martinez was clearly a troublesome couple of at-bats if you would face him. You all the time had behind your thoughts that he wouldn’t be afraid to drill you if he needed to. Pedro was as intimidating as there was and he was additionally the whole package deal, with management, velocity, nice off-speed pitches. He may embarrass you on sure nights.


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Are there occasions you look again and respect your lengthy relationship with baseball?

There have been moments, particularly once I retired as a participant in ’06, if you’re capable of form of separate your self out of your profession. By that I imply I felt like from day one in Elmira till the final day of my profession I used to be form of simply grinding and making an attempt to show that I belonged. I by no means had that feeling like, ‘OK, I’ve made it and I’m going to have the ability to play for a protracted profession.’ It was all the time, ‘Am I going to get launched? Who’s arising behind me?’ And I all the time saved working on daily basis to maintain my job. When you’ve that form of mentality after which lastly after 13 and a half years you may form of take a deep breath and have a look again at what you probably did, I’m happy with to begin with how lengthy I lasted. Second of all, I turned myself into an honest offensive catcher. By no means something dominant, however I used to be capable of maintain my very own.

Happy with that after which the published sales space, to be sincere with you, is nothing completely different. My perspective is I all the time need to be ready and work at it and revel in it and attempt to get higher. Possibly that’s a fault of my persona, nevertheless it’s simply the best way I’m form of wired, that it’s everyday and hold making ready and don’t take something without any consideration. You’re going to need to earn it. It’s form of labored out in my baseball profession.

Comply with Andrew Legare on Twitter @SGAndrewLegare.Help our journalism and grow to be a digital subscriber immediately. Click here for our special offers.

Extra: From a lost season to Dunn dominance, Pioneers manager Matt Burch answers 8 questions

Extra: No baseball in Elmira in 2020 after PGCBL cancels season due to coronavirus

Extra: Despite unexpected detour, Mike Limoncelli on track in return from Tommy John surgery

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