Around these parts, Doug Flynn is best known as one of the four players the Mets got from the Reds in the 1977 Tom Seaver trade. Flynn spent five of his 11 big-league seasons in Flushing.
In his native Lexington, Kentucky, Flynn is best known as the son of Bobby and Ritchey Flynn. Doug's parents, both 92, reside together at the non-profit Sayre Christian Village Healthcare Center.
Flynn, like folks around the country with parents in nursing or retirement homes, cannot visit his parents face-to-face and cannot contribute to their care because of concerns over the possible spreading of the coronavirus.
On Wednesday, Flynn saw his father — a dementia patient — from outside Bobby’s window. The two spoke on the phone.
“I was outside, he was inside,” Flynn said in a telephone interview. “But we could see each other, anyway.”
Flynn’s visit was featured by Spectrum 1 News Kentucky as part of a story on fundraising efforts on the Sayre Christian Village's Facebook page. The effort is to help pay for extra shifts needed for caregivers at the facility now that family members can no longer help with care of their loved ones, and also to buy needed supplies such as bleach, hand sanitizer and wipes — if they can be found.
As of Wednesday morning, the drive had accumulated just over $9,000 of the $30,000 organizers are hoping to raise to cover just one month of extra costs due to the coronavirus outbreak.
In the news video, Flynn was identified simply as “Doug Flynn, visited his dad,” not “Doug Flynn, former big-league second baseman,” or “Doug Flynn, who was once traded for Tom Seaver in a deal that broke Mets fans’ hearts.”
Such designations are stripped away when it comes to coronavirus and the effects it can have on families. Flynn is doing his part as a citizen of Lexington, not as someone who collected 918 hits (500 of them with the Mets) and won an NL Gold Glove award in 1980.
“They’re having to call in extra caregivers because there’s a lot of family members that come over to the facility and they’re able to take care of their moms and dads and aunts and uncles or whatever,” said Flynn, 68, who was traded to the Mets along with Steve Henderson, Dan Norman and Pat Zachry for Seaver on June 15, 1977.
“Now, they’re not allowing anyone to get into the facility, so they’re having to hire other people to come in and do that. And that’s where the costs are really starting to go up.”
The last time Flynn was able to visit his parents in person was March 10. The next day, he flew to Goodyear, Arizona, for an expected stint as a special instructor for the Cincinnati Reds.
“I wasn’t out there very long,” Flynn said. “I know that.”
Flynn arrived on an off-day in Reds camp, and the next day it rained in Arizona. That was the same day baseball ended spring training games because of the virus.
Flynn headed back home to a different Lexington than he had left just a few days earlier. Social distancing efforts were in full force, and Flynn was no longer able to visit his parents in person. His mother, Ritchey, is an Alzheimer’s patient.
“We’ll talk every day with mom and dad,” Flynn said. “They can still get up, make breakfast, make cereal and coffee if they want to. But just about everything else is taken care of for them. They have some wonderful people there. Boy, you talk about service. These people are special. We’re going to do what we can.”